Posted by: cindybiz | April 28, 2010

Spelling…how important is it?

Hmmm…spelling…we all learned it in school…I teach it to my children as I homeschool them…but how important is it?? I will be honest with you, this is just something I am pondering…I am not planning to throw out the dictionary!! Ido, afterall, make sure that I use the proper “your” or “you’re” when writing my blog posts!

Here is the definition of spelling: Spelling is the writing of a word or words with the necessary letters and diacritics present in an accepted standard order.

I guess the reason I am pondering this is because I was “called onto the carpet” about a quote I put up on my facebook page: “When U give someone a book, U don’t give just paper, ink, & glue. U give the possibility of a whole new life”. Christopher Morley Pretty cool quote, don’t you think?? But the questioner was upset because of the “U” instead of “you”…..the reason it was like that is if you post on Twitter, you only have 140 characters, so you do what you need to do and I am sure that is why such liberties were taken with the English language.

The following quote was circulated awhile ago…take a read:

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a total mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh?

Hmmm again….so what is our goal in learning how to spell well? I would think it would be so that others can understand what we are trying to communicate…but the example above shows that spelling isn’t really the only factor…sometimes context is just as important.

So…as I continue to ponder, what do YOU think? When you text, do you use full words or “2” for “to” etc. When you want share a complete thought on Twitter, how important is it to use full words or would a few short forms help fit it all in? Isn’t the most important point that the message is received??

So…why am I writing this blog post?? I really want to hear from YOU!! What do you think about spelling? Is it contextual…should it be super important…are we just lazy?? I am SO looking forward to hearing your thoughts about this…so comment below!!

Photo Credit: kiwanja



  1. I’m new to facebook, so twitter, for me, is around the corner so I am ready to EMBRACE any SHORTCUTS –Also I find when typing certain strings in lowercase, as required by my computer (i.e. passwords, and some email names) I then find myself typing without capitals when I am back to typing messages. Just as language has changed (anyone remember shoppe, programme?) over the past centuries, I think we all need to join the 21st century, so ‘When in Twitterland, tweet, as the Tweeters do.’However I do love to see correct grammar and as a teacher and tutor, errors jump out to me and distract me. The book (sorry I can’t underline in this blog), Eats, Shoots, and Leaves comes to mind, too, where punctuation changes the meaning completely.

    • Agree with your thoughts…thanks for sharing them!!

  2. I have received that Cambridge University email a number of times and it bothers me that it is used in such a way as to diminish the importance of spelling. I think that one of the reasons many of us are able to read that is because we were taught the proper spelling in the first place. Our brains are amazing (thus the reason why word scrambles are fun) and can flip the letters so that we understand the word even when it is mixed up. If we did not know the correct order of the letters in the first place we might not be able to read the whole passage (some words can be guessed correctly due to context).

    With regards to “texts” and “tweets” and mobile Facebook status updates, I supposed there is some flexibility for using what I refer to as “chat lingo”. This is of course because of the limited amount of characters allowed when writing in this way. However, it really bothers me when people use “U” and “UR” and other short forms for actual words in emails or even in chat conversation online when there are no limits to the characters you can type. I feel this comes across as lazy and perhaps gives off as disrespectful. My mom is an academic counselor at UWO and she says that I would be surprised at how often the students email her or send in forms with such language on them. Using such shortcuts does not exactly portray an image of knowledge and capability and in fact may portray the opposite. Improper spelling and grammar on a resume could point towards lack of attention to detail and cost you employment!

    So these are just my opinions, but I think that proper spelling and grammar are extremely important in how seriously we are taken when we write. It shows respect to other people and care for detail rather than rudeness and laziness. I think that spelling skills lead to greater vocabulary which leads to greater understanding of what we are reading and enhances our ability to communicate ideas to other people.

    There is a time and a place for “chat lingo”. I can be flexible and not be bothered by those things within a certain context, but I feel that changing “you’re” to “UR” is not the same thing as adopting a slightly different spelling to a word because it has been changed from British English to Canadian English and so on. So I suppose I am saying that in the 21st century the importance of spelling IS contextual (as long as the spelling used is actually able to get the message across). I would argue that there are very specific contexts in which the rules of spelling and grammar can be used more loosely. If we throw caution to the wind and abandon the basics of our language in all facets of communication I think we reduce our vocabulary and our ability to think for ourselves.

    On a personal note, when I send text messages (usually to my husband) I would rather send my messages in two parts to complete my thought rather than used shortened words and phrases. Poor spelling and grammar is a pet peeve of mine and has been ever since a teacher of mine in the fifth grade had to be corrected on multiple occasions in front of the class. I suppose for other people it would depend on how much you are paying for each text message!

    • Thank you! You summarized my thinking on this. There is definitely a time and a place for how we should communicate and perhaps that should be added into what is taught during spelling lessons! Thanks for taking the time to respond!

  3. I think it’s okay to shorten and change words on twitter or when texting.
    It is becoming a new language. I should probably learn it before my kids get old enough to start texting. Here’s two links for some of the shorthand texting that is done today. The first one is g-rated. I’m bookmarking the second one to make sure I don’t see any of the inappropriate ones from my kids or their friends. Let’s hope they have more sense than that, but it’s good to be in the know.
    As for spelling and grammar, teach it and make children use it in other areas of their lives. Plus limit the time used for texting. People should talk face to face or on the phone more often.

  4. I agree with Jan Pritchard comments about the Cambridge Univeristy letter. Good readers can read this because we have read and written proper spelling for many years. We have filled in the correct spelling and used it to read the words. There is some truth to using the structure of a sentence to know words and we know some words by looking at the first and last sound of a word. Young children can only go so far with reading this way. Without phonics and knowledge of proper spelling, they get stuck at about the middle of the first grade level in reading.
    Many adults and teachers start believing that this is how children learn to read and think proper spelling and phonics are not necessary to teach reading. Some children learn phonics and proper spelling without help, but some children don’t and struggle.
    I tutor reading from my home and volunteer at my children’s school. A child needs to be taught the rules to words and learn to read a word from beginning to end. Writing and reading are tied closely together.
    I’m going to stop rambling here. If you want more of my rambling go to:

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