Spelling words correctly doesn’t come naturally to most people, mainly because English words aren’t always spelled like they sound.
There are silent ks and ghs, there are weird vowel combinations, and many different meanings behind the same sounding word: their, there and they’re, for example.
It’s possible that, at other points in history, using words spelled properly was on the decline.
But now, I think, people simply don’t care about spelling things correctly. Which is funny, because we are communicating more through written means today than we have since the invention of the radio and the telephone.
Think about it: people communicate through blogs, emails, text messages, status updates, Tweets — all things that require written language. Yet the spelling of many of these messages is becoming, at the risk of spelling a big word wrong, atrocious.
Once upon a time, people used to communicate on paper. The only way of conveying a message across a great distance was either by writing a letter and sending it through the mail or with a messenger, or by having it printed in a newspaper.
Letters from that time that still exist today show a marked attention to detail; the writing was lovely, each letter formed perfectly. Not all the spelling was correct — each generation seemed to take its own liberties with which letters went in what word — but it was uniform. Care could be seen in the writing itself.
But today, at the risk of sounding like one of those grammar police on Facebook, there is no care. People bang away on a keyboard and they don’t seem to be paying much attention to that keyboard as they do so. What ends up online ends up looking like so much gobbledegook (yes, that’s a word, and it’s spelled right).
I was Googling various things on the computer last week, searching for possible topics for discussion in this space, and I came across post after post that was extremely difficult to read, not only due to either a lack of knowledge or a lack of attention to spelling, but also because there was little to no punctuation, and a wealth of internet shorthand thrown in to complicate matters.
I know there are typos in the Journal every week — though things get proofed three to four times, there still seem to be mistakes that make it onto the press. Things even get by our editorial proofreader, who has a dictionary and a Canadian Press stylebook embedded in her brain somewhere, I swear it.
So I understand that some of these mistakes just slip through the cracks for people. To err is human, after all, they say — at least, that’s what someone said.
But at least we try to get things right.
That’s more than I can say for many others, some of whom seem to be posting things on the internet constantly.
Run your eyes over what you’ve written before you send it out there, is all that I ask. And maybe switch the h and g around to where they are supposed to be.
Future generations who look back on those posts will thank you, and maybe their opinion of you will go up just a little bit.
See, we care — at least a little, is the message we can send them.
Because we do care — at least a little.