Perhaps we should just call this post a stream of consciousness. Wow, there’s a word that’s hard to spell. My first attempt was conciseness. Spelling has always been difficult for me. Well, English itself is a bit odd – lots of rules and lots of exceptions to the rules – lie ‘i’ before ‘e’ except after ‘c’.
It’s a big lie. There are thousands of words were ‘e’ comes before ‘i’. Google it. I lost count around 30.
I just can’t keep track of all the rules, never could. In fact my teachers recommended that I repeat the fifth grade because my spelling was so bad. Well, so was my hand writing. The same teacher who said I couldn’t spell also said she couldn’t read my hand writing – either printed or cursive. So if she couldn’t read my writing, how did she know I couldn’t spell?
My father’s advice was, “Just decide how a word is spelled – right or wrong – just spell it the same way all the time.”
He was partly right, if you learn to do something the same way all the time, then you have a shot at correcting what you’re doing. If you just do it at random you’re just confused. I do spend a lot of my life confused, but that would be a longer essay.
By the time I got to seventh grade both my teachers and my father thought it would be best if I were taught to type. At least they’d have a chance to figure out if it was my spelling or handwriting that was so bad.
Turns out it’s both. Even today I can’t read what I handwrite. If it wasn’t for modern computers and word processing software, I wouldn’t be able to write at all. Spelling is helped by the built in spell checkers, but still weird things happen like consciousness coming out as conciseness.
Now, I’m not completely hopeless at spelling and over the years I’ve managed to get words out correctly. The weird (another ‘i’ before ‘e’ violator) thing is that because I type, word spellings have become muscle memory – I can type a lot words correctly, but ask me to spell something and it’s really hard to vocalize the spelling. I actually have to visualize typing the word and report what my fingers would do.
For example, ask me to spell my name, “Andrew” – I have no idea that the letters are ‘A’ ‘n’ and so on. What really happens in my brain when I want to spell “Andrew” is something like this: “Right pinky shift lock, left pinky, right index, left middle, left index up, left middle up, left ring up.”
Just the other day I was on the phone with my doctor’s office and the medical assistant wanted to confirm the spelling of my first name – which I found weird as most people can spell it. As she carefully spelled, “Andrew” my brain struggled to keep up with all those letter and it took me awhile to decide she had it correctly recorded.
I’m still not sure it she got it right. Hope it doesn’t affect my insurance.
People rarely ask to spell things because I often answer, “con and a bunch of little letters after that.”
Which sometimes actually works when you’re typing on a cell phone or iPad as those devices try to guess what you’re really typing. And sometimes the computer guess work just makes it worse – like thinking you’re texting your wife that you’re going to the drug store and it comes out that you’re on your way to the fudge store. It can make life interesting.