History’s/ies Greatest Bad Spellers
When I was in elementary school I was held back. I can’t remember what exactly took place in class to cause my teacher to suggest I wasn’t ready for a third grade education but I remember there was a spelling test, and on that test I had spelled “dog” with two g’s. I’m still convinced I was making a Snoop reference, but whatever. The next day my parents sat me down and explained that I would be repeating the second grade. They softened the blow by reminding me that I would be in the same class as my younger, smarter sister. This was the beginning of my life in the bad spellers group. I spent the rest of my school days a year older than my classmates and repeating the second grade did nothing to improve my spelling skills. I constantly misspell even the most elementary words of the English language. Common contractions like there’re and they’re mix me up. I have to visually imagine the “They” and “Are” and how I remove one letter, a space and then smash them together with an apostrophe as an accessory.
I grew up with every resource my mom could get her hands on to improve my comprehension skills. Leap Frog, Hooked on Phonics and various computer programs gared towards getting your child ready for whatever the next grade level was. But nothing stuck. As I got older it became obvious that my intelligence and my spelling and grammatical faux pas (not making this up I just googled faux pa) were not one in the same.
I am not alone in this. Many struggle with spelling though they’ve long surpassed their days in grade school. A director of marketing at a company could be notorious for her emails containing countless errors. An environmental lawyer who graduated with honors can struggle daily with whether or not “sentence” has an “a” in it. A well known poetic genius who has cemented themselves as one of the greatest voices of 20th century literature could spell “feel”, feal. Spelling and grammar, though important, are not a direct result of one’s IQ. You can be an avid reader who consumes a book a day and still misspell your friend’s names constantly. To prove my point here are just a few creative geniuses who like me can’t get a handle on the whole I before E except after C thing.
Agatha Cristie, best selling crime novelist and playwright has said herself that growing up she was considered the “slow one” in the family. She struggled with spelling well into adulthood and still managed to become the World’s Best Selling Mystery Writer of All Time and is hailed as the Queen of Crime.
The original Renaissance man, Leonardo Da Vinci blew people away with his incredible inventions and excelled in both the arts and sciences. Yet if you look at his journals you’ll find even the most simple of words and phrases almost incomprehensible. Though it can’t be proven, there is a theory that painter and inventor was dyslexic.
American author and academy award winner for best-adapted screenplay for his novel The Cedar House Rules, John Irving was a terrible speller. Diagnosed with dyslexia later in life Irving spent his formative years being labeled as “lazy” and “Stupid” when in reality his brain just worked differently.
Everyone needs an editor. Especially F. Scott Fitzgerald. The renowned author and voice of the roaring twenties struggled to properly write his dear friends Ernest Hemingway’s last name. His poor spelling however didn’t stall Fitzgerald from becoming one of the greatest writers of the 19th century.
Hemingway himself was known to make mistake after mistake. So much so that his own editors would express their frustrations, begging him to “try harder” when writing. Ernest, darling, would simply reply, “that’s what you’re getting paid to do.”
Bad spellers are more common than you think and most often are creative, right-brained individuals. They are writers, artist, creators, inventors and makers. It’s not an act of laziness or immaturity. It’s just that their brain works differently and that is perfectly fine. When I was a kid and my family started calling me by a nickname that I chose to spell C-A-I-T-Y, because that is what made sense in my brain. What didn’t make sense – replacing the first letter of my name and going by Katy or Katie or even, adding an “ie” and going by Caitie. No, I got rid of the lin and added a Y. Caity.
If you are a bad speller, take solace in the fact that you are in good company. Many a great man or woman spell Ridiculous with an E. Stop by any of our six Bookmans locals to brush up on your reading of chronic bad spellers today.
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