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.”

Thanks dad.

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.

About Andrew Reynolds

Born in California Did the school thing studying electronics, computers, release engineering and literary criticism. I worked in the high tech world doing software release engineering and am now retired. Then I got prostate cancer. Now I am a blogger and work in my wood shop doing scroll saw work and marquetry.
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21 Responses to Spelling

  1. Christi says:

    I was always a good speller, though I’ve never been sure why. Are some people just tuned into it more that others? What’s unfair is that we often associate smarts with spelling and I’m sure that’s not the case. My daughter is way smarter than me and an atrocious speller.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “Fudge store” sounds like a whole lot more fun than “drugstore” – maybe you should have listened to your phone on that one. 😉 Hubby belongs to the generation that was taught “phonics”, and is completely doomed when it comes to spelling. Even if I could read his handwriting, I likely wouldn’t be able to decipher the words. Oddly enough, he learns computer languages easily and has no difficulty getting the spelling and syntax right when he’s programming. Go figure…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Baydreamer says:

    I’m sure many can relate to this post, Andrew. The English language is odd, isn’t it? So many rules and exceptions, like you said. I’ve always been good at spelling and won some spelling bees when I was young. But sometimes, I’ll get stuck on a word that I’ve been writing forever. What does that mean? And when it comes to handwriting or typing, I love to type! I’ll write in journals, otherwise, typing is my first choice. The computer is also funny like you mentioned, mixing up words and creating a totally different message. I get frustrated with my cell phone, always having to correct the auto correct! Anyway, keep on tapping on those keys!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I was terrible at spelling in school and have adored spell check since it’s inception. My grandson (who started virtual kindergarten yesterday) write his name on paper backwards and upside down. How is that for interesting? Thinking he may have some issues to grapple with…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Our brains are such amazing and unique things and we are each so special. Thanks for sharing your view of this world.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Dave says:

    “conscious” or “conscientious”? I always hesitate with those two, wondering if I’ve mistakenly used one in place of the other.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Interesting collection of challenges. My son has similar. They labeled him as having dysgrafia (sp?). Who knows, though. He too lives with a computer.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I have always been a good speller and would actually ‘see’ the letters in my head as I spelled them. But lately, my inner spellcheck is off and I find myself thinking how to spell certain words and getting them wrong. (P.S. I think it’s a sign of aging, but I don’t want to admit that.) My husband, on the other hand, is an atrocious speller.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. jfwknifton says:

    I used to work two lessons a week with pupils with dyslexia and you sound to me to have a classic case. Can’t spell, poor handwriting and teachers who don’t recognise it.
    I’m no expert, though, and if I did two lessons a week other people did 35 ! There’s no cure for dyslexia, but look at it this way. There’s no cure for film star good looks either.

    Liked by 1 person

    • When I was in school back in the 60’s there wasn’t anything labeled dyslexia and I was just considered “sloppy.” I’m sure if I was in school now, I would have been treated differently. These days I’ve learned to manage with a good computer and software.


  10. Windwhistle says:

    My handwriting has become almost illegible since the advent of computers. As for the phone, I just dictate my text messages. Of course then I have to carefully proofread and correct before sending.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I rarely send texts to anyone but my wife and many of the times I’m doing that is in the car where I use the applePlay app to dictate my messages. I’ve learned to keep them short and simple.


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