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Should I Spell It Out for You?

laptop.2Anyone who knows me knows that there is one thing that is guaranteed to make me crazy. (OK, there are lots of things, but this issue, in particular, is sure to get an immediate hair-tearing response.) That would be spelling/grammatical errors, whether on TV, in emails from magazines, newspapers, etc., or online posts from large media outlets. In this day and age of people assuming (you all do know what happens when you ASS U ME, I hope) that all they need is some form of Spell Check to make everything right, let me assure you that proofreaders/copy editors should not be optional employees.

The moment I see a post with the wrong word or a misspelling used in the header, I immediately newspaper3disregard that post and go on to the next one – unless, of course, it’s really juicy. When I read a newspaper (yes, I still do read the paper on occasion), and find multiple spelling errors throughout that paper, I groan and find it difficult to concentrate on what I’m reading. Once again, I’m talking about professional posts that are going out to thousands of people, being written by (presumably) paid employees of that business. Yes, errors by individuals sending private emails or posting something online also bug me, but I can let those go because they are not being paid to get information out to the public. I just grind my teeth and force myself to let it go. Let it go…

dinosaurAnyway, I don’t know if it’s a sign of the times that in this day and age of instant information, fewer and fewer people find it necessary to take the time to make sure that what they’re putting out there is error-free. No one seems to care anymore. I don’t think that this is necessarily a generational issue either. I know plenty of people who are not dinosaurs who are deeply irked when they see this kind of sloppy writing.


So, for your amusement and possible enlightenment, here are some recent examples of emails and posts I’ve seen that have caused the aforementioned hair-tearing. I didn’t note all of the sources,  but believe me, they are all real.



1. WARNING: These rescue dog transformations are going to make you ball your eyes out!

My question: Is someone going to be flinging balls at our eyes?




2. Exiting Offers for the Weekend – 40% Off

Presumably, these offers are already out the door, so don’t bother going.


3. The Washington Post Wednesday, March 12, 2014 2:00:23 PM
News Alert
Controversial Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer won’d seek third term

Come on, Washington Post, really? Not one second to check your header before you send a mass e-mail out?


4. Is Your Conscious Clear?

Uh, I think so?


5. And now, a few choice from Cameron Diaz words on Gwyneth’s divorce

Not that I really care about anyone’s conscious uncoupling, but I have two issues with this header. The first, more obvious issue is that the sentence is complete gibberish. The second, is that the reader might assume (!) that Cameron Diaz is going to say something snarky about Gwynnie by the way the sentence is almost worded, but in fact, she defends her in the paragraph that I had no interest in reading.


6. From Entertainment Tonight:

Meanwhile, Jay Leno, 63, announced his last guests before he turns over The Tonight Show. On Feb. 3, his predecessor Fallon will appear on the show, but on his final night, Feb. 6, Billy Crystal, who was Leno’s first guest in May 1992 when he succeeded Johnny Carson, will appear on the program along with country singer Garth Brooks, The Associated Press reports.

Did I miss something in 1992?


So yes, we laugh, but it’s also kind of sad that the rush to inform trumps accuracy and pride in the finished product. Good writing should not be optional when something is going out to the world. That being said, I feel compelled to reveal that I do have one particular word that I believe should have its spelling changed as soon as possible. If there is some committee to contact for this issue, please let me know.

My  nominee is the word judgment. Seriously, what the heck happened to the ‘e’ there? When I was in college, I had to write a paper about the Social Judgment Theory. Up until that assignment, I had never paid attention to the word judgment and its lack of an ‘e’ where one would assume (!) an ‘e’ would be. So when I was busily researching this theory in the university library, imagine my shock when every book I picked up was missing that crucial ‘e.’ The spelling of this word makes no sense at all. And yes, there are many other words in the English language that have spellings that are absurd, but this one has irked me throughout the years. Way past the time that I can remember anything about the Social Judgment Theory, the only thing that remains is my deep belief that the so-called correct spelling of the word judgment is just plain wrong.

quill__scroll_2_rhyvvHow did this happen? You have the word judge. Why would you drop the ‘e’ at the end?I have a theory. I can picture the first dictionary scribe painstakingly writing out the words in the very first dictionary. He gets to the word judgment, which he knows should have been spelled judgement. He carefully writes the first few letters: j…u…d…g… He is about to put the ‘e’ in and accidentally knocks over his drinking vessel filled with grog. He quickly swipes away the liquid so it doesn’t smear all of his hard work  away. He sighs with relief, and in his agitated state, he continues writing: m…e…n…t.  No one notices at first, and several months go by until one day, the Master of the Dictionary happens upon the word by chance. He calls the dictionary scribe in for interrogation.

“Can you explain why in the world you would have written the word ‘judgment’ without the first ‘e’ since there is no proper way to pronounce it the way it is written?” the dictionary master demands.

The dictionary scribe quakes in his boots. He frantically searches his mind for a response that won’t result in his hanging. “Well, my lord, it seemed perfectly sensible at the time,” the scribe offers. “After all, think of all the ink it has saved not only now, but in all future dictionaries, to have one less ‘e’ in the word.”

The dictionary master, being a man who is always looking to pinch a penny, agrees that this is most sensible. And there you go.

I happen to be tired of spelling a word based on a spilled cup of grog. And, when I do see this wordLatin_dictionary misspelled approximately 90% of the time, I nod in agreement and solidarity. So if anyone is aware of the committee to change the spelling of inanely spelled words, please advise. But meanwhile, I beg you, check your spelling twice, write it once. Thank you for your understanding. And the hairs on my head thank you, too.



Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved


2 responses »

  1. How about the abbreviated spelling used in texts? Carol

    Sent from my iPhone



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