Sp

So I have been pondering on a little blog about spelling. I know. It sounds thrilling. I can tell you're unimaginably excited at the prospect.

But the reason I hesitate to write such a blog isn't because of the boredom it might inspire. It's because I'm not sure I'm right.

So here's the thing.  A long time ago when the internet was still a baby, I had a cosy little forum called The Stoop.  We had a number of nice chats, shared gripes, and silly jokes. I still miss it (it just disappeared one day - presumably a failed internet venture at the back end).
I remember posting a small observation about something that was puzzling me; I assumed that the growth of blogs and forums would prompt a surge of improved spelling.

But a friend of mine was baffled at my assumption. "Why," she wrote, "would the internet mean better spelling?"

I was aghast. "Because it's PUBLIC!" I yelled in my head, "Because it's OUT THERE for ANYONE to read! Don't you care how that LOOKS?"

And I realised that I might be alone in my belief that how you write something is as important as what you write; that for me the presence of a badly spelled phrase is pretty much the same as a red flag that this writer can't be trusted to be accurate or thorough.

This writing lark is a lot like public speaking. You have to have your facts, clarity, something to say, and the awareness that people are listening.  I would never stand up in front of a large audience and burble inanely about things I don't know enough about - not unless I was on Just A Minute. I want to be able to verify my position, stand by my convictions, and personally I need to be sure I'm confident in my views before I do that.

And that reminded me that the group of us who are concerned about accuracy, factual evidence, and the ability to back up statements, is actually the minority.  There is a much larger group who want to say what they think, and the fact that they think it is evidence enough of its basic truth.  Whilst I will go back through my postings to make sure that the words I've used are absolutely the ones I need, that their meaning can't be misconstrued, and that everything is spelled properly, not everyone thinks this is the way to express themselves. Some people just want to respond as quickly as possible.  And the problem with this quick, and frequently misspelled response, is that I can't take it seriously.  If you don't care enough about your statement to frame it properly, then I suspect you can't back it up.  And here's the place where I might be wrong. I might be being horribly unfair.  There could be incredibly smart people out there, happy to indulge in a bit of text speak shorthand, the odd emoticon, and the fast and furious bashing out of disorderly replies.  There might be.

So should the odd missing letter, comma, or full stop tell you anything more about the response than that they might have been in a hurry?  Should words that have been used in the wrong context start alarm bells ringing when you can see what they probably meant?

Well...

Screw it. Words are important.  How you use them is important. And if you can't be bothered to state your position in a way that makes me ready to at least consider your point of view, then you're really just wasting space.

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