Sunday, January 17, 2010

The lost art of basic spelling

The English language must be dying. In the past decade I have seen so many instances of poor spelling and improper usage of words that it makes me angry. I'm angry because people in all lines of work get away with their blissful ignorance of how to spell, punctuate or otherwise use the written word.

A fine example was from late last year when a local, mom and pop-type convenience store a few blocks from my office opened in what had been a vacant location. For over two weeks they proudly displayed a vinyl lettered banner draped across a portion of their building proclaiming their "Grand Openning".

Yes, this hung for two weeks and there are at least two "professionals" at fault for this one. Obviously, the store's owner(s) contacted a sign shop to purchase this banner and the sign shop created the banner. Somewhere along the line, an ignoramus, assuming that opening would logically have two Ns in it made the sign as such. It's also obvious being that the convenience store hung the sign that they didn't think this was an error either. So now the tally of third grade flunky spellers totals at least two.

To begin with, in my line of work I wouldn't have made a spelling error like that but let's say that I had by way of a keystroke error - I would have corrected it upon reading my work or one of my department's proofreaders would have instantly redmarked it and I would have made the change before anyone beyond the two of us had seen it. If something on this scale would have slipped through the cracks (and it has happened a couple of times) the customer would have likely noticed it and we, as a company, would eat the cost of making the correction and replacing the product.

But apparently today, in the error of cut-rate everything, people have no knowledge of basic elementary spelling. Errors like the example I've used tell me that the divide between smart and uneducated, rich and poor, attentive and slovenly - is widening at an alarming pace. We might be closer than we ever imagined to careening down that slippery slope portrayed in the barely-noticed movie "Idiocracy".

So with this example I urge you to take a couple seconds and examine everything you do which will be seen by anyone outside of your household. Critique your own spelling and educate yourself if the schools failed you. It's never too late to learn how to spell.

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