One question I was asked over and over as a teacher was “Does spelling count?” When I received the comment I’ve used in my title above on my website, I wished I were still teaching. The kids would have roared over that one and the lesson would have been easily learned.
Yes, spelling counts.
“Standardized spelling enables readers to understand writing, to aid communication and ensure clarity.” This quote from the Huffington Post Canada puts its case simply and leaves no room for all the dross of argument on the subject put forth by so many in our world of easily accessible technology today.
In a Lifestyle online article on the subject, eight reasons for an affirmative reply to the question of whether spelling counts include communication, standards, avoiding confusion, enabling future prospects, failures with SpellCheck, comprehension, distraction, and making a good impression. In spite of the Twitter-byte style of the type in that article, an annoying method of communication in my opinion, the points are well taken, even if the list is improperly set up with varying parts of speech describing the eight reasons why good spelling is important.
Communication: We need to write correctly so that our words are clear and easy to understand.
Standards: It is our language and some of us would like to preserve its lovely idiosyncrasies and see those maintained.
Avoidance of confusion: “Suck” and “such” have entirely different meanings and while the humor is welcomed for the purposes of this post, spelling words incorrectly can result in hurt feelings, gross insults or worse.
The enabling of future prospects: Those resumes full of spelling mistakes don’t even get looked at, especially if the position is for a job which demands an excellent facility with language.
Failures with SpellCheck: No one can rely on a computer to know all the intricacies of language with impunity. We must be able to see when the computer is wrong and, believe me, that happens all the time. Just ask a novelist about all the green underlining in Word for items which the computer deems incorrect. Same for grammar checkers.
Comprehension: Sometimes words are spelled so badly or so many errors can be found that the intended meaning of the sentence is lost. Believe me, I’ve seen it in the classroom and in writing critique groups.
Distraction: Picture it. You’re really immersed in that great book and can hardly wait to turn the page. Suddenly a word is misspelled. And then another one. Maybe even a third. Your mind switches away from the hero’s last words to his best friend. Instead you wonder why those words are spelled incorrectly. You are distracted. Do we as authors want that? Absolutely not.
The creation of a good impression: You are meeting the person you’ve spent much of your life idolizing and write an email finalizing the details. You rush. You don’t reread it. You miss grammar and spelling errors and even leave out important details such as where the meeting will take place. Your idol will definitely form an impression of you before ever seeing you. With an email like that, what do you suppose that impression will be?
Some of my dearest author friends make no secret of their lack of spelling acumen but their books shine with correctness and with intelligence, wit, and information. They know spelling is not their forte but they are smart enough to find someone to make sure their writing is correct. And that very action underlines the importance of correct spelling.
So, yes, spelling counts. I believe so strongly in this that I try very hard not to model bad spelling when I text my young grandchildren (8 years old). How can they learn what is correct if they don’t see it?
“What a remarkable book! I just finished yesterday….It is one of those books that, at the end of each chapter, the urge is to ‘just read one more chapter’ before turning out the light….I had no idea what is involved in organizing such a fund raising venture and ventures across Canada and you explained it so well….[This] book that you wrote on his life and huge contributions needed to be written….Thanks for putting your writing skills to work into the life of Ron Calhoun.” John Snoddy
“Just finished your first book in your Loyalist trilogy – really, really enjoyed it. Those folks sure were hardy types in those days – I don’t think I could even survive a walk to the outhouse – hahaha. Looking forward to reading the next one.” Lisa Hutchison
“I loved the book. [The Man Behind the Marathons] So glad for the way you set it up. It kept me reading. And then the section on Ron came just as I was about headed to Google to see what led Ron to be the guy he was. The quality of the paper was a real asset. Top quality for a top quality story about a top quality guy. Congratulations. I felt your heart in every page. Thanks for letting me have an early look at the book. Very cherished.” Sue Hilborn
“Just finished your book. [The Man Behind the Marathons] It is great – so many interesting things about Terry and Steve (whom I had forgotten about). Ron’s story is, if possible, even more interesting. I can see why you were drawn into his life as a suitable subject for your first nonfiction. I did wonder how Ron’s one set of clothes washed by his mother every night were dry for school the next morning . . . and which race your ‘young daughter’ beat you in.” Wayne C.
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“It was a pleasure to be at the LWS meeting last night. Great information shared. Love your books and writing style. I will give them as gifts. They bring this time in history to life in a way that one will never forget. Thank you!” Rosemary
“Elaine Cougler has written a page-turning novel of the American Revolution through the eyes of a conflicted loyalist soldier and his indomitable wife. You’ll feel the hardship of homesteading, the fear of the enemy, the blows of battle, and the pain of separation. You’ll be transported through history. This is not just a novel written about another time, it seems written in another time.” Terry Fallis, author of The Best Laid Plans, Stephen Leacock medal winner
“I bought all three books at Probus club meeting in London. I loved the stories. I am now a student reading more about the war of 1812. Thank you for your stories. Love your writing style.” Gwen Moore
“I was delighted with the way you handled the Norwich Rebellion in the last Loyalist book, Elaine, and have heard many positive comments about it.” Marie A.
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“The Loyalist’s Luck is one of the best sequels I’ve read in a long time. It picks up right where The Loyalist’s Wife left off and takes the reader to Canada with a group of Loyalists escaping the American Revolution.” Denise F