Now that you’ve met my sophomore English teacher, it seems only fitting to meet proper grammar’s significant other, correct spelling.
As a student, I can remember being given assignments where the teacher ran the laundry list of what was expected: 500 or more words, complete sentences, complete paragraphs, references appropriately cited and proper grammar. Inevitably, it took all of two seconds for someone to raise the next logical question, “Does spelling count?”
Wearily, the teacher would nod her head and assure us that spelling did indeed count.
While nearly all of my fellow classmates were groaning, I was silently cheering. You see, my fervor for proper grammar is surpassed only by my eagle eye for correct spelling.
Years later, as a teacher, I took some sick pleasure in putting correct spelling at the top of my list of requirements when writing papers.
Where, you might ask, did my love of words like “antidistestablishmentarianism” come from?
Two words: spelling bee.
I was first introduced to the mother of all inter-student competition at age 9. Fourth grade was the earliest one could compete in this event, and I went at it with a vengeance. I was so excited, and studied the official word list for days. Unfortunately, my nerves got the better of me, and I was “dinged” on my first word “maximum”, which, to this day I swear I spelled correctly.
The next four years brought two wins, a place, and a show. I’m sure that my love of spelling was cultivated and encouraged through participation in the bee.
Now, for all of you who freely admit that spelling is “not your thing,” I don’t hold that against you. I do, however, cringe every time I receive an e-mail with spelling errors. I shudder when I read a newspaper article riddled with misspellings. For goodness sake, does “spell check” mean nothing anymore? And what about a good, old-fashioned dictionary?
Any other word-lovers out there?