The Importance of Spelling

An article in today’s Boston Globe covered a renewed interest in spelling; apparently, spelling has become “popular” again. Though many rely on spellcheck functions within word processing programs or e-mail, those can’t catch everything (and they often miss words that are spelled correctly but used in the wrong context – see The Oatmeal’s list of “10 Words You Need to Stop Misspelling”). Correct spelling may not be crucial in instant messages or texts, but it is still important in academic and professional contexts – and according to the Globe article, kids are eager to learn words in order to compete in spelling bees.

One interesting point the article raised was that maybe spelling hasn’t deteriorated; maybe it was always this bad, but it was less public. UC Berkeley professor and linguist Geoffrey Nunberg said, “People never knew how to spell…They kept it a secret unless you saw their shopping lists or Christmas letter. You didn’t see the comments they wrote on other people’s blogs. You didn’t see their own blogs. I think a lot of what is perceived as the decline of spelling is just that we see a lot more spelling by a much wider range of people than we used to.’’

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