Bad Spellers

The man’s tee-shirt said, “Bad spellers of the world untie.” It was a big hit at the Baltimore airport last week. Even the attendant on the plane commented. I suspect she was one, too.

For me, spelling is like algebra.  I have to work at it. But I get it. Taking Latin for three years helps. But not all of our crazy English language has its roots in Latin.

The other day I was going over a story with a colleague when the word “bannister” tripped me up. “Is that really how that word is spelled?” I asked him. I thought it was banister. Yup, I was right. “Banister” is the common spelling. “Bannister” is a variant. A variant spelling?

And so many rules. I before e except when sounded like a. And then there are those exceptions. Double the consonant so hop becomes hopping. Swim becomes swimming. And homophones, you know, words that sound alike, but are spelled and have different meanings. Bear and bare. Pear, pair and pare.

Of course, my iPhone thinks it’s a better speller than me. Alas, autocorrect is often auto-wrong. And if I let it, my computer’s spell check can let me down as long as the misspelled word is a real word.

I suspect there are enough bad spellers in the world to form a significant support group. Perhaps they could untie after all.