I just edited last night's post because I happened to notice I'd left the first P off of "people". Anal-retentive? Moi? Only about spelling. My own
, or in published documents.
Spelling is another of my pet peeves. I don't mind typos and spelling errors in email, IM, letters, or casual writing like LJ (lest anyone get paranoid and stop writing to me!), and in fact while I usually correct my own typos if I notice them, I sometimes let them slide or don't notice them in those contexts. (I feel the need to reiterate this several more times. It's my
spelling that I'm anal about. Not yours. Any of you.)
I do have a strong dislike for intentional misspelling of the 3l33t d00d warez ilk. Certain words, such as "boi" and "grrl", which use a changed spelling to connote a distinctly different meaning than the original word, are fine with me. But please, if you're writing to me, take the millisecond of extra time and write 'you' instead of 'u' and 'are' instead of 'r'. I can wait that long. It takes me far longer to read intentionally misspelled words--or to type them: I have to think out each letter instead of following the normal pattern. Spelling is one of my semi-useless talents: I recognize words by their pattern, and misspelled words stand out because the pattern is wrong. I think that might be why I can read so quickly: it's almost as if English were a ideographic language like Chinese, and each word's meaning is encompassed within its shape.
I was the district spelling champion three years running, and the Wisconsin state spelling champion in the eighth grade, though to get to that point required a lot of nightly spelling drills learning more and more esoteric words.
For the record I earned twelfth place in the national competition. I was eliminated on the word "frigorimeter", which dictionary.com doesn't even have an entry for. It means a thermometer for very cold temperatures, and I spelled it "frigarimeter". Funny the things that stick in one's head: this happened in the summer of 1982! I also remember the very last word of the state bee: emu
, and the very last word of the national bee: beriberi
Spelling bees always contain a large element of luck as well as skill and practice. The order of the word list is determined before the event, the turn order of the contestants is drawn from a hat, and depending on when your turn comes up you might get something very easy or something extremely difficult. I knew every single word that the national champion happened to get, but didn't know one of mine. C'est la guerre.
But returning to my spelling peeve, what really gets to me are published books containing spelling errors or words which are clearly Just Wrong, and appear to have been selected from the spellchecker correction list by mistake. There's a place in Laurell K. Hamilton's book Bloody Bones
where the word catamount
appears in place of the correct word catamite
. I'm quite sure Laurell knows the difference, and the error crept in somewhere along the line. Modern books are getting worse and worse in this regard. The recently published Great Book of Amber
, by Roger Zelazny, contains numerous word-choice errors and even a missing paragraph (one of the preceding paragraphs is duplicated in its stead).
Bring back human proofreaders!