This Space for Rent

Sep 042003
Authors: Thea Domber

Crossword Puzzles Never Get Finished in My House

I’ll admit it. I have lost a good number of my brain cells since I came to CSU. Not from drugs or alcohol; not from 19-credit semesters with 3 term papers and not from late night concerts with decibel levels higher than a jet plane’s.

No, it is because I have discovered that English is one hard language to spell!

Admittedly, I have sarcastically claimed that I speak and write in American since the age of 5, but I digress.

Even my professors in journalism and English commonly pause from their tirades on the white board to ask if anyone knows how to spell definitely or separately. You can practically hear all of our brains chanting “duh” in glorious, ignorant unison.

This fear of stupidity started when I realized I had forgotten how to spell words I once knew so well. Cemetery, obnoxious, their/they’re/there…that kind of stuff. I was tutoring a four-year-old last summer and we fought over the correct spelling of “fictitious.” The little snot was right and I have had a headache ever since. I suppose I could blame it on the computer and its laziness-inducing spell checker, but I will not go that route. I know that at one time, I knew how to spell these words.

Maybe spelling words correctly is not so important to scientists who are more worried about the spelling of chemical compounds, or to doctors whose writing is intelligible anyway. How I am supposed to write my multi-million selling novella if I’m mistakenly leading readers to think that the main character was lost in a dessert for 10 years? Will my r/sum/ get tossed in the garbage because they think I was a manger instead of a manager?

And sports games are a modern masterpiece of spelling errors. I know. I love any and every sport and was a season ticket holder to the Yankees until I voyaged out west to CSU. Sure, they can creatively fit E-S-P-N into their sign, but they also alternately declare “Get Sum at Yankee Stadium!” and “Score a Gole!”

When I was in fourth grade, spelling tests were a common thing. We had one every week. If you aced all four tests, you got a free sundae from Friendly’s. Talk about your brilliant bribery schemes! The National Spelling Bee once had reason to fear my wrath. Now I’d probably be thrown out Dan Quayle-style on “potato.”

Certainly, English is the language that lures you into thinking a rule is correct, and then finding an exception for every single one until you are left in a ball of illogical despair. I do not know how people who are raised with a language that makes sense (i.e. just about any other language) ever learn English. I would probably give up, declare “oubliez ceci”, and be done with it.

Lastly, I relate to Charlie Brown. Finally I understand the plight of the elementary and middle school students. Spelling is the new American epidemic. Watch out, it’s infectious.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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