1. Education
Richard Nordquist

Advice for Poor Spellers

By January 7, 2013

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If you've grown tired of hearing that you need to improve your spelling skills, consider these options.

#1 Boost your self-esteem and baffle your acquaintances by telling them you're a professional cacographer. (You don't need to tell them that cacography is an archaic term for poor spelling.)

#2 Blame the English language. Compared to German, for instance, English spelling is unquestionably haphazard, eccentric, and sometimes downright perverse. Need an example? In English, cough, rough, plough, though, and through don't rhyme. (See Charles Loomis's pronunciation poem, "O-U-G-H: A Fresh Hack at an Old Knot.")

#3 Remind your friends and teachers that not all great writers have been great spellers, and then as evidence point them to Shakespeare's Sonnet 138 in its original form:

When my love sweares that she is made of truth,
I do beleeve her, though I know she lyes,
That she might thinke me some untuterd youth,
Unlearned in the worlds false subtilties. . . .
(But be careful: some smart aleck might remind you that Shakespeare wrote in an era before English spelling had been standardized. In fact, Will died 40 years before the publication of the first comprehensive English dictionary: Thomas Blount's Glossographia.)

#4 Work on improving your spelling skills. Seriously, spelling matters. Here are a few articles and exercises to help you get started:

Remember: you don't have to be a cacographer forever.


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