Useless Skills Part 3: Ability to Spell, English


Now that the Barcamp Kerala has come and gone, I can resume my Useless Skills series. Let us start a skill I truly detest – the ability to spell correctly. I honestly see no benefit to memorize countless alphabet orderings. Even if I am the best speller in the world, the simplest spell checker can still beat me. And it would be embarrassingly easy for them. If they really have to strain – you know, smoke coming from the monitor and all, I could live with it. But no – to a spell checker, finding the correct spelling is going through a text file – one of the simplest thing a computer can do.

I will never say that I am a bad speller – I would say that I am a Creative speller. If I use the same word three times in a sentence, I usually end up using a different spelling for each instance. That’s creativity! Its a Good ThingTM.


Since I mostly write in English, I reserve a special hate for that language’s spelling. But don’t underestimate me – my spelling mistakes are not restricted to just one language – I have made countless spelling errors in English, Malayalam and Hindi. My spelling error skills are multi-lingual. But I digress – back to the topic at hand – English spellings.

In English, what you write and how that is pronounced has little or no relation. In fact, they had to invent another language just to make sure words are pronounced correctly. Don’t believe me? Here is some simple proof…

Example 1: Read – It can be spoken as reed(present tense of read) – and as red(past tense). Exact same spelling – two different way of saying the word.

Example 2: Buy, Bye, by – Exact same pronunciations – so you would expect the spellings to be same too, right? Noooo! They had to invent different spellings. And it in by no means restricted to these three words. I choose them to make fun of NSync – they had an song called Bye, Bye, Bye. Or was it Buy, Buy, Buy? From the marketing point of view, the latter one makes more sense.

Weight – were was eye? S – same pronunciations – butt different spellings. The last too ore three sentences wood make it abundantly clear that this phenomenon is note restricted two bi, bie, bai. This not only make it hard for humans – it makes the job hard for the spell checkers as well. Don’t believe me? Here is a poem for your non-believers…

Eye halve a spelling checker,
It came with my pea sea,
It plainly marques four my revue
Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.

Eye strike a key and type a word
And weight four it two say
Weather eye am wrong oar write
It shows me strait a weigh.

As soon as a mist ache is maid
It nose bee fore two long
And eye can put the error rite
Its rarely ever wrong.

Eye have run this poem threw it
I'm shore your pleased two no
Its letter perfect in it's weigh,
My checker tolled me sew.

End of Part 1

OK – just writing this has made me really mad at English – and the genius who invented it. Nice going there, *censored*. Now let me take a moment to calm down. Think happy thoughts… computers … programming … javascript … linux … ahh. OK – I’m back.

I am better – but still a bit angry. I’ll have to end the I Cannot Spell, Part 1: English here. Wait for the next part, I Cannot Spell, Part 2: The Other Languages. Did you think this was the end? No – this is just the beginning – my hate for spelling cannot be contained in just one post.

31 thoughts on “Useless Skills Part 3: Ability to Spell, English

  1. Ha ha ha… Brilliant, Binny! That poem was superb. Keep em coming… 🙂

    PS: You wrote “… of view, the latter *on* makes …” Was that intended?

  2. Eye agree wit U. Unless U R Writing two the American President, in most cases, Good spilling is kinda not important.

    The Gaol is to cenvoy the ieda!

    De Peom Rcks!

    1. I got the poem from an old version of wikipedia. Since you got a laugh, I consider it worth the effort. Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V was a lot of effort for me 😉

  3. LOL! Kollaam!
    did you happen to catch Stallman when he came down for FOSS ?
    I’m sure you would’ve. I know your geeky kind 🙂

    Spread the uselessness \m/
    Puthiya post up! Samayamullapol vayikkuka anugrahikkuka 😀

  4. The poem seemed funny with all the spelling errors in it. But i disagree with your views.

    A language is meant to be used in accordance with a set of rules(grammar,spelling); otherwise it ceases to be one. What is the point of using a language if you hate the idea of spelling it correctly? Just conveying the message?

    Take the case of a programming ‘language’. You would`nt want a spelling error in that too, would you?

    You repeat that you are a good speller; why disagree upon a quality you yourself happen to be good at? I don`t claim to be the prize winner of a spelling-bee contest, but i feel that good spelling in a language you use is a skill you must work on.

    “finding the correct spelling is going through a text file – one of the simplest thing a computer can do”
    Does the ultimate goal of learning a language be that you can type out sentences into a computer and spell-check it? I don`t think so.

    “I will never say that I am a bad speller – I would say that I am a Creative speller. If I use the same word three times in a sentence, I usually end up using a different spelling for each instance.”
    I am sorry but using 3 different spellings strikes me as carelessness and not as creativity

    “my spelling error skills ….”
    Its sad you choose to refer to it as a skill.

    Consider a world in which you have novels full of spelling errors; rhetorics which seem meaningless. I really see no perspective through which i could agree with this post.

    1. The point of the post is that learning to spell is unnecessary – and a huge waste of your brain power. If we have spell checkers, why waste time trying to learn something that is very badly designed?

  5. Hey….. What zubin meant was rite but the way he told it was a sort of ‘rude’……

    The poem was indeed good but the problem is It takes much time to understand it, And it would have taken a lot effort and less time if you had written it in proper english……….
    But still good going….

    The poem was written that way to be funny, thats ok. But you cant write a letter to your boss in this english…..
    And English was not invented by one guy…… It evolved from many languages…

  6. Ha! Ha! Totally agree with you! When I watch these spelling-bee contests, I actually feel sorry for the kids who participate. Honestly, don’t they have anything better to do?

    1. Bit of research on spelling bee participants. They love what they do, in general, even if the work of studying is sometimes not fun. The self-discipline they develop in the process helps them become successful in other parts of life, into adulthood. Feel sorry instead for those who never learn to do hard things.

  7. chanced upon the blog recently. loved the series. i learnt many of my spellings right after the advent of spell checkers 🙂

  8. It’s because written English was not created by someone with a master plan or common sense. Most spellings in English are evolved from words taken directly, spelling and all, from other languages. To make things worse, people were writing English for a long time with various spellings until the process of standardisation by chance and acceptance happened. This added some more randomness to English spelling. And to top the cake off with icing, idiots like Webster decided to deviate from established English spelling to make American English patriotic.

  9. English is a mixture of words from so many languages: Greek, Latin, French etc, no wonder our ‘spellings’ seem so illogical!

    I am a spelling and grammar nazi, and I loved this post. Truly it is more inspiring to be able to give people laughter, than perfect spelling and grammar – and I LIKE perfect spelling and grammar.

    Still laughing :)))

  10. PS You spelling and grammar critics out there should polish up on your *own* spelling and grammar before you post any more criticisms. I’m sorry, but I’m just about ROTFL, if you are trying to be serious!

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