Remember that old bumper sticker “If you can read this, you are too close”
These day it might read, “if u cn rd this, u mite IM 2 much.”
I was commiserating with a friend the other day. She was upset because her 12-year-old daughter had sent her a text at the end of an after-school activity; it read: where r u? y r u l8?
Then on Sunday I opened the Parade magazine insert and saw this (credit to Dave Coverly and Parade), a testament to how far IM/text shorthand has gone:
Aside from text/IM shorthand, we see a lot of plain and simple misspellings in lengthier (not text-abbreviated words). Dave Rosenthal wrote about this in his Read Street piece, Is spelling ded?
Is this a case of cause and effect? Is it laziness? Some of our common misspellings stem from a (mis-guided?) attempt by marketers to be clever or alliterative. Would Krispy Kreme taste any less decadent if it were spelled Crispy Cream? Would Kwik Kopy not reproduce at such a speed if it were Quick Copy? What about children’s products – would the “bikes and trains and video games” be less appealing if Toys R Us (sorry, I can’t make the R backwards!) were Toys We Are or even We Are Toys. OK, the toy store may be an extreme example, but I’ve made my point.
When our older daughter was in fourth grade (she’s now in seventh), J and I had a parent-teacher conference as part of the routine progress report. LW12 has always enjoyed writing, and we’ve seen she has a way with words. Her teachers have seen this, too, and always return glowing reports on her work. J and I were a bit concerned because, although her thoughts and writing construct were excellent, her essays inevitably contained spelling errors that went unchecked. When we asked the teacher about this, he told us that “those aren’t fourth-grade words.” In other words, they weren’t being tested on them, so they wouldn’t be corrected in class work. After some discussion, the teacher did agree to mark any words that were misspelled, but not mark down the grade due to spelling errors that were “not fourth grade words.” Truly, she had been insisting that those words were spelled correctly, because they were never marked wrong!
OK, I’m stepping down from my high horse now. I know I’m guilty of habitually substituting “thru” for “through.” There are probably other intentional misspellings/shortenings I’ve adopted; I’m not immune, I’m just wondering why we do this … and why it bothers me!
I’ll leave you with some silly lyrics I penned. I had considered titling this post To the tune of “Every Sperm is Sacred” (that’s Monty Python, for anyone who thinks I’ve lost my mind!), but thot thought I might get 2 too many spam hits:
Every letter is needed
Proper spelling is right
If a letter is wasted
Dawn gets quite uptight
Clearly I did not miss my calling as a songwriter!
Sound off … am I expecting too much? Is it my age? Am I simply a control freak?