Posted by terrance | Filed under Random Musings
I prefer a woman with sexy syntax, a voluptuous command of language, and a mature tongue and hand(writing). Bring that buxom spelling bee brain over here… ’cause I’ve been a bad, bad speller.
Is speller even a word? It feels wrong, doesn’t it? I’ve heard people use it in sentences, but those folks are usually calling on the word as a way of declaring their lack of spelling prowess… so, if their orthographic skills are wanting and flaccid, why would their vocabulary be any better? There’s but one way to find out. To the dictionary!
As a writer, I find myself constantly referencing online glossaries, thesauri, rhyming dictionaries, historical resources, and the like. There is so much free information—and so many great writing tools readily available—that these easy-click services sometimes feel like a crutch. On the other hand, they often save souls with mediocre spelling skills, like yours truly, hoping to verify the authenticity of alleged words, like speller.
As it turns out, speller IS a word.
Speller (noun): a person who spells words.
I’m sure you’re asking yourself, why is this guy who plays devils in film, raises cockroaches, and rides motorcycles lecturing to me about spelling? Recently, I’ve been asking myself a similar question, which is what sparked the idea for this blog.
Over the past few years, one of my unofficial duties has been proofreading… reams and reams and readings to proof. I never asked for the job. I don’t get paid for it. I don’t particularly enjoy it. And I’m certainly no authority on English, yet I’m habitually tasked with this charge.
I think it’s because I’m thorough by way of vanity—i.e. I’m too vain to endure the notion that materials associated with my name might be perceived as illiterate. I’m also humble enough to seek answers to things I do not know, like the word speller.
In spite of being cocky enough to be careful, and modest enough to be curious, typographical errors sometimes still slip through the cracks, like this undetected typo that made it’s way into print on the third issue of my comic book series, The Molting.
Can you CAKE me to school? Really? I proofread the chapter a dozen times and somehow missed this glaring mistake. Luckily, I’m reminded of it every few months by a well-meaning fan who sends me a message informing me of the misprint, often with a photo of the page attached as evidence.
Notwithstanding intermittent spelling misCAKEs, I get by. In fact, most folks assume me alphabetically cultivated even though I was raised in an environment where linguistics—and academics in general—were less than encouraged. Stranger still, my colleagues routinely look to me for copy editing, despite the fact that if called upon to represent them in a spelldown, I would most certainly fail. More curiously, i find that the text presented to me to repair often comes from well-educated, so-called professionals in their fields, and their writing is usually a nightmarish butchering of the English language.
Sometime ago, I read a book about the BTK serial killer who notoriously wrote taunting poems about his kills to media and law enforcement. The poems were trite and riddled with misspellings and poor grammar. The author of the BTK book described instances where the killer, Dennis Rader, would pause while penning his death notes, realizing that something wasn’t quite right with the words he’d chosen. These realizations were quickly dismissed by Rader who lacked the intellectual curiosity to further examine his work—or himself—when something felt wrong. In other words, BTK wasn’t stupid, just lazy and surface. The author went on to say that even when Radar was shown the correct usage of his incorrect words, it never translated into a personal connection that then resulted in a change in spelling habit.
I’ve seen a handful of humorous captions bandied about cyberspace stating things like “Before the internet, I assumed my friends knew the difference between to, too, and two.” I wonder if the word wrongdoers that are the butts of these sorts of viral jokes, recognize their shortcomings when they read captions like the example above? Or, like BTK, do they fail to make any personal connection? Or do they simply not care?
I’m not trying to draw a comparison between poor spelling and grammar and serial murder, nor am I attempting to marginalize those with clinical reading disorders like dyslexia. I’m also not writing a post about words to pat myself on the back. No, I composed this blog because I’m curious. What is it that makes some of us inquisitive enough to learn from our linguistic misdeeds while others don’t? Especially with the amazing access to information that we presently enjoy? And the fact that so many of our written words are now public?
Obviously, education—and therefore economics—play a huge factor in “book smarts”, but opportunity and memorization are different than curiosity… and I think curiosity… is SEXY.
By writing this blog, I realize that I’ve opened myself up to the red pen of any English teacher who may stumble upon this post, which I welcome… in the “Comments” section below. I also welcome comments from you, dear readers. Please share your own spelling sagas, embarrassing typos, favorite words, and titillating parlance tips and tricks.