Friday, 20 November 2009

Why Spelling Matters So Much

Botogol said...

btw HG. it's superseded. With an S :-)

(the C betrays your classical education, only someone who has studied latin makes that mistake. But actually it its super sedere, to sit upon, not from cedere, to yield.

(he! he!, you don't have to approve this comment!)

20 November 2009 00:09

It wasn't a happy Angel that put this comment up. Spelling 'correctly' is almost a professional deformation for Angels. But it's a revelatory comment because it shows why we take quite fierce stances on how words are put down on the page. Botogol softened the blow by explaining that 'only someone who has studied latin makes that mistake', but why should having studied latin make it feel not so bad?

How we spell is similar to an archaeological dig. An entire life lies buried in our spelling, (and other writing skills: punctuation, grammatical usage, vocabulary, and access to rhetorical device.) The papers invariably put ages, we worry about databases loaded with names, whereabouts, life details and their security. But every time we put finger to keyboard we say who we are, and were , completely.

(And I did know about the 's' and the different root, honest; it was overridden by conditioning and lack of attention to detail, ie proof reading.)


Old BE said...

It is a fascinating subject. One man worked out who Belle du Jour was by comparing her style with other web articles she had written in an academic capacity. I find that incredible!

Elby The Beserk said...

My spelling and grammar are, sadly, not what they were. However, I am aligned with the spelling and grammar "puritans". Grammar - well, would you ask a builder to build a house for you were he unable to put the constituent parts together? No. Similarly, without grammar, and most especially in English, I think, there is no guarantee that what you say or write means what you think it is.

Hence, without grammar, it is entirely possible that one is incomprehensible. That is not a good way to proceed through life.

Spelling reinforces the above.

Here endeth the lesson for today.

Those who write in txtese on message boards and blogs should just be taken outside and shot.

Botogol said...

Angels, I am foolishly flattered to find my comment promoted to your front page :-)
...but I fear you won't love me for it :-(

btw the only reason that particular mistake leaps out at me is, of course, that I, too, was once caught out

Weekend Yachtsman said...

BE, it's not incredible at all, it's quite a common technique for writers to use against each other.

In a previous life I edited a village newsletter; it contained a fairly scurrilous "diary" of current events written by one resident, who took great pains to conceal his identity.

He was finally outed by a professional writer who was resident there, simply by looking at what he wrote and listening to various peoples' use of English. And she was right; the only person ever to guess correctly.

I'm with HG on this, incidentally; we do betray our entire origins, social class, educational status, etc, every time we "put pen to paper" - and how much more so every time we open our mouths.

As Orwell once said, it's impossible for one Englishman to speak without some other Englishman immediately despising him.

a musician said...

How unfair. Some of us chose long ago to specialize in other forms of communication; all those hours of practise in practice rooms.

hatfield girl said...

And as you ascend the glittering slopes and faces of BWV 988, we cluster looking up at you in all your grace, and fearlessness, and technical mastery, but we cannot follow you; we cannot even understand much of what you are doing to make us feel and - while you play - touch perfection.

Everyone writes, but very few can even approach the Clavier-Übung. (Though I bet a truly knowledgeable ear could hear just whose are the giant's shoulders on which you stand).

And of course there is writing that moves just as far out of our reach but fortunately not our enjoyment, but I wasn't talking about that. Just everybody going about their everyday writing business really.