I realize the Brazen Careerist did not get to append ‘brazen’ to her title without being unconventional. But this is a blatant attack on language and we of the Coalition of English majors will not stand for it, sah! Ma’am. Whatever.
The Brazen Careerist has 5 reasons why she thinks writing without typos is outdated. (Is anyone surprised? If you want to be really brazen, go do what the Self-Made Chick did and make a list with only 2 reasons. 2 is an unpopular number, an outcast number. 2 is the loneliest number since the number one, people. Challenge: make yourself some 2-reason lists. A lot of them. Make 7 2-reason lists. And then we can escalate from there.)
The bullet points of this argument, and my objections thereof, are:
1. Spellchecker isn’t perfect. No. No it isn’t. But Spellchecker should not be the only saving grace of your spelling. Spellchecker is your safety net. Spellchecker is supposed to catch you when you can’t remember if you’re supposed to spell mischievous the way everyone pronounces it (Mis-cheev-E-us), or the way it is spelled in the good ol’ Oxford English. Spellchecker is not there to catch your every error, it is there to act as a perfunctory editor, to catch the times when you inadvertently transpose two letters. And you go, thanks, Spellchecker! I did mean to say ‘your’ and not ‘yuor’! You’re the best!
2. Spelling has nothing to do with intelligence. Ho-hoh, I beg to differ, here. I believe what the BC meant to say is that the inability to spell does not necessarily connote stupidity, because she then goes on to cite dyslexia, from which several of my friends suffer. Yet, because they ARE intelligent people, these dyslexic friends of mine, they know that spelling properly makes for more effective communication, and so they work their little butts off to counter that disability. (Dude, I can’t do math. Can you imagine if I told the IRS that math skills weren’t essential to intelligence? They’d have me in some shackles, even if I had the brilliant idea that they should give me money this year. Which, let us face it, is a brilliant idea.)
We all saw this little gem wander around the internet a few years ago (and BC actually cites it) but be honest: you could stumble through it, but it was kind of a pain in the ass. And if someone sent you an email with the letters transposed like that, you would get rid of it. Not because you assumed the person was stupid. But because it was not worth your time. Smart people know that every tool in your arsenal that promotes effective communication ought to be used. If you can spell, and you are too lazy to cast a quick eye over the thing to make sure it looks okay, then that is, in a word, dumb. Un-intelligent. Just plain wrong, when you make your living by writing.
And I’m going to WAY out on a limb here and say that with the exception of people with learning disabilities, the smarter kids in my school were better spellers. They were better at a whole lot of stuff, including forming a logical and compelling argument. Spelling was up there. Does bad spelling automatically imply poor reasoning? Nah. It’d make me wonder, though. Do you really want to start off five steps behind the rest of the pack when trying to make your point?
3. You don’t have unlimited time, so spend it on ideas, not hyphens. This was the most idiotic one for me. Typos, fine. Everyone misses a typo here and there, that’s life. And no, your grammatical skills do not have to be AP Stylebook-worthy. But seriously, if you have a basic (read: high-school level) grasp of spelling and grammar, it should not take you more time to use those tools while writing. It is not a time-waster. I can write all of these thoughts down without having once to stop and grab my dictionary. Or my Chicago Manual of Style. Or my thesaurus. Though they’re all sitting right next to me, looking very pretty indeed. Here’s the thing: If it is taking BC more than an extra second or two to correct a quick spelling error here and there, then something is seriously wrong. And, looking at how far the U.S. has fallen in terms of education, I’d be willing to put a bet that the something that is wrong is that our students ain’t learning.
You know what DOES waste time? Having to make sure I understand what a person is trying to communicate because of overt typos and spelling errors. Come along with me for a minute to the comment board over at Slate:
One sidede reporting as usual! Once again your article is slanted toward Obama, why don’t you just give up trying to report on the issues and anouce this is an Obama Site. Hillary has gotten support to stay in the race, although you and others have tried to railroad her into quiting, not going to happen and be prepared for an upset in her favor.
How many of you took a minute to sort out ‘sidede’? ‘Anouce’? ‘Quiting’? It’s not that I think this man is dumb. I just think it’s too much effort to find out if he isn’t.
4. Perfectionism is a disease. I thought this one was just hilarious. I think this was born out of BC getting irritating little commentary from professional grammarians on whether she’d correctly used ‘whom’. And yes, BC, those are annoying little twits, those perfectionist bastards. And if there’s some guy out there who’s picking on the ONE time you said ‘snig’ when you meant ‘sing’, I think you should SMITE HIM FROM ABOVE, because nobody likes that guy. Here’s the thing – one or two typos, no big deal. We all type pretty fast these days, and we’re in a hurry. I get that. The entire paragraph of typos is going to make me wonder what your grade-school English teacher was smoking while she was teaching you.
People who spell correctly are not, by and large, perfectionists. We just passed eighth grade, that’s all. We’re perfectly safe. We mean you no harm.
5. Use the comments section for what matters: Intelligent discourse. Now, see, BC, I’m totally with you here. I suspect, in fact, that this whole long-winded article of yours was in fact a frustrated rant in the “Get the fuck off my back, you grammar Nazis!’ realm. And that is cool. I don’t want you to have to deal with comments about your grammar either. Let them talk about the issues. You don’t need to try to topple the English language just to get the monkeys off your back. Just tell me where they live. I will go and stab a threatening note into their door with a quill pen.
But I’m telling you, every single bloody word in that threatening note will be spelled properly. Because otherwise, how would they know to take me seriously?