Take care that you never spell a word wrong…It produces great praise to a lady to spell well.

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?

20 Comments Take care that you never spell a word wrong…It produces great praise to a lady to spell well.

  1. chelleybutton April 13, 2008 at 2:44 am

    Congrats on winning in 6th grade! I’m sure you’ll win again next year. ;) And I agree with all of this, I think — I like words to be spelled correctly, and it drives me crazy when people confuse things like “than” and “then.” And although I know plenty of very intelligent people who can’t spell, I admit to subconsciously thinking people who can’t spell are less intelligent. But I also like the flexibility of our language, that we borrow from others, etc. So… I guess I’m a geek too. ;)

  2. HonorMommy April 13, 2008 at 5:22 am

    I think she’s just bitter because she DIDN’T make it to the national spelling bee…ALMOST is not quite good enough so she is lashing out at how difficult the English language is….she is a poor loser and I think it is quite sad…tsk tsk tsk ;-)

    Thanks for commenting on my blog btw! Your blog looks quite promising :-D

  3. photoqueen April 13, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    Thanks, honormommy! And chelley!

    Chelley, you’ll appreciate this spelling-related story. A certain single friend of mine and I filled out the eHarmony questionnaire for her Friday night. (My goodness, there are a lot of questions on that thing!) Even though she didn’t pay for an actual membership, it showed a few matches. The one who couldn’t spell worth squat…well…I have to admit I vetoed for that reason alone!

    I guess maybe I should work on this spelling prejudice I have…

  4. chelleybutton April 13, 2008 at 5:38 pm

    yup, i often found myself doing that too… sometimes they’d be foreign so i’d try to give them the benefit of the doubt, but i have to admit it was hard to ignore!

    also, the 1st step in communicating is to choose 5 [multiple-choice] questions from a bank, and 1 of them asks what would bother you most about your mate — being superstitious, not knowing current events, or poor grammar, and of course i chose poor grammar whenever i was asked that question! :)

  5. HonorMommy April 13, 2008 at 10:37 pm

    Hey photo…do you mind if I add your blog to my list of interesting blogs to read? I know I don’t really “know” you, but your blog is definitely interesting :-D…and any friend of Chelley’s…

  6. photoqueen April 14, 2008 at 12:48 am

    Sure, honormommy! I’m honored that you would ask. I know, I know, that’s a terrible pun, but I couldn’t help myself! :)

  7. HonorMommy April 14, 2008 at 2:00 am

    You and Chelley both! ;-P

  8. triplesalchow April 14, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    I was always a good speller, (they had to make a higher spelling group just for me in Elementary)and I always wanted to equate that with intelligence….but alas, the smartest person I know personally (fulbright scholar, fell asleep during the ACT and still got a 34)is also one of the worst spellers I know. Sigh.

  9. chelleybutton April 14, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    i think it has something to do with being a boy — it’s a boy you’re talking about, right? my brother’s like that too… it also seems to go with those people who are smart without studying (and who don’t really bother to study)… but i have no scientific research to back that up, of course ;)

  10. chelleybutton April 14, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    I guess what I’m saying is that good spellers are detail-oriented. Bad spellers, therefore, are not. ;)

  11. photoqueen April 14, 2008 at 4:14 pm

    Ooh, good theory, chelley. I like it. It makes sense.

    (Does this mean detail-oriented people are intelligent, then?)


  12. chelleybutton April 14, 2008 at 6:04 pm

    Yes, I think we must make that conclusion! :) Of course, there are several types of intelligence, so there might be plenty of intelligent people who can’t spell because they are intelligent in a different way. However, I think we all (who read this blog;) agree that ours is the most important type of intelligence. :D

  13. triplesalchow April 14, 2008 at 6:54 pm

    Nope. Very female, actually. I always thought it meant she was thinking about much more important things than which letter came next. Hey, photoqueen, have you ever seen Spellbound? It’s one of those documentaries that make you love documentaries.

  14. chelleybutton April 14, 2008 at 7:49 pm

    aw, ok, i guess spelling’s not that important… :(

  15. melilotnfosco April 14, 2008 at 9:29 pm

    i must admit that i’m judgmental when it comes to spelling and grammar, too. and while i (obviously) understand that blogging and im-ing are different from real writing, there are some things that still bug me, like ‘u r 2 sweet’ and ‘nxt tym wil go ther.’

  16. photoqueen April 14, 2008 at 10:47 pm

    Triple – I haven’t seen Spellbound. I need to, though!

    Melilot – I couldn’t agree more. IM-speak bugs me!

  17. hobbitsister April 15, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    a grown-up spelling bee? that would be fun, although i’d probably find out rather quickly that i’m not as adept at spelling as i’d thought. those kids who do the national spelling bee are amazing!

  18. hobbitsister April 15, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    i still haven’t seen “akeelah and the bee”. i wanted to watch it with my girls, but they spent a weekend at grandma’s and she rented it and watched it with them. now they say “i’ve already seen it”, and i never get to watch movies by myself.

  19. melilotnfosco April 15, 2008 at 9:45 pm

    that’s why you have a computer, silly

  20. Pingback: Nerd Alert! — Giving Up on Perfect

Leave a Reply