I know not everyone spells as well as I do, nor were most people raised by an aspiring author and an editor, nor granddaughter to a superintendent for a special-needs school. English mistakes weren’t tolerated while I grew up. My father carried around pens and even a marker to correct misspellings in public. When I filled out a complaint for animal control, I also corrected a misspelling on their form in red pen. It’s not a surprise to anyone in my family that I ended up writing for pay. I’m not perfect, but hey, no one is.
My son is quickly following the family trend — he’s reading way above grade level, enjoys it immensely, and even is having to have his time spent reading limited because he’s been trading in sleep for more reading time. I hope my daughter shares his love of books and reading, and I hope both of them excel in reading and writing naturally.
But man, when you look around at intentional misspellings of companies, and common writing styles accepted on the internet, it’s seeming like a much more difficult goal to accomplish. I kind of fear for the children right now and their future language development.
One look at Facebook, Craigslist, or many a teen’s text message is enough to make the Schoolhouse Rock generations cry… Conjunction Junction, do ANY of these kids know your function?!
One of the first groups I joined on CafeMom, almost 4 years ago, was Moms for Spell-Check. It was very, very refreshing to be in a group with women who utilized the feature and cared that their written word was actually comprehended by the people they were trying to communicate with… especially important when all people can see of you is what you write. It’s both hilarious and sad when someone is asking for help and types so badly that the replies all have to ask, “Um, can you fix that? I can’t tell what you’re asking,” and the OP gets upset… sorry folks, but people can’t answer if they can’t understand!
But worse than online communities is the large scale misspellings that are intentional… and often put in front of childrens’ faces every day.
Not to mention the many, many times that signs are put up in places of business with misspellings that even the most basic spell-check on the computer they obviously used would have caught, and even worse when they paid money for a permanent fixture with an easy-to-catch misspelling:
That’s at a school, people!
Honestly, when it’s considered “cute” to intentionally misspell things, and more and more moms are giving names where traditional names are changed by putting a “Y” where an ‘ie’ was or a ‘K’ where a ‘C’ was, and the same moms often make substitutions in their daily writing as well, it’s not really any surprise that when I was searching for reviews of schools for my son, I found:
i love this school my child goes there
—Submitted by a parent
I do admit, though, that without these people, I’d never get to laugh calories away thanks to websites like Cake Wrecks and Engrish.com which rely heavily on people with a poor grasp of the English language (well, that and poor decorating skills)…
But in all seriousness, illiteracy is such a huge problem in this country that this turn towards lazy and intentional poor use of the English language is terrible.
- 50 percent of adults cannot read a book written at an eighth grade level.
- 20 percent of Americans are functionally illiterate and read below a 5th grade level.
- Approximately 50 percent of Americans read so poorly that they are unable to perform simple tasks such as balancing a checkbook and reading prescription drug labels.
As parents, that last one is the reason why acetaminophen medications are now limited to one single form of medication, why we lost children’s cough syrups, amongst other things… things like these sad and hilarious misspelled tattoos…
People think that typing shorthand or “creatively” is no big deal, but let’s face it, it IS. Don’t take shortcuts in your own writing and don’t accept it from your children as well. Require text messages from teens to be fully written, including punctuation. Who cares if it takes longer? Which is more important — their future language skills or whether or not they can shave off 5 seconds from their texting?
If you own a business, find an intelligent way to do a play on words. No need to misspell things. It’s really not cute. In fact, when choosing between two businesses in a phone book, I’ll choose to avoid the one with “creative” spelling because to me, I don’t see the creativity, I just see the wrong, and that’s all children see as well. You can’t hold it against your child if you text your teen with “c u when u get home. grab milk cuz were out” and then they turn around and don’t do so hot in English. Make it a priority, make it standard, make real English the only acceptable English in your household. I’m totally serious when I say that if I find my kids using text speak, I will take away their cellphones or tell them I will proof-read all their private messages on Facebook until they get it right.
And yes, I understand that people with learning disabilities or dyslexia can struggle. Thankfully, the internet provides lots of resources. Oh, and considering half the time I’m typing one-handed while nursing a baby, as are half our readers, that’s not really a good excuse either. I write for a living and promise you I wrote about two months’ worth of posts with one hand. Of course, someone will insist I’m suggesting something excessive and ridiculous, and will point out all my grammatical or spelling errors, or call me a hypocrite. Go for it, I actually appreciate constructive criticism. If you choose to do so with the kind of English I’m ranting about, though, I’ll get a good chuckle out of it. Maybe I can even get some material to add to funnytypos.com!
Oh, and while you’re at it? Check out The Oatmeal’s “10 Words You Need To Stop Misspelling.” Please. I beg you.
And spell-check? The ‘th’ at the end of the word ‘with’ is not a misspelling. That’s just scary.