Flowers for Algernon

I used to be great at spelling.  Not because I know the spelling rules (we all know how helpful those are with Exceptlish.  I mean English.)  It just sort of happened because I’m visual and I read a lot.  I would sit in class at school and think, “Can’t they just look at that word and see that it’s wrong?  Doesn’t it look wrong?”

Ten years into living in Europe, my visual cues from seeing English written all over the place are scarce.  And reading in my free time?  Uh, that died when my brain fried from (the attempt at) learning Czech.

Czech is a one hundred percent phonetic language (its one, shining, easy point) so everything is spelled exactly how it is said.  None of this “G says guh or juh” stuff.  (I really could do a better job explaining this considering I was a linguistics major.  Did I mention about the fried brain?)  Now it’s as if my mind, at seeing how beautifully simple spelling could be, simply stopped acknowledging any other system.

It is appalling to see how low my spelling skills have sagged.  Even typing with spell check and auto correct, I am often so far off that I have to google the word.  “Did you mean ketchup?”  (Google is so condescending.  But yes, thank you.  I did mean ketchup.)  I took 10 minutes out of my day on Tuesday to try to text message the word “tentatively” to my friend.  Normally I would have given up and used a synonym, but there was a complicated word play – my favorite thing – dependent (not dependant) on that word.

If I had always been a terrible speller, I might not mind so much.  But spelling has always seemed to me the mark of a learned (wo)man.  And I suddenly find that mark high, high above my level.  Imajin my shagrin.


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