How Do You Spell It?
No One’s Really Sure—Kadaffi, Qadaffi, Gadaffi?
BY JILL KALAS
How about a zero tolerance policy on spelling mistakes? Words should be spelled correcktly, everyone understands that, except maybe all the yungsters out there texting with their thumbnails, or even those sending emails and chats from their chat rooms, all that LOL, OMG and Cuz stuff that cheepens the language. It’s easier now with spell checks and all, but spellchecks have their limitations. One problem is spelling a word wrong that turns out be another word spelled correctly. Imagine the following somewhat flawed transcript from a cell phone conversation: I reed you loud and clear—I can here you very well, reel clear, and I’ll be their Tuesday knight...in the meantime stay the coarse. Either that or I’ll contact you by male.
Such a letter might begin: Deer, John (or John Deere).
Also, words often come up that spell checks don’t recognize, so the remedy is to go online and see how words are spelled on the internet. Trouble is, you get all the wrong spellings along with the correct ones, and then must decide which is which, and sometimes it’s not a question of right or wrong, of the correctness of a particular spelling, but that nobody can agree on how a word is spelled in the first place. Is it linguine or linguini? Nobody seems to know, certainly not Italian restaurants. And then what about Hanukkah—or is it Chanukah? (Ask your rabbi). And what the heck is Chautauqua? You’ve also got all those foreign place names—which brings to mind, why do they call it Peking Duck when it’s Beijing now, or is it Peiching. or rather Pieping—can’t they make up their minds? Then what about Mumbai—what was wrong with Bombay? Or Calcutta, now Kolkata? Never got a chance to visit, and they’ve already changed the name. A nightmare if you travel with an old map.
English often spells the same sound in several different ways, that’s another problem. The double E sound (ee), for example, can be spelled (or spelt—but that’s also a grain): seem or seam, team or teem, and then serene, marine, protein, along with words like she, ski, debris, and key, not to mention all the second language peeple, or rather people, along with you and me, who have to remember which spelling is proper. Maddening.
English also spells other sounds differently in various words. Consider the SH sound, as in shoe, but then we have the same sound in auction, profession, vacation, and delicious. How about we start a trend, right now, and start spelling it delishous, and see if catches on?
Doing so, though, you might not succeed, or exceed expectations, and that’s a problem, because if you have to spell those words it makes you spell other words wrong, like precede (not preceed ), and the same goes for supersede.
With thumbs and all, chances are mistakes are getting typed that cause confusion. Someone could be texting instructions regarding the proper thing to wear, and it could come down to the difference between attire and a tire—are you drawing the mental image? If told to wear a tire, opt for the whitewalls, very classy, like basic black with pearls.
And BTW (figure it out), if you think this texting and spelling thing isn’t a problem, get a load of this entry from the U.S. Patent Office labeled Error Correction of Short Text Messages for a software product that provides a fix for those who are all thumbs while typing:
A method for correcting a short text message comprising steps for: creating a table of common words and misspellings; identifying keypad used for sending the message, examining message for comprehensi-bility; identifying most likely error, substituting symbols based on a hierarchical system of shared keys followed by adjacent keys to hypoth-esize correction of most likely error; examining hypothesized correction for comprehensibility, and repeating steps until an understandable message is generated. Comprehensibility? —You gotta be kidding.
When it comes to spelling issues, the all time whopper is the name of the soon-to-be ex dictator Muamar Kadaffi—I mean Moammar Gadhafi, or rather Moammar al-Qadaffi, or is it Mummar al-Kadaffi? Or, in the hood, just Mo Daffy (after quitting the dictator thing, disgrace to the human race that he is, and becoming a Hip Hop artist, a similar disgrace—and so he later changes his name to I Be Daffy, and subsequently I Be Mo Daffy).
Further spellings of the dicta-tor’s name include: Salt Water Taffy, Ricki Tiki Tavi, Moe Larry Curly, Daffy Duck, and Won’t Somebody Please Off This Guy.