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Deos it rellay mtaetr if it's slpelled corerclty or not?

Posted Thursday, February 18, 2010, at 2:34 PM

If you post a comment online, and all the words are spelled correctly, and all the commas are in the right places, other people may argue with your opinion. But if you post incomplete sentences and don't spell even simple words correctly, it's likely you'll be written off as not too intelligent and your opinion is discounted.

On the Greene County Daily World site and other news sites as well, when comments are made that look like they came from someone who didn't do well in the first grade let alone the second, other posters will frequently make fun of the bad speller's IQ without giving their opinion the time of day.

It's even worse when you're a writer and misspelled words make it into print. Although many people don't seem to notice those mistakes, many others do. I think more do than don't. And they form an opinion.

For the last few years, there's been an e-mail going around that tries to show that spelling is not really important, because people can still read and understand what's written even when words are spelled wrong. I recently got it again. Here it is ...

"Can you raed this? I cdnuolt blveiee that I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd what I was rdanieg. Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in what oerdr the ltteres in a word are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is that the frsit and last ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can still raed it whotuit a pboerlm. This is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the word as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? Yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!"

Literally thousands of blog posts and comments have been made about this paragraph and this phenomena. I'm sure bad spellers love it as some kind of proof that their mistakes should not be such a big deal.

But, it turns out the whole thing is a hoax.

One could spend all day reading all of the opinions pro and con about that one paragraph, and I've not got that kind of time but here's what I have found in a short search ...

Several bloggers say they checked on this "research" and it doesn't exist.

Some word people offer long-winded explanations about how all the vowels remain in the correct order but if those were all switched around, then reading becomes impossible, which disproves the theory.

Others launch into talks about the human mind and where spelling information is stored, and retrieved, with mentions of dyslexia.

But the best argument I noticed was that the whole theory breaks down in other languages, like Finnish, Arabic, Thai, Turkish, Hebrew. We can manage to read that paragraph in English, but scramble words like that in most other languages and human minds can't read it at all.

An actual researcher in the Brain and Cognitive Sciences Unit at Cambridge University writes about the paragraph online at http://www.mrc-cbu.cam.ac.uk/people/matt...

The e-mail is just a fun way to exercise your mind -- like a crossword puzzle or a trivia quiz, but it doesn't prove spelling isn't important.

When writing a story or posting online, mistakes happen, they just do, and I admit I make them every day.

But with modern spell checkers and grammar checkers, there's no excuse, except for those few words that manage to get past the checkers.

The bottom line is, whether writing a story, a letter, an e-mail or a comment, if we want people to think we have some smarts and value our opinion, we all need to at least try to get it right.

Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

Hlsoetny, I arege taht it is a haox. It is qiute ovuobis taht eevn if you lveae the fsrit and lsat letetrs of yuor wrods the smae, it is not awalys pibolsse to rtieerve the cexontt of waht you hvae weitrtn. I aslo feel taht the laegrr the wrod, scuh as crotrhalaeiogaccl, sfprectoeulroomter, enoomistialm, and polhyocogcitasphal--the haderr it bmeoces to urnlbcamse thier mieanng.

-- Posted by per moenia urbis on Thu, Feb 18, 2010, at 3:19 PM

Per moenia, I was reading along fine until you got to the larger words. And then your right. It's becomes very difficult to unscramble their meaning.

-- Posted by Rambler 85 on Thu, Feb 18, 2010, at 3:28 PM

Anna, I completely agree with your opinion on the importance of spelling, thanks for sharing!

-- Posted by MS on Thu, Feb 18, 2010, at 3:45 PM

"What frustrates me the most is misuse of "your, you're" or "to, two, too" or "their, there". A person doesn't need need to have an in depth knowledge of their native language and grammar rules, i.e. past participles, predicates, etc. in order to be able to speak or write but simple things like spelling and punctuation make a big difference in clear communication."

need need?

LOL sorry, just couldn't resist!

-- Posted by whatanut on Fri, Feb 19, 2010, at 11:28 AM

It did if you were in any of Mrs. Jackson's English Comp. classes. Your essay would come back with two grades and red ink all over it. You proof read everything, including your own name!!

-- Posted by OkieJoe on Fri, Feb 19, 2010, at 12:39 PM

Has anyone read the Lewis and Clark journals (in their original form)? Both are constantly misspelling words. Uniform spelling is a fairly modern concept that didn't exist until well into the 20th century. That said, I'm the same way as the author of this story. I find that sometimes the message is lost if the spelling is incorrect.

-- Posted by For Liberty on Wed, Feb 24, 2010, at 10:58 AM

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Anna Rochelle is editor of the Greene County Daily World and can be reached on Facebook or by sending an email to indianarose@fastmail.us.