At the risk of showing that I don't get the joke, add "new" to the list.
Line 7:
"but now always"
"but not always"

Maybe I'm not getting a joke either?
You're human. It comes with the territory.
@1 and 2: No joke! Those were real mistakes. I'm also a horrible self-editor.
All briliant people are bad spelers.
English spelling hasn't been rationalized (freedom is messy, after all) and that means that spelling is inconsistent and illogical at times. Don't expect that problem to be fixed in your lifetime. The solution is fascism, after all, and who wants fascism?

More realistically, rote memorization needs to be recognized as a valuable tool. Not the be all and end all of the dark ages, but a good tool none the less.

That's what I'm saying. Smart people think learning by rote is beneath them. Count yourself lucky if nobody ever sandbags you by telling you you're smart.
For me it's always "separate". Even looking at it on the screen now, I don't like it.
@8: Gets me every time.
As someone who is thankfully not afflicted with this problem, I can honestly say that you people who can't spell make me cringe sometimes.
"Business" and "Restaurant" always get me. I'm also just and overall terrible speller (also horrific with punctuation).

I am old enough to have been annoyingly told to "look it up!" when younger and needed help with spelling (and by that they meant in a dictionary, not the googles). Goddamn that was annoying.
I still have a problem with definitely (which I instinctively spell "definately") and it took me a long time to get over my problem with "intelligence", which is a particularly embarrasing word to misspell. I wouldn't say I have a "problem" with spelling, but there are words I tend to trip over. It doesn't help that when I'm unsure of how to spell a word, I'll often rephrase the whole sentence to avoid using it, which is silly as it's a lot less effort than to google the damn thing.
@8 - ALWAYS had a problem with "separate" until I started using the trick that "it starts with a SEPA review" SEPA stands for State Environmental Policy Act and comes up at my work all the time even if I don't know anything about it. If it isn't a common reference for you, it probably won't help but thought I would throw it out there in case it could help someone else.
At 8 - me too! Until I remembered it has an equal # of a's and e's. Hope that works for you too.
Up here in Canada, it's 'licence', which takes away any confusion as to which one gets the s. :)
"recommendation" and "apparently" are mine (I spelled them wrong just now). And "license," of course. I make up for it with impeccable (misspelled) punctuation.

I also have a short attention span. hm...
We are one my brother.
Separate and apparently always get me too. It's the e's and a's that mess me up. Business used to but now I just pronounce it the way it looks in my head (bus-i-ness) when typing it. Far worse for me is I am a terrible typist and always - every single time - type the as teh and flowers as flwoers. Every singe time!
Spell check is not infallible- my favorite is when it misses the word "asses" when you're trying to spell "assess"
It took me a long time to get definitely down. Separate still gets me.
I'm mostly a good speller but there are a few words that I just have a complete mental block about. Ocasionally is one. Is that right? No... occasionally?
I've been a horrible speller all my life - and my life started way before spell check came into it. Spell check is actually a saving grace.

I finally figured out separate by focusing on the -para-. Now if I could just teach my brain to remember embarrassing (that took two tries)...
Brilliant people may be poor spellers, but stupid people usually are, too.
I see "definately" all over the web--I thought it was intentional. (Like "teh".)
Broccoli. There, I just misspelled it again, but corrected thanks to spell check. I think it's because I don't ever type that word on my computer, I only ever hand write it on grocery lists...
I'm very typo prone and I have my share of words that I screw up on a regular basis. My other 'fault' is that I learned to spell legitimate alternative spellings of some words over the years, and that is frustrating to some.

My point is, we all do this, some of us are just more aware of how often we mess up and others of us may just be in denial.
Stupid people are just stupid people.

Smart people often misspell because one's brain is moving faster than one's fingers.
My parents subscribed to very few magazines when I was growing up. One of the few they did get was Reader's Digest and my favorite feature in it was "It Pays To Increase Your Word Power." Not only did it help me to understand the meaning of words, but I'm sure it also helped me to become a good speller (I hardly ever use spellcheck.)

If you're having trouble with certain words, create some kind of tip or aid for yourself, like sloggerette@23 said she does with "separate" by focusing on the "para." For example, "license" is a word that used to get to me too. But then I thought of incense (which I'd never think of spelling insence) and, from then on, license never gave me any trouble. Or, for another example, I used to have trouble with "amphitheater." But then I looked at it and realized it's composed of "amp hit heater" and, from that point, it's never been a problem (plus I always get a visual of an overly-exuberant guitarist onstage on a cold day.) I'm somewhat surprised that people get "definitely" wrong, considering that "finite" is part of the word and one wouldn't think of spelling that as "finate" (would one?)

One thing that drives me crazy is when someone turns a plural ending in a s into a possessive, as in "the burger's there are excellent." Something has caused that to catch on (seeing other people do it a lot on the internet perhaps?) because I see it all the time now and never used to see it when I was younger.

I doubt that ability to spell is an indicator of intelligence, but think it is a function of how you were taught to read in those early years (phonics, anyone?) and perhaps how your brain is wired. Of course, constant reliance on spellcheck would make anyone lazy.
And I'm a freakishly good speller. It's just not a sign of smarts.
Hey, Roma, I hear Wal-Mart has TV's on sale this weekend. ;-)

Yep, that bugs me too.
I think the use of apostrophes to form a plural rather than a possessive or contraction is okay if you're doing it with a noun that's been abbreviated to initials (like TV's @ 31) but not in any other situation.
Honeybun, don't worry about it so long as your job is mainly to be quick on the internet rather than 100% accurate about stuff. Your task is to quickly surf reliable source sites and post links to their links to others' work, personalizing with light commentary as you go. That plus photos out your Olive Tower window, esp. of Wienermobiles.

If you find yourself someday able to make money writing for an audience that expects careful research and analysis, they'll want accurate spelling, and will allow you to slow down enough to provide it. Though spelling is sort of a knack, the discipline of your paycheck absolutely requiring it will take you a long way. But let's cross that bridge when we come to it.

Until then, have at it guilt-free, and know that your misspellings allows us Slog yahoos the chance to race to be first to point out minor errors.
See, in the last sentence - "misspellings allow", not "allows". But I wanted to race to be #33 more than I cared to proof. It all worked out fine.
My spelling is atrocious. I was always one of the first kids out in those humiliating classroom spelling bees. One of the tricks I have learned in the past year is to picture the word, then I amaze myself with (almost always) spelling the offending word correctly.
We were just talking about this over on questionland
@16, it has taken a few years to figure out where the source of some of my alternate spellings came from, KVOS tv 12 was one of the few channels we could receive at my house 40 years ago.
Colour, theatre... third grade teacher asking me "where I came from", programme, none of this helped my poor spelling.
What I wouldn't do for a Coffee Crisp right now.

My words, misspelled: recieve (except after c), obvious (spelled correctly, but I think it is wrong).
5280, thanks. I thought about it for a moment but then realized I didn't want to be crushed to death in horde of crazed Wal-Martians.


Matt, I found a website which states...

"some handbooks call for an apostrophe in the plural forms of numbers, letters, and words used as words:

How many 1's do we have in the line?
We put x's on the incorrect answers.
The no's resounded loudly throughout the chamber.

I find the final two examples reasonable because (to me) "xs" and "nos" just look funny. But with a number or a capitalized abbreviation, like TV, I think the s without an apostrophe looks perfectly fine (and I think "We put Xs on the incorrect answers." looks fine too.)

In any case, the use of an 's in those situations doesn't bother me. I only find it irksome when used with regular plural words.
37/MrBaker, re: Colour

I was listening to a British guy talk about American English vs. British English on NPR a couple weeks ago. He said that in some ways American English is actually more correct and, as an example, he used "color." He said that while many people think "colour" is the proper spelling, "color" is the original spelling. It was the Brits who changed it to "colour." Good explanation I found here.
I had a high school English teacher that taught me to be jealous of the Russians. "They don't have spelling contests in Russia, if you can say a word in Russian, you can spell the word in Russian," he said. My jealousy has never abated.
Grant, do you at least have a sense of when you're misspelling a word? I'm not a super speller and sometimes I wish I could not notice my own misspellings. The people who are poor spellers and have no idea that they're misspelling the words seem to lead happier lives.
@ stinkbug: I can usually tell it doesn't look right, then try to respell once or twice, and if that fails I right-click or google.
@40, Romanian is another language that is spelled the same as it's pronounced.

My bf is a smart guy but he is an atrocious speller. He says Hooked on Phonics fucked him up for life. He's always asking me how to spell words, which is a bit sad, since I didn't even start learning English till I was 7. But I made up for it somehow.

I have a very short attention span and am easily distracted.

My writing has gotten worse lately for this reason; I no longer stop to carefully proofread what I write, which sometimes has errors since my brain is moving faster than my fingers (and my keyboard is sucky and slow).
Grant, having a short attention span and being easily distracted is not a personality flaw. I too am easily distracted and kind of OCD I don't consider it a flaw, more like a quirk that gets in the way and often makes me late to work. Damn' dashing back to the apt. to make sure the door is locked!
Just remember: there's a rat in separate.
I always thought that I was an excellent speller, until I started using more recent programs with the auto "spell-check as you go" feature! I seem to trip up on words with repeated letters, or ones where the "I before E" rule breaks. Some of my bête noires are:

Years ago I had a computer science teacher suggest to me that a useful way to memorize how to spell a word was to use it as a login password. It's the only reason I can spell necessary.
As a sufferer from/of the poor speller issue, I hate to even post on slog, thanks to all the snide and downright mean comments about spelling and punctuation use. Or maybe it's just the mean comments in general...
Mean comments? On Slog? Really?
Beth, in my little over a year here, I've admittedly only read a small minority of comments but I haven't noticed that much meanness, either in general or about the way people write. The only flat-out meanness I've seen has been directed at one individual, primarily by one other person. Perhaps you're read many more comments than I have or perhaps it's a difference in perception or perhaps it's because I've seen much worse on other boards. But I hate to see anyone not post here out of fear of ridicule.

I got really excited when I thought this post was titled "Confessions of a Horrible Spider", which proves that I'm more of a terrible reader than a bad speller.
biggest pet peeve: "alot" when it should be "a lot"
Definitely & license are my two that never look right, even when I somehow manage to get them right.

I always have to stop and check these words:

knowledge (I often write knowlege)
occasionally (occaisionally)
maintenance (maintanence, maintainance)
compliment (complement) (I screwed this up on a worksheet I made for my students last week. Oops.)

On the other hand: "ridiculous." I can spell it, but millions of internet users can't, it seems, and whenever I see "rediculous" it jumps out of the screen and makes me want to throttle the person that typed it.
schedule...i can never spell schedule correctly on purpose.
I was always a fairly good speller, but I was able to fix a lot of problem words by taking Latin in high school. Learning a bunch of different roots often helps (such as in separate, which contains 'para' or 'piece'). Even though I've forgotten all my Latin, I've retained my spelling habits.

For that matter, it also greatly improved my grammar and syntax. Not having mandatory Latin classes might be one reason why the Internet is so unreadable.
Boy, I can identify with this piece! I have to check all the time, and even that isn't enough! Laptop keyboards are hard for me to use, but that's a pretty lame excuse, isn't it? I'll try to do better, honestly! With my spelling, not with my laptop.
I can't spell well either BUT I can tell if something is wrong. So I spell check. I can't believe (i before e except after c, remember?) how many people don't spell check. It's on your computer, use it, please.

The offense worse than poor spelling is principal/principle or the worst one, it's versus its.

To make you feel a little bit better there are two legitimate spellings of many words including license which the Bri'ish spell licence. Sometimes spelling for words makes no sense whatsoever. I can't count the number of times people misspell/misuse words when they sound alike. To and too seem to be the worst followed closely by your you're. I'm convinced that there are people who genuinely do not know (not no) the difference and that just because a word sounds the same does not mean it really is the same word. Those words are called homophones (which contrary to many people's beliefs are not phones owned by gay people.)
Grant, I recommend Marilyn vos Savant's book The Art of Spelling, which contains a list of strategies you can use to remember how problem words are spelled. It also has a fairly interesting discussion of just what is up with the English language (and also where some of its weird orthography comes from).

@48: Beth, SLOG is a Hobbesian state of nature. And God help any man who lets a typo slip into his epic dis on another commenter.

@60: From my reading, lose / loose are the two words nobody on the internet seems to know how to differentiate. WE HATES THEM FOREVER.
hey, did you know "euouae" is a word?
Great discussion, folks. I feel a little less like a fool, knowing I'm in such good company here. I used to think I was a really good speller (I had four years of Latin also, but it's fourty-four years since my last lesson), but in the last couple years I've been slipping a lot. Whether it's primarily from aging (61!) or because I've been using the Internet a lot I don't know. I've only been on line a few years.
There are three types of people:
Those who understand math,
and those who don't.
I heart you, Grant, no matter how well or unwell you spell. But! There's still a typo in your post:

(without even ever really knowing how to actually spell the it)

There are three types of people:
Those who understand math,
and those who don't.

lath, math, path . . . what is path?
I'm a fucking idiot, but a pretty good speller. Anyone want to trade? Seriously.

The other day I put on my shoes on before my pants when I was getting ready for work. I think I fractured a knuckle bone while punching a marble counter-top yesterday. Why was I doing this? I don't know. I forgot the name of a guy I've been working with for five years. but...


Any takers?
Liaison and beverage are mine. I alway want to put a "d" in the latter. And I do write liaison a lot, which is why it's a big deal for me.

Spellcheck is great, but not perfect. One of the the things I always run a find-and-replace on in the final drafts of the proposal I write is "pubic." I write the word "public" a lot, and spellcheck doesn't know that the "l" is missing. I almost sent a proposal to a federal agency that made reference to "Pubic Health" on the cover (it was a proposal that dealt with anthrax prophylaxis, which made it even least to me coming off an all-nighter).
"I can never seem to remember how to spell certain words ... I have a very short attention span and am easily distracted. What the hell is my problem?"

Followed by:

"These were due to poor self-editing and being stoned last night."

Perhaps I'm confusing correlation with causation here, but it seems a lot of your cognitive issues might stem from a single, unifying force.

I'm actually a proponent for legalization of pot, but you know, moderation in all things.
Seriously, Fish Wrench, shoes before pants?? Sounds like maybe more of a caffeine imbalance. And don't you want to put an "e" in judgment...judgement? And occassion, ocassion, occasion (there we go, no squiggly red spell check line...)
@ 64
There are 10 types of people:
Those who understand binary, and those who don't.

Please wait...

Comments are closed.

Commenting on this item is available only to members of the site. You can sign in here or create an account here.

Add a comment

By posting this comment, you are agreeing to our Terms of Use.