bitten by the spelling bee

Bitten by the Spelling Bee!!


Vivek Hande

I cannot say my spellings are always perfect but I do try. Nothing irritates me more than seeing a word spelled (not spelt) incorrectly on the Television screen or hoardings or advertisements or banners or in power-point presentations of my residents. I get an irrestible urge to take a brush or a pen or a mouse and do the necessary corrections every time a ghastly mistake pops up-it is a reflex thing.

In a research brought out by BBC in 2011, it was highlighted that nearly 70% of people lost faith in the quality of a website and doubted the honesty of its content if it was riddled with spelling mistakes. They took their business or queries to another website. Some years ago, Chile lost huge amounts in revenue when their 50 peso currency came out with the spelling “Chiie” instead of Chile. The whole process of minting had to be repeated and lots of people in quality control lost their jobs – all because of a spelling error!


Oxford Dictionary lists the 250 commonly made spelling mistakes the world over. Respect the words in the italics and remember that very often we have spelled them incorrectly as well. I don’t wish to exaggerate but the most conscientious speller could also land up embarrassing oneself with the silliest spelling mistakes. Someone once remarked that a synonym is a word you use when you cannot spell the other one. At times, spelling mistakes could result in humourous situations and at other times could unknowingly be mischievous!  For instance a man sent a SMS message to his neighbour apologizing for using his wife through the day without obtaining his permission. While the neighbour was still recovering from the shock, he got another message apologizing for the wrong spelling –he meant WIFI and not WIFE!  Another man who wrote to his wife about a grand holiday he was having. “I am having a wonderful time. Wish you were her.” He meant “here”. Just in jest but it almost sent the neighbour and the holidaying husband to the cemetery!!

I have the list of these common bloopers in my possession and I don’t want to lose it and I am not writing loosely when I say that almost each one of us would have to be careful when one attempted to successfully spell some of these very common words.  The government should probably definitely set up a committee to correct the disastrous spellings floating on various signboards and hoardings – if you have to use a language, let us do it well and let there be a noticeable absence of these eye-sores! Whether you agree with me or not is another matter but the problem of these errors happens through all seasons and all kinds of weather. Thoughts of personally correcting these mistakes have occurred to me on more than one occasion. This is honestly not a very bizarre idea or a personal idiosyncrasy. I feel we should be aggressive about correcting these errors and we could be successful if we liaised with the correct authorities in pursuing this matter.spelling 1

English is a beautiful language and if we were to use it, we ought to with care and diligence and with an effort to at least spell correctly. As Marilyn vos Savant remarked, “When our spelling is perfect, it is invisible. But when it is flawed, it prompts strong negative associations.” But then Mark Twain had another perspective, “Anyone who can only think of one way to spell a word obviously lacks imagination!”