Thomas Jefferson reportedly said that to his daughter, Martha. I like it. Mainly because I’m such a geek. And because I just recently learned some great news. Are you ready for this? There’s an organization in my city that puts on a corporate spelling bee every year as a fundraiser for a literacy program.
So, just to make sure you get the whole picture. This is a spelling bee for grown-ups! And it’s for charity! Does it get any better than this? It’s already happened for this year, but you better believe I’ll be signing up next year!
If I were a real nerd, I would note here that this gives me 11 months to practice. But I’m not saying that. (Although I will admit to being totally blown away by the way they studied in Akeelah and the Bee. Who knew there was a way to study spelling that’s so much better than rote memorization?!) Yeah, I love this movie. But I won’t actually be studying for next year’s spelling bee. Well, you know, not for several months at least…
Now, for those of you who aren’t spelling-obsessed like I am, you’ll be satisfied to find that you’re not alone. In an effort to find support for my belief that spelling is of utmost importance in this world (I know – who needs more support when you’ve got Thomas Jefferson on your side?), I found a few people who don’t think spelling is, well, the bee’s knees. (I couldn’t help it!)
First we have another president, Andrew Jackson, who said, “It’s a damn poor mind that can think of only one way to spell a word!” (This reminds me of my friend, Kimi, who, when caught singing the wrong lyrics along to the radio, said, “I can’t believe they [the actual band] don’t know the words to this song!”)
Also opposed to spelling rules is Mark Twain, who said, among other colorful things, “I never had any large respect for good spelling.” (That might explain the tricky-to-read dialect of Huck Finn!)
And then I went to another Martha, someone who appreciates the finer arts of grammar and spelling, someone I was certain would back me up on my belief that correct spelling is crucial. I went to Martha Brockenbrough. She’s a columnist for MSN Encarta, she’s had a blog about her daughters on the Cranium website, she created the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar (SPOGG), and she wrote an article called, Tips from a Former Spelling Champion. Surely Martha B (also self-proclaimed “Grumpy Martha” when it comes to grammar issues) would back me up on this one.
But that was not the case. Though her article implies, by its very existence, that spelling is important, she also has some pointed comments that say otherwise. She admits that our society tends to assume people who can’t spell aren’t intelligent (okay…guilty…), but she apparently doesn’t agree. Her argument is that English is just a darned tricky language to learn properly! She even calls the language “promiscuous,” because it continues to adopt words from other languages…and rappers. (Exhibit 1: bling. Exhibit 2: jiggy.) Finally, Martha says that the English language is a nightmare. Encarta even includes a sidebar to guide us to a whole organization dedicated to revising our spelling system to using more phonetic (fu-nett-ick?) system.
She does go on to then share some spelling tips. And even Grumpy Martha can’t resist telling her readers that she dominated her school’s spelling bees and almost made it to the national spelling bee. So maybe I’ll join Martha and admit that maybe (MAYBE) spelling isn’t the most important thing in the world and may not be the only or best way to determine a person’s intelligence.
But can I also tell you about the time I won the county spelling bee in sixth grade?