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How well can you spell?
May 30, 2014 9:49 PM   Subscribe

How well can you spell? is a spelling challenge from the Washington Post. Just click on the misspelled words.

Harder than it sounds!
posted by zardoz (112 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Poorley.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:56 PM on May 30 [6 favorites]


In other news the Washington Post has announced that it is crowdsourcing its copy editing department and laying off staff....
posted by miyabo at 9:57 PM on May 30 [36 favorites]


In other news the Washington Post has announced that it is crowdsourcing its copy editing department and laying off staff....

Well, we already know that WaPo is bad at words.
posted by phunniemee at 10:03 PM on May 30


90%. Not bad for bleary eyes.
posted by donajo at 10:04 PM on May 30 [2 favorites]


41-2-1 ... I'm actually a terrible speller, but this is kind of an easy quiz because you only have to ID the wrong ones, not correct them. I worked as a copy editor and I had a relatively long list of my bad, unspellable word taped to my monitor - restaurant, maintenance, embarrassed, surprise. Can't spell them, but know to look them up.

Surprise shouldn't be that hard, but it is for me. I want to spell it SUprise.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:04 PM on May 30 [1 favorite]


98%! Spelling is my superpower.

LAMEST SUPERPOWER EVAR
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 10:04 PM on May 30 [8 favorites]


95%. I guess, as an editor, I am in the write perfession.
posted by scody at 10:07 PM on May 30 [18 favorites]


Too bad they have Canadian/British spellings in there as "incorrect"
posted by Sintram at 10:10 PM on May 30 [52 favorites]


I noticed that when considering each word, a soundtrack of its spelling auto-played in my head. I couldn't tell if words were spelled correctly just by glancing at them.
posted by mantecol at 10:15 PM on May 30 [1 favorite]


I'm disappointed in myself for only getting 90%. I'm disappointed in this quiz for not using my favorite misspelling ever: sherrif. I don't know why, but I love "sherrif." So cute.
posted by queensissy at 10:16 PM on May 30 [5 favorites]


100%. 5th place, Los Angeles regional spelling bee, 1997.
posted by town of cats at 10:17 PM on May 30 [23 favorites]


Jill finaly found a freind who will be farming for the forseeable future.

"Forsee" is actually a word, so should be "forseeable".

For- is a wonderful, though neglected (forloved?), prefix in English.
posted by Thing at 10:18 PM on May 30 [6 favorites]


Was I just tricked into doing my job over summer break?

You bastards.
posted by bibliowench at 10:22 PM on May 30 [11 favorites]


I object to the G sentence. You say to look for words starting with G, then you can't have a word that's misspelled to not start with a g!
posted by kafziel at 10:25 PM on May 30 [21 favorites]


Also "lollypop" is an accepted if archaic spelling.
posted by kafziel at 10:27 PM on May 30 [24 favorites]


Too bad they have Canadian/British spellings in there as "incorrect"

Well, in the case of humorous, yes. Humourous is bad spelling.
posted by kafziel at 10:30 PM on May 30 [3 favorites]


98% 41-1-3

I felt some were British and/or older but not exactly incorrect, but I figured they were looking for modern American English.

I still can't spell ocassion. Occassion. Occasion. I am the person people ask how to spell stuff, but for some reason that word trips me up All The Time.
posted by sio42 at 10:32 PM on May 30 [3 favorites]


38 id'ed, 4 missed, 1 guessed wrong, 90%

I also TOTALLY OBJECT to being instructed to mark the incorrectly spelled words starting with G and then being penalized for not marking the incorrectly spelled word starting with J.
posted by jaguar at 10:32 PM on May 30 [9 favorites]


I agree with the previously expressed frustrations regarding the word that did not start with G. My wife says I am an idiot though.
posted by Sternmeyer at 10:38 PM on May 30 [1 favorite]


98% 43-1-1

Then again, anything to do with English/writing/spelling/reading comprehension/languages, etc., that was my jam in school, and I always did extremely well in those sort of classes.

Typing? FLUNKED TWICE! I always review anything I type, and thank goodness for computers and spellcheck. I transpose letters all the time while typing because my right hand is faster at getting their side of the keyboard letters out before the left. I end up typing "agian" and "becuase" a lot. Squiggly red underlines have become my friends, is what I'm saying. Or should it be "firend"?
posted by droplet at 10:48 PM on May 30 [2 favorites]


33:9:4, 79%.

I'll still feel smart when I spot the mistakes of others, and red-faced when I miss my own.

My nephew has been told in school that spelling isn't important, the checker will catch his mistakes. Sigh...
posted by Marky at 11:00 PM on May 30 [1 favorite]


98%. And I realized the one I missed a millisecond after I clicked the button.

I found it was easier to just glance at the sentence to find the mistakes. When I really studied the words, I lost confidence and second guessed myself.
posted by bink at 11:06 PM on May 30 [5 favorites]


How did they get those sentences by auto-correct is what I want to know.
posted by Anitanola at 11:18 PM on May 30


40-2-0 95%

Both words I missed were words I knew how to spell, but overlooked.
posted by flippant at 11:18 PM on May 30 [1 favorite]


79 percent, but like someone said I saw a couple of others just as I clicked (and I just drank a beer, through that may have actually raised my score).
posted by Dip Flash at 11:45 PM on May 30


I think doing all those captchas has ruined me.
posted by Obscure Reference at 11:54 PM on May 30 [1 favorite]


You found 3 out of 3 misspelled words.

Wrong spelling Right spelling
harrassment → harassment
happend → happened
humourous → humorous


Notice the last one, all you POMs.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:13 AM on May 31 [2 favorites]


Calender is a word, dammit. Not a misspelled calendar.
posted by hat_eater at 12:50 AM on May 31 [5 favorites]


95%, all the mistakes in the form of clicking words that weren't actually misspelled as opposed to missing ones that were, and all in the last third or so of the test, because after doing this for a few minutes every word started to look funny to me. I'd be a terrible grader.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:56 AM on May 31 [2 favorites]


But this is not a spelling test, this is an adversarial (in the game-theory sense) proofreading test, not shown to correlate with real-life contexts, so leave it to a paper Washington Post to design a provocative but theoretically lazy scientifically unfounded exercise gahhhh
posted by polymodus at 1:42 AM on May 31 [6 favorites]


Whacky isn't spelt with an 'h'?

(76% here.)
posted by aroweofshale at 2:05 AM on May 31 [4 favorites]


I missed three, but my excuse is that I'm doing it on my tiny phone screen without my (increasingly necessary, damn it) reading glasses. All the ones I missed were by the difference of a skinny little lowercase I. Bleah.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 2:16 AM on May 31


I am certes anent fain oh who the fuck are we kidding, try as you might to spell words properly smart phones arent and a huge amount of textual communication takes place via your little screen. autocorrect, tiny screens, and a need to say it right now dooms ye olde prescriptive spelings as surely as the apstrophe - useful only for geek score. Good riddance.
posted by vapidave at 2:27 AM on May 31


Whoo! I'm the worst speller here! 32 / 10 / 4. 76% (Okay, equal worst). I'd like to thank dyslexia, which I have used throughout my life as an excuse for my laziness and carelessness.
posted by YAMWAK at 2:29 AM on May 31 [1 favorite]


I got the jist in the G sentence and was so excited by the thought that I'd gone and beat the game at its own game that I completely overlooked goverment.

Those cancel each other out, right?
posted by Spatch at 2:36 AM on May 31 [3 favorites]


I also TOTALLY OBJECT to being instructed to mark the incorrectly spelled words starting with G and then being penalized for not marking the incorrectly spelled word starting with J

Surely you gest.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:06 AM on May 31 [7 favorites]


76%, pre coffee. May try again when fully caffeinated.
posted by bookrach at 3:16 AM on May 31


90%. For three of those five errors, I cringed between clicking the "done" button and seeing the results because I knew which ones I'd gotten wrong before the site told me. Which isn't really worth bragging rights I guess.
posted by ardgedee at 3:21 AM on May 31


93% (39/3/1). Most annoyed by lollypop.
posted by graymouser at 3:51 AM on May 31 [3 favorites]


Forseeable.
posted by Gyan at 4:17 AM on May 31


The hard thing I'm having is that I'm missing words I even know 100% how to spell, because as a speedreader, my mind fills in the blanks of what I know is there.
posted by corb at 5:01 AM on May 31 [2 favorites]


[T]ry as you might to spell words properly smart phones arent and a huge amount of textual communication takes place via your little screen. autocorrect, tiny screens, and a need to say it right now dooms ye olde prescriptive spelings as surely as the apstrophe - useful only for geek score.

Well, no, it means that orthography is less important in certain contexts. The idea that one day no one will care if your cover letter or your college paper is rife with misspellings is probably still a distant dream. It's possible that will happen, but if and when it does it is unlikely that it will be the result of texting, in the same way that the telegraph did not cause the period to be replaced by the word "STOP" and the emoticon has not become standard punctuation in most writing contexts beyond short-term electronic communication.

At present, I see little pressure to abandon or loosen orthographic expectations in "slow" writing contexts; that pressure applies almost entirely to "fast" writing in particular media. For one thing, "dictionary" spelling still quite useful to some people to maintain barriers to privilege; for another, rightly or wrongly, it's still seen as reflective of the care and effort the writer puts into "slow" written work.

My sense is that, at present, we have a split between usage in some professional and academic contexts and usage in a comparatively new context of electronic communication, the latter of which values instantaneous and spontaneous language use and whose customs are shaped partly by things such as character limits and the limits of text entry in general in most messaging programs. Where the act of writing occurs differently, both in the immediate physical act and in its temporal register, we should expect different usage patterns.
posted by kewb at 5:21 AM on May 31 [3 favorites]


95% (41/2/1)

(English is not my first language.)
posted by needled at 5:25 AM on May 31 [2 favorites]


93% and still smarting from a poor performance in the Clark County, NV Spelling Bee in 1998.
posted by naoko at 5:26 AM on May 31


Don't push yor prescriptivist spellyngs ahn mee!
posted by blue_beetle at 5:30 AM on May 31 [1 favorite]


Whacky isn't spelt with an 'h'?

Nope, neither is wimp.
posted by psoas at 5:31 AM on May 31 [1 favorite]


> Whacky isn't spelt with an 'h'?

No, it never has been, and this is one of those nigh-standard misspellings that I never understood.

As if somebody thought, "I want to convey exactly how extremely wacky this guy is, but 'wacky' just doesn't seem... formal enough."
posted by ardgedee at 5:36 AM on May 31 [5 favorites]


English is gruesome, but what else do you expect from a language that mugs other languages in dark alleys and rifles their pockets for spare words? (this is, of course, my justification for scoring so poorly, and I'm sticking with it.)
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 5:56 AM on May 31 [3 favorites]


For some reason, I get irrationally angry when I see the spelling "definately," because it's so obviously wrong-looking to me. On the other hand, with letters with multiple doubled letters like "millennium" or "occurrence," I'm like "man, who cares? English is weird." And, of course, those are the ones I never remember. I'm a speling hippocrit.
posted by Metroid Baby at 5:58 AM on May 31 [2 favorites]


100%. Forced to quit spelling bees in 7th grade "so other kids could have a chance". (I won every Springfield-Eugene and Lane County spelling bee from 1st to 6th grade, and was a year ahead of my class in reading. WHAT. Parfois je fais des fautes en français, alors ça va, okay ?)
posted by fraula at 6:02 AM on May 31 [6 favorites]


I mist jissed.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:04 AM on May 31 [1 favorite]


100%, but I have worked as a copy editor for a freelance writer.
posted by bad grammar at 6:06 AM on May 31


I came in 4th place in an elementary school spelling bee... my misspelling was "guitaur".

I didn't feel bad about it until the teacher who escorted the students back off the stage once the student was no longer in the running put their arms around me and said quietly "it's ok, don't feel bad, you did great, don't be upset"...and I wasn't upset at all and then I got confused and thought maybe something horrible had just happened and I did something bad but get I thought I had done pretty good because there were only 3 kids left. I realized she was probably saying this to every kid but I was too confused to say anything.

Then afterwards I apparently didn't understand that 4th place isn't a thing and kept going up for pictures with the winners and being all happy for being 4th place. I remember one girl who won telling me 4th place doesn't exist. I said of course it does, I came in 4th. She then had this amazing look of disgust for me, as if I was ruining her win.

And I didn't care. I came in 4th! How cool is that!

/end spelling bee story
posted by sio42 at 6:12 AM on May 31 [11 favorites]


Whenever I see a word mistakenly spelled with "wh" instead of "w," I mentally overpronounce the "wh" sound. Hhhhhwwwacky.
posted by Metroid Baby at 6:14 AM on May 31 [1 favorite]


100-fucking-percent. My dream job is proof reading all my favorite authors' soon-to-released books. Pie in the sky.
posted by cooker girl at 6:24 AM on May 31 [2 favorites]


Whenever I see a word mistakenly spelled with "wh" instead of "w," I mentally overpronounce the "wh" sound. Hhhhhwwwacky.

Over the years, I have noticed certain power users around these parts consistently misspelling were (past tense of to be) as where. It drives me absolutely bonkers. If they had Scottish accents or something where they were pronouncing those words the same, I'd probably let it go, but I don't think they do or have or are.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:33 AM on May 31


100%

I have a visceral reaction to misspellings so that was a painful few minutes though!
posted by mukade at 6:34 AM on May 31


I failed to recognize 'jist' as a 'misspelled word beginning with the letter g'
I guess you can parse it that way.
posted by MtDewd at 6:35 AM on May 31


How did 56,348 people think "the" was misspelled in the first sentence?
posted by jeudi at 6:35 AM on May 31 [5 favorites]


The Venn diagram of people who are good at spelling and the people who think spelling is important is a perfect circle.
posted by Reyturner at 6:35 AM on May 31 [5 favorites]


Whacky isn't spelt with an 'h'?

Only if it's an adjective for Lizzie Borden.
posted by bibliowench at 6:40 AM on May 31 [12 favorites]


I wonder if some of the misspellings (or the inability to detect misspellings) come from English being primarily a spoken language for native English speakers. So then you spell things the way you think they sound, or use the spelling of similar-sounding words.

English was primarily a written language for me until adulthood. In my head I have images of the written words, and if something I see does not match that then it's a misspelling. Incidentally, this also makes it almost impossible for me to get puns - somebody usually has to explain them to me.
posted by needled at 6:47 AM on May 31


/end spelling bee story

Growing up in Canada, I had no spelling bees, but I do recall that in the ninth grade there was a citywide spelling championship. All the students in that grade had a spelling test, and the top 10% or something from every school got shipped off to the auditorium in a central school for an afternoon-long contest in which one thousand tricky words were read aloud and the students had to write each one out. The papers were then handed in and someone had the thankless job of checking them all.

One of my friends was easily the brightest guy I had ever met -- Steven went through five years of high school in four years, did his first university degree in two and a half years, became a lawyer in his early twenties, was a professor at a prestigious law school by his late twenties, and now has more letters after his name than in it. This is a guy who sat in front of me in Grade 10 Latin and got marks of 100%, 100% and 99% over three semesters. Anyway, he naturally wound up in this contest and was cheesed because he came in second in the entire city, with 998 words correct. Gloriously, he came in behind me, with 999 correct ("subpoena" was the one I missed, if you were wondering... I think at 13, I had never encountered the word before). And oddly, my prize was an atlas. I think a dictionary would have been more thematically satisfying, but perhaps the organizers reasoned that the winner clearly would not need one.

Anyway, 100% here, despite some moments of chin-pulling doubt over a few rich in double letters (words like "committee" and ""accommodation" are often my bane).
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:48 AM on May 31 [1 favorite]


I used to be such a good speller as a child (the pinnacle of my spelling bee achievement was 4th place in California state, I got to stay in a hotel with a pool in Sacramento and I got a little trophy with a golden bee on it and everything) and now I'm just like a normal mortal who has trouble remembering how many m's to put in accommodate. It's kind of depressing. Does everyone get dumber as they age or is this proof that I ate too much Ramen and watched too much TV?
posted by gerstle at 6:55 AM on May 31 [2 favorites]


The Venn diagram of people who are good at spelling and the people who think spelling is important is a perfect circle.


The funny thing is that the most pedantic people when it comes to spelling and grammar are self-appointed experts (and also kinda rubbish at both), and that English profs and other folk we'd generally consider to be the experts know that the modern obsession with "proper" spelling is a mere blip in the history of the language.
posted by sadmarvin at 6:58 AM on May 31 [3 favorites]


"Lollipop" bothers me because I feel like we're being graded against WaPo's style guide, as opposed to spelling standards outside in the larger world where archaic spellings flounce around in their foppish ascots and spats (and, you know, other things). Misspellings that are actually acceptable spellings in English outside the US bother me the same way. You have to think about this stuff if you're editing a newspaper based in DC, but certainly the Post knows, or should know, that its readership online is not limited by geography. I'm not trying to take this too seriously -- it's a fun test -- but its methodology is flawed.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:59 AM on May 31 [3 favorites]


Only if it's an adjective for Lizzie Borden.

And therein lies the problem.
posted by sneebler at 7:03 AM on May 31


The funny thing is that the most pedantic people when it comes to spelling and grammar are self-appointed experts (and also kinda rubbish at both), and that English profs and other folk we'd generally consider to be the experts know that the modern obsession with "proper" spelling is a mere blip in the history of the language.

Pretty much all of this is true, but until some very big changes happen completely, teachers (like myself) will be doing students a considerable disservice if we don't show them how to do the kind sof writing that help prevent job applications being thrown in the trash by self-appointed experts and papers in other peoples' classes marked down by pedants.

It may be a blip, but it's a blip with real consequences for real people. I tell my students that the standards are arbitrary and unfair, but I don't pretend they're nonexistent or unenforced when it comes to the gatekeepers they need to get past. After thuh revalooshun, weel tekst about how yor deeskriptivist yewtoepeea werks.
posted by kewb at 7:11 AM on May 31 [3 favorites]


I was disappointed not to see "woah" [sic] in one of these sentences.
posted by dfan at 7:17 AM on May 31 [2 favorites]


Does everyone get dumber as they age or is this proof that I ate too much Ramen and watched too much TV?

It is not just you. When I read through first drafts of things I have written, I want to return my atlas. Literally elementary-school level errors creep in -- in another window I was just writing a post on another site and when I reread my first draft I saw that I had rendered it proved too hard as it proved to hard. All the famously tricky words like rhythm and supersede are dead easy for me and I grit my teeth when writers confuse discreet and discrete or foreword and forward, and meanwhile my decaying brain is feeding me the wrong monosyllable homophones.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:23 AM on May 31 [3 favorites]


41/1/3
98%
Yay...I guess
posted by rahnefan at 7:28 AM on May 31


I tell my students that the standards are arbitrary and unfair, but I don't pretend they're nonexistent or unenforced when it comes to the gatekeepers they need to get past. After thuh revalooshun, weel tekst about how yor deeskriptivist yewtoepeea werks.

Don't get me wrong—when I mark my students' papers I point out issues with grammar and spelling. I do, however, think that it's important to emphasise above all to them that the "rules" aren't nearly as strict as they seem, and that they should avoid casting judgement on others, especially given that a lot of the "rules" they think they know are wrong by their own internal logic. I mean, when I, someone in the last year of my PhD in English, find myself being "corrected" for saying "When you're done, could you pass that to Erin or me?" because someone has decided that it must always be "Erin or I," it's hard not to believe that any attempt to proactively escape the judgement of the gatekeepers is doomed to failure.
posted by sadmarvin at 7:31 AM on May 31 [1 favorite]


Why should I care about how to spell harassment when my computer can do that for me? Machines should work so that people can think.
posted by Nelson at 7:48 AM on May 31


I was robbed! If you tell me to click on all misspelled words starting with the letter g, don't tell me I'm wrong for not clicking on a word that starts with a j just because if it had been spelled properly it would have started with a g. Poor instructions.
posted by Flunkie at 7:54 AM on May 31 [1 favorite]


93% - 39/3/0

Arbor almost tripped me up. Same for jist. But otherwise I'm pretty happy with the result.
posted by Memo at 7:59 AM on May 31


Whacky isn't spelt with an 'h'?
Sure it is. But "wacky" is not.

Seriously, though, both the OED and MW explicitly list "whacky" as an alternative spelling, so I'd say you should feel free to count yourself as having gotten that one right.
posted by Flunkie at 8:00 AM on May 31 [3 favorites]


I mean, when I, someone in the last year of my PhD in English, find myself being "corrected" for saying "When you're done, could you pass that to Erin or me?" because someone has decided that it must always be "Erin or I," it's hard not to believe that any attempt to proactively escape the judgement of the gatekeepers is doomed to failure.
Huh? Seriously? Who says it should be "Erin or I"? It's an object, not a subject; it should use the objective form.
posted by Flunkie at 8:02 AM on May 31 [1 favorite]


To be clear, I'm not a prescriptivist. But I'm very surprised to hear that there are prescriptivists who prescribe "to Erin and I".
posted by Flunkie at 8:03 AM on May 31 [2 favorites]


88% - some missed through sheer laziness, but one or two seemed borderline or badly constructed.

"Arbor" is correct if arbor is what's intended; no reason to assume it to be "harbour" in a question focusing on "A" words.

And "lollypop" is a variant correct spelling of "lollipop".
posted by raygirvan at 8:04 AM on May 31 [1 favorite]


To be clear, I'm not a prescriptivist. But I'm very surprised to hear that there are prescriptivists who prescribe "to Erin and I".
I read that as sadmarvin saying that many people who consider themselves prescriptivists actually have the rules wrong.
posted by dfan at 8:08 AM on May 31


Ah, I see. That makes sense. Thanks.
posted by Flunkie at 8:09 AM on May 31


Huh? Seriously? Who says it should be "Erin or I"? It's an object, not a subject; it should use the objective form.

Oh, exactly. But you know how it goes—you hear a "rule" and then you repeat it until it ossifies*, shaping your interactions from then on, changing only when someone whose authority you recognise challenges it. I mean, the logic on this one is pretty clear, but it happens nonetheless.


*I initially typed this as "offifies" because apparently my brain decided that this word needed some medial-s action and hey the f key is close enough

On preview: yup, that's what I meant. Normally I'd delete this but I kind of want to keep my offified typo on the record.
posted by sadmarvin at 8:09 AM on May 31


I started this an on the first sentence I knew right away I had no idea if any of the a words were spelled wrong or not, I would have had to look each one up. That's something I used to do but what I found is, I could look up the spelling of a word over and over and it still wouldn't stick. Things like one or two letters here or there accommodation vs acomodation and all the variations... well I only know which is wrong because of the red line that tells me. It all seems very arbitrary and frustrating to me, especially when there are plenty of words like their or there which when speaking sound exactly the same and somehow we all understand each other anyway because of context.

I, of course, try to work on it because I know other people see these details and feel they are important and I like to be considerate of other people's experiences, but I feel like at the societal level, it's already set to be accomodating to people who care about those things (the red line tells me I have erred... )

Certainly I do think having an eye for details in a wonderful skill, but like many wonderful skills, I don't think we should rate people as inferior or superior PEOPLE based on skills development in specific areas like this. Certainly for work hiring skill sets matter, but for acknowledging your fellow humans have value regardless of their math skills, or their knowledge of history, or their skill at sport and physical fitness, or artistic endeavors... etc etc... seems kind of crappy. Especially since I find that skill limitation is often very much real and not the fault of those who have it whether we define them as "disabled" in that area or not. Most people are "disabled" at certain areas of skill sets, and I believe in finding ways to accommodate people's areas of weakness while valuing the strengths of their contributions.

The idea that people have a right to view those who aren't as good as inferior and insult/ostracize them until they conform is an ideology I find pretty harmful, especially when it doesn'tinvolve wanting to understand why some people who are trying more than you realize don't get the same results and shold be expected to put 200% of effort in their life into meeting spelling standards when that would require a huge amount of energy and time investment that would take away from other important aspects of their lives and still likely not appease those who expect high standards of accuracy.

I feel the same about shaming people for their weight and claiming people who are overweight need to be intensive weight management programs and exercising like crazy more than any other person until they make themselves normalized.

Society flourishes with specialization not normalization. Some people are already compensating for difficulties with brain functioning just to get to mediocre or subpar functioning and it's actually taken a lot of work just to get there. And some people are using every shred of energy they have to cope with an unspeakable amount of obstacles in their social and emotional lives, of physical illnesses that make simple tasks difficult. As we're discovering with research, how compromised a persons system may be might not be visible because of how hard they are working to compromise for their deficits. They may already be working 150% more than the average person just to be where they are that they are getting judged as not caring or putting effort in. So the idea that you can judge on outcome how much effort or care a person has put in is simply false. I think having the value that everyone should put some care into it is good, and having technology that helps those of us who are spelling challenged is also good. Some people are coping with such difficult life issues that spelling just isn't even on their radar and nor should it be.
posted by xarnop at 8:11 AM on May 31


I read that as sadmarvin saying that many people who consider themselves prescriptivists actually have the rules wrong.

My only quibble here is that they are prescriptivists, regardless of the fact that they're using rules that the authority they turn to wouldn't recognise. But yes.
posted by sadmarvin at 8:12 AM on May 31


I did the test before I came in here to read the comments (98%, 41-1-1, pre-coffee) and I really thought everyone would be talking about how easy it was. I feel like a jerk for saying this, but I'm surprised anyone found it difficult. Mefites tend to read and write quite a bit. I wonder about the average score of the general population.

Anyway, seventh grade county-wide spelling bee, I lost on "kinetic" because my brain went to "Connecticut" and "C" came out of my mouth before I realized in horror what I'd done. But it was too late, and I'll have to live with the shame forever.
posted by desjardins at 8:23 AM on May 31 [1 favorite]


I forgot to add - I've known many brilliant people who couldn't spell at all, so a high/low score isn't indicative of anything really, except maybe the person pays more/less attention to detail.
posted by desjardins at 8:24 AM on May 31 [1 favorite]


Well I also got 50% on that reading speed test people were getting like 4000%, and could only get two out of three questions, so I imagine I could be an outlier. Participating here actually is pretty hard for me. I do have learning disabilities, but I test well and have a pretty high IQ so I had a hard time getting diagnosed in highschool, I had auditory processing problems on the test but the conclusions of my testing said that was mild and I was just a wimp not trying enough.

Thank you professionals! I also have allergic and stress related conditions that mean my cognition varies from day to day pretty dramatically which total confusion and jumbled writing during periods of stress or high levels of pollen, and pretty clear writing some of the time. And I've been stuck dealing with violent people on and off for years so.. That has done a number on what would likely have been more mild deficits. I can literally feel my whole chest and forhead puff up when dealing with the antics of particular people I'm forced to deal with. And then I get more confused.

I recognized to people not interested neurobiology this might not be interesting, but personally I find it fascinating because I have an inside experience on observing the details of how conditions like this work. Very interesting, especially combined with a lot of reading about the immune system, social interaction, and brain function.
posted by xarnop at 8:33 AM on May 31


The only "prescriptivists" who would go with "to Erin or I," are the uninformed ones. They tend to be people who are worried that they'd sound ignorant by saying "me" instead of "I." But they're dead wrong.
posted by etaoin at 8:34 AM on May 31 [3 favorites]


I mean, when I, someone in the last year of my PhD in English, find myself being "corrected" for saying "When you're done, could you pass that to Erin or me?" because someone has decided that it must always be "Erin or I," it's hard not to believe that any attempt to proactively escape the judgement of the gatekeepers is doomed to failure.

"Erin or I", from what I hear, overwhelms "Erin or me" by more than 90%, to the point where I'm more surprised to hear the latter than the former. I correct my daughter (because you can do that with your own children even if you mustn't with anybody else) and she gets the inherent problem ("Would you say 'please pass it to I'?" "Well, no...."), but does tend to rejoin the majority five minutes later.

Still sounds odd to me, and even to I.
posted by BWA at 9:45 AM on May 31


I'm assuming it's search robots etc. that are marking all the "The", "but", "is", and so on as misspelled. For the sake of my sanity, I'm hoping so.
posted by xedrik at 9:49 AM on May 31


I missed one word, probably the easiest one! How did I not see untill?

98%
posted by Lynsey at 9:52 AM on May 31


38/4/1. Grrr. You, look at a nice word like bizzare, hmmm, bizzarre is not right, guess it's probably ok. Damn it. (Of course, if I just sit down to spell it, I know how it's spelled. Go figure.)

One of the strangest things as my older daughter's been growing up is realizing how hard spelling really is. She reads like a champ, has great vocabulary (there's nothing funnier than an 8 year old flexing the results of a 24-7 diet of Tamora Pierce), but her spelling is just wack when she's not concentrating on a spelling test. This year, luckily, the spelling tests have been going better, but last year it took the concerted effort and lots of at-home testing to get ok scores on them. (Of course, writing is really hard for her too---I think maybe just the physical effort of forming letters is frustrating. It's not like she doesn't have a good imagination for stories.)
posted by leahwrenn at 10:48 AM on May 31


39/3/1. I did better than I thought I would, actually. I missed "politican" from mere oversight and I thought "wacky" should be "whacky"--which was just overthinking it.
posted by yoink at 11:45 AM on May 31


39/3/1 (93%), grr. And where is X, Y, and Z? Because I would've crushed those.
posted by sfkiddo at 11:53 AM on May 31 [1 favorite]


I thought "wacky" should be "whacky"

A traditionalist, I see.
posted by IndigoJones at 1:44 PM on May 31 [1 favorite]


81% (31 8 3)

Does anyone else notice spelling errors by just glancing at sentences without really reading them? Like, give me a hole sheet of text and within a few seconds I can spot spelling errors.
posted by qsysopr at 2:04 PM on May 31


I've been collecting words that are just off -- the wrong word is similar in spelling and meaning to the correct one and thus gets used by mistake. I don't think this is just due to autocorrect.

leach for leech (the blood-sucking invertebrate might be said to leach blood from its host)
hoard for horde (crowds of people, suggesting hoards of people)
marshmellow for marshmallow (the mild taste seems mellow; has anyone modern heard of mallows?)
posted by bad grammar at 2:13 PM on May 31 [1 favorite]


bad grammar, the one that annoys me is people saying "free reign" instead of "free rein."

and there's using "loose" instead of "lose" in a phrase such as "lose one's mind."
posted by needled at 3:26 PM on May 31 [1 favorite]


"free reign" instead of "free rein."

Look, man, those might as well be the same word. You control a nation, you control a horse, what's the difference?
posted by Sys Rq at 3:34 PM on May 31 [1 favorite]


Too bad they have Canadian/British spellings in there as "incorrect"

They don't, though. I spell the noun/verb form as "humour" too, but according to the Oxford Dictionary, the standard American AND British/Canadian spelling for the adjective form is "humorous." It's the same for "glamour" and "glamorous."
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 3:57 PM on May 31


Yeah, but they misspelled arbour.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:43 PM on May 31


Until my brain fossilized with age, I was pretty doggone good at spotting the misspellings. My problem was often I could tell they were wrong, but I couldn't seem to get them right. I didn't do too bad for an old git, (low 90s) but dang if getting old isn't the sucks.

I misspell most often when I'm concentrating on framing ideas rather than the typing. The best invention evar was the squiggly red line!!
posted by BlueHorse at 6:25 PM on May 31


The Venn diagram of people who are good at spelling and the people who think spelling is important is a perfect circle.

False. I am great at spelling and wish my brain were using those cycles on something else. It's something I was born with, basically. My grandfather could spot the misspelling on a page of text without reading any of the words and I do just the same thing. It's one of those superpowers that was super useful for him 60 years ago, and is just goofy amounts of useless now.
posted by town of cats at 8:43 PM on May 31 [2 favorites]


mnemonic" "Only one c is necessary to drown cyclops, except occasionally, where one-i needs two c's" I MADE THAT UP GOLD STAR.
posted by aesop at 2:19 AM on June 1


Sooooo pleased with self that there is a "colon malfunction" hem-hem. Instead we get the ubiquitous "inches" sign. Sigh. GOLD STAR REVOKED.
posted by aesop at 2:35 AM on June 1



I was able to remember how to spell success thanks to a Full House episode:
when Michelle or Stephanie is learning to spell, Danny teaches her: "Double the c, double the S, and you have success"
posted by fizzix at 7:10 AM on June 1


wingardium leviosa!

Oh, wait, not that kind of spelling...
posted by DreamerFi at 7:58 AM on June 1


I was able to remember how to spell success thanks to a Full House episode

Me too! (Then I always remember Bart Simpson's less accurate version: "S-U-C-C-E-E-S, that's the way you spell success!")

But, really, you can just sound it out. Pretty much any time you're not sure how many c's something has, you can be sure that if there's an x sound there, then there's two of 'em, one hard and one soft. Accelerate, accent, access, accident, etc., etc., etc.

(BTW, everyone is mispronouncing flaccid.)
posted by Sys Rq at 8:04 AM on June 1


(BTW, everyone is mispronouncing flaccid.

"Flak-sid" would be the "moist" of the double consonants. Yuck.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:13 AM on June 1


(For the record, "everyone" includes me.)
posted by Sys Rq at 8:47 AM on June 1


Several friends have posted this on facebook, and I hadn't gone to do it, because proofreading used to be a significant part of my work when I was well (or only sick enough that I could still work). Misspellings used to just pop out of text for me, sore-thumb style. Then I got much sicker, my cognitive dysfunction much worse, and on top of that, my treatment-resistant insomnia began requiring multiple drugs, one of which has a well-earned reputation for turning your brain into Play-Doh. Now not only can I not see misspellings, I make them constantly, and I screw up homonyms, which I *never* did before. Getting 88% on this practically reduced me to tears, and I would have likely missed more had I not read some of this thread first. Losing this part of my self-concept has been so, so hard.
posted by jocelmeow at 4:26 PM on June 3 [1 favorite]


jocelmeow, *hugs*. I used to have that same "sore-thumb" proofreading ability -- mine diminished a bit over the years even without any real cognitive issues (and it's so weird that homonyms seem to get so hard, when they never were before!) -- and I can very much imagine how hard that shift must be.
posted by jaguar at 6:48 PM on June 3 [1 favorite]


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