Saturday, March 19, 2011
You know what I find funny about being a writer? When those around me, for some inexplicable reason, expect me to be this master speller or grammar Nazi. I mean, seriously? I laugh at this because--dudes, you really don't know writers! We're lazy. And some of us, even, barely literate!
Okay, okay . . . that last one is a bit of a stretch. But what I mean to say is, writers are the same cross-selection of society as any other lump grouping of people with similar interests. Some among us are good spellers, sure. Exceptional spellers, perhaps. But sadly most are not. Luckily for me, writers don't necessarily sell work because they're God's gift to the English language, but because they know how to spin an entertaining yarn that readers enjoy reading. Spelling mistakes and "grammos" come with the territory because--hey--we're only human, too. Not robots.
That all being said, I do consider myself a decent speller. More importantly, I'm fairly well-versed in that there reading thing. Reading's been my constant companion since before I had real life flesh-n-blood friends to call my own. And yet--gasp!--I'm actually human, so I've made plenty of errors in my writing over these many years. More than a highly literate person should make, perhaps.
Big whoop, I say. That's what proofreading is for. And good copy editors!
But, you know, it got me thinking about certain pesky words which I can never seem to spell correctly. And it's a fairly substantial list, I might add. But over the years I've been able to whittle it down some by employing certain mnemonic tricks.
For instance, I used to never get the word "government" correct. I would always forget the "n" in the middle there, see? Until one day I decided to break the word down into two parts: "govern" and "ment". I knew the word "govern" was a real word in its own right, so from this point on it was easy to think of that word when attempting to spell the other. Ever since, whenever I type "government" I find myself putting more emphasis on the second syllable in my head and remembering the word "govern". Hey, I just did it now!
Another trick, although juvenile (but hey, that's why it works!), is the one I employ to spell "assassin" which, as you can see, has a disturbing amout of "s" letters in there. The trick for this, again, involves breaking the word down into its component parts: "ass" "ass" "in". So, if you're still with me: that's two "asses," and one "in". Hey, the second coming of Oscar Wilde I am not. What can I say?
Anyway, all that being said, I still have a list of words which--try as I might--I cannot seem to ever get right. Here are a few of them:
Rhythm. Oiy! This one is a constant thorn in my side. I have no idea how other people can spell this one correctly. And what's funny is, the harder I concentrate to get it right without resorting to a dictionary or a spell check program, the worse the result becomes. Personally I think it's due to the disturbing lack of vowels in this word. And I'm one of those people that consider the letter "y" to be an impostor vowel, too! So, if I stare at this word for too long, it starts to look like Russian to me. I hate this word.
Possess. Once again, the letter "s" is the culprit here. I always misspell this by using only one s in the middle and two at the end. Don't you just hate that?
Conscious. The "s" before the "c" -- it gets me every. single. time! I spell the word "concious," and then spend the next minute trying to determine if that looks right or not. Why? I have no friggin clue!
Necessary. This one is bizarre because instead of unintentionally taking away an extra letter in the middle of a word, I erroneously add one instead. "Neccessary" is how I usually spell this, and then have to sit there and wonder what I did wrong when the dreaded red squiggly line of doom shows up in Word.
Banana. Again, I'm usually guilty of adding an additional letter where none is required. This time, it's the letter "n" in the middle of this particular word, so that it looks like "bannana". Go ahead, laugh you bums. But it's not funny!
Posse. I swear, how this word does not have an extra "e" at the end is beyond me. When I say it aloud, I just need that additional "e" there. It's like a deep seeded want that, despite my best efforts, is never correct. What, does "possee" just look wrong to the spelling authority people? Whenever I see the correct spelling, I have the tendency to sound it out as only one syllable -- like "poss" with a silent "e". I need that extra letter there at the end to convey a bi-syllabic pronunciation, I suppose. Do I need help, or does anyone else have this problem?
Judgment. Okay, again, where the hell did that "e" go? Doesn't this word look ridiculous without that "e" to other people besides me? I keep getting this wrong because whenever I use the same trick I use with "government", as demonstrated earlier, things go horribly wrong. So let me get this straight: The root of this word is "judge," but yet "judgement" is the incorrect spelling? Says who? What the hell, English language, can't you get your rules straight? Although, I'm sure the rule must be that exceptions are made for words ending in vowels. Or something like that. You can't apply the -ment suffix to a word ending in a vowel, is that it? I wouldn't know since I have zero retention of my phonics lessons from back in the 2nd grade. Stupid English! *grumble, grumble*
Desert. This one isn't so much about misspelling (although I'm sure that's partly my problem), but about incorrect word choice. Whenever I mean to use "desert" I use "dessert" instead, and vice-versa. I never seem to remember which is which. The only trick I can employ to know when to use which, is that the one with the double "s" is more tasty than the other, thereby deserving of the extra consonant. And yet, I still get this wrong more often than not. Grrrr!
Success. Yet again, I'm at a loss with this one. Okay, so let me get this straight: "necessary" only has one "c", but "success" has two? Bwah? How the hell am I supposed to remember these rules? Seems rather arbitrary if you ask me. Although I can usually get this one right by using the break-down rule into its constituent syllables: suc-cess. Hmmm, it "sucks" first, before . . . er . . . "cess"-ing? Hmm, okay, maybe I need to rethink this approach. But, anyway, again I say -- WTF, English language? Why are you trying to kill my brain?
Well, I think that's enough for now. I know there are a few more words that need to go on this list, but right now I seem to be drawing a blank.
How about you guys? Any words that, despite you knowing better, you simply can never seem to spell right? I'm not expecting you to have the same ones as on my list -- we each have are own issues, after all. Some words I can't figure out are probably like, pfft!, so EASY for some of you. But then, perhaps some of the ones you get stymied on are like cake to me. Such is life.
So please do let me know in the comments section below. I would love to read some other examples out there, if at the very least so that I don't feel so special. And by "special," I think you all know what I mean.