Date: Fri, 12 Jan 1996 12:32:13 -0500

From: "Dennis R. Preston" preston[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]PILOT.MSU.EDU

Subject: Re: Commonly misspelled words?

Charlotte Thomas notes the following:

There are numerous words which I frequently find to be misspelled. I

have noticed this in official publications as well as more casual

writings too, which is surprising. Among these are:







There seems to be an interesting tendency for Americans to make these

misspellings. Maybe Americans are just generally bad spellers. It may

be genetic. Had anybody got any other possible suggestions for why

this might be?

Now ain't that funny. I thought it was British spellers that were (perhaps

even genetically) malformed. I notice they always spell these words wrong:

theater (the spell it -re)

judgment (they use a extra 'e')

tire (they use a 'y' [!])

and lots of others.

But more seriously---

I was surprised to learn recently that France also has a national spelling

contest. I thought it was only the US where this low-level skill was

confused with intelligence and even moral (perhaps family) values. It's odd

that the many excellent surveys of usage and opinions about language use in

the US (Finegan, Bolinger, Drake, Bailey, etc...) do not touch on this

incredibly entrenched popular and folk-culture reality. (Notice that it is

a perennial part of every know-nothing back-to-basics movement). 'Attitudes

to Spelling in the US.' Great thesis.