Thursday, October 13, 2005

Spelling counts II


couple of days ago, I posted my thoughts on spelling. Writing is, in my books, an important way to communicate, and correct spelling goes a long way for the reader. Now, I realize that spelling is not everything, and I hope I didn't leave the impression that a misspelled word can ruin an otherwise wonderful literary event, as evil_vish pointed out.

I teach dyslexic boys how to read! I wish I could say that I agree, but actually, I don't. Even though I am completing an English Major at university, I believe that some people have genuine difficulty with spelling. They still have a message and a voice, they may even have a love for reading eventually, but they can not write it exactly as we prescribe. To me, it matters less than it used to. I like to spell things correctly, but I have learned since that English spelling used to be so much more variable. Shakespeare could spell the same word different ways on the same page, but his work remains outstanding.

Indeed, dyslexia is a serious handicap and those who have it truly have to work harder than others. But that shouldn't stop them from trying, nor should it prevent them from writing. I have a student who is dyslexic as well, but he rarely complains about my demands as he too realizes--I think--that others in the workplace may not be so forgiving and so he makes it a point, with my encouragement, to be vigilant. As instructors, we must encourage, but we must prepare them as well, I think. As for Shakespeare, different spellings can be a poetic choice, but it is also a product of little standardization. Today, however, we have more rigid standards--a product of greater and easier communication and dissemination of ideas. Standardization allows for easier reading and fewer miscommunications, I think. But this is not to say that words cannot be made up or misspelled given the appropriate context. Personal writing is a good example. If you go back through my blogs, you will find more than a few misspellings. And, of course, my grammar is rather loose and free-formed. I'm sure my high school English teacher would have a fit reading what I write here. But it is, perhaps, a form of expression--I write like I talk, for the most part--it is one of the many aspects that defines me. So when I say "spelling counts", I refer to academic and public--non-literary--writing, such as newspapers, government documents, policy papers, ad nauseum. But a personal touch on private writings, like Xanga blogs, is fine...

HattoriHanzo: i've always wondered how onigiriman reacts when he stumbles upon a xanga page full with typos. do you self destruct?

No, not quite. As I said above, certain liberties can be taken in private writings. I mean, if you wrote something meaningful, I wouldn't dis it because it had a couple of typos. but if it is a paper you handed in to me, then I would be a bit stricter, as writing for me at school is your time to practice writing for the real world, a public world. Of course, I have my limits with personal writings as well. Which is why I won't visit sites of peple who Rit3 Lik3 tHiS,dOOd.

wildkat03: Just FYI - I was actually taught in fourth grade to use "can not." I distinctly remember that teacher and those very specific instructions. Are you SURE this is incorrect?

I'm not about to refute or disagree with the claims of another. However, I was taught that "can not" is one word. I have had countless of teachers correct my spelling, and the word has finally stuck. The word can be separated when one wants to emphasize it: You can drink soda, but you can not drink beer. Here is a site I found that addresses this issue. Cannot vs. can not at Language Hat.

So how was everyone's Thursday? One more day and it's the weekend! Woo hoo!

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