Austin, Faulkner, Keats and me


I write every day (just about). And yet, after having keys under my fingers all this time there are still certain words I either constantly misspell or cannot remember how to spell.

I thought of this just now as I was typing “privileged” while revising Welsey Shaw.  That’s one I always get wrong. I always stick a “d” in there next to the “g.”

I always want to add another “l” to align. Allign. It just looks better to me. I always have to remind myself that it’s not correct. (For some odd reason, all through junior high I thought “suddenly” had a silent t: suddently. I still remember my friend Scott laughing about that when my seventh grade English teacher corrected one of my tests. (I did a lot of things that made Scott laugh.)

I always add a “t” to Duchess: Dutchess. Doesn’t it look funny to you the other way?

For the life of me I can never remember if I want to say “compliment” or”complement.” I’m finally getting the difference in my head. Don’t know what’s causing all the resistance.

Ah, resistance! I’d just typed “resistence,” and was greeted by a swirly red line underneath that means MISSPELLED. At least I heed them. I see so many blogs and postings and websites chock full of misspellings. Don’t the people creating them see all the red in their text before they hit “Post”?

“Disastrous” spelled disasterous is disastrous.

I always think a “platform” should be a “platforum.” After all, a platform can sort of be a forum.

I habitually leave out the “e” in “subtleties.”

Until about five years ago, I wrote “firey,” not “fiery.” After all, firey is far more logical—it comes from the word “fire.”

Enough about me. Now allow me to take a moment to complain about online spell-checkers. They are really terrible, often not recognizing perfectly legitimate words or telling you you have mistakes when yo don’t, while allowing actual, obvious mistakes to slip through. And any word that’s a hint foreign—de rigueur or enfante terrible—fuggetaboutit! So caveat emptor—and yes, that one tripped it up too.

These integrated online spell-checkers are particularly bad—ironically—with Internet terms. For the longest while they didn’t recognize email. Or e-mail. Now they’re okay with that, but there are many other common tech terms that tech devices will tell you are misspellings.Is the gray matter all filled up? Or have automated spellers made us soft, the way calculators mean almost no one can do long division with pencil and paper anymore, and that probably includes me, though I admit I’m too scared to give it a try. But then again, most people can’t start a fire with two sticks these days either, and I don’t know how to shoot and dress a deer, though I love to eat them. See what civilization has done to us? We’re soft, and not just in the head.

And my computer has just informed me, as I continue to revise Welsey Shaw, that  I can’t spell alligator. I won’t even tell you how I tried to spell it. I also won’t tell you what an alligator is doing in Entertaining Welsey Shaw.

I take heart, though. Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Faulkner, Austin, Keats and Yeats, among others, were said to be terrible spellers, far worse than me. I guess that’s why God created dictionaries. At any rate, the myth that good spellers are avid readers apparently isn’t true.

What about you? What words flummox you? Is flummox one of them? Does a flummox give you a funny feeling in your stommox?


5 responses

  1. An alligator is in WS?? I can’t wait to see how that one works its way in. I am notorious with misspelling certain words, too. Like “misspelling.” The auto correct fixed it for me. I also always, I mean always, misspell “consecutive.” I keep wanting to put a “q” in it. The list goes on and on. But despite its limitations, I find myself grateful for spell checks.


    December 6, 2013 at 6:47 am

  2. Why isn’t it “exstatic” or “exstasy” – gloriously flummoxed!


    December 6, 2013 at 8:35 am

  3. Maria D'Arcangelo Poole

    Hey you…thought of you this AM, saw this and privileged (which I typed incorrectly and had a red line under it…) to know that we struggle over the same word. Hope you are well. Hugs, M.


    December 7, 2013 at 6:50 am

  4. Maureen Owen

    Never was a good speller. They say that proves you’re not a reader but that’s not true. I read plenty. But I always had a head for math more than words. The way you do math doesn’t change over cultures, the way the spellings and usages of words does. That’s why I like math better.


    December 7, 2013 at 10:59 am

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