Sunday, May 26, 2013

How Do You Spell Intelligent?

Full disclosure: my kids can’t spell worth crap.

My son, diagnosed with dysgraphia (extreme difficulty with handwriting), recently got his Iowa Test scores back. As usual, all of his scores were high, except for the spelling subtest, where he scored in the 25th percentile. (And if you have ever seen how my son spells, you’d be asking, “Twenty-five percent of kids spell worse than that?)

Meanwhile, no one could possibly impersonate my daughter, who is both smart and dyslexic, when she texts. “Concussion” is “concoction,” her friend Michael is “Mickle,” and “weird” is invariably “weard.”

But, nope, I refuse to worry about spelling. Because so many abilities – reasoning, creative problem-solving, social skills – are far more important.

This opinion was strengthened recently when I was buying some books on language. Here are some honest-to-God Amazon reviews:
Hmph, sniffed one, "This is a usage guide, not a grammar guide," for a book called Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies. (Umm, did you not see the title?)
In a review entitled, "Bryson, you're an ass," for The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way, another writes, "I am an undergraduate student in linguistics and as a gramarian (sic) ... I must say that this book represents the lowest and least informed type of linguistic literature to date. Bryson has no concept of ... humility." (Emphases mine.)

While I’m all for proofreading, I’m also with Andrew Jackson, who said, “It’s a damn poor mind that can think of only one way to spell a word.”

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