2013-08-23 / Columnists

Slice of Life

Spelling Counts
By Beth Hanning

To use a cliché: If I had a nickel for every time I have heard as an English teacher, “Mrs. Hanning, does spelling count?” I would indeed be a millionaire. I always respond that spelling does not only count on the exam they are about to take, but it will also count in life. The statement that I have been telling my students is one they probably laugh about while discussing how crazy I was. They probably laugh because spelling is a lost art, one that I am so sad to see slip away from our society.

It started when the New York State Board of Regents started adding to the rubric that teachers cannot take points off state tests for spelling if “it does not hinder reading comprehension.” So, if you can read the misspelling it is okay!

Then, a few years ago, WPLJ radio started playing a game during the afternoon commute about menus at restaurants with misspellings. I could not believe that every day they played the deejays had sufficient menu items to mock.

I think one of the worst spelling days of my life was when I went to Walt Disney World and we were waiting for the Disney Bus when I read the following sign: “You must take a seperate bus to Magic Kingdom.” My heart sank in sadness. Didn’t everyone have a brilliant language arts teacher like I did? The late Miss McCullough repeatedly stated “There is A RAT in separate.” That was one of the many witty expressions she used to teach us spelling and grammar. Now the Walt Disney World Corporation is one of the biggest companies in the world and their sign maker does not have spell check?

I guess if Disney cannot get “separate” correct, what chance do I have of one of our parks, Riis Park, which is part of the National Park Service, accurately spelling the word “picnicking”? I know it looks wrong, but as soon as someone sent me a picture (see attached) from Riis Park I knew something was wrong so I Googled the correct spelling to make sure! Thirty seconds and I knew the sign was misspelled.

Even the major magazine Sports Illustrated had a misspelling in the August 19th issue, page 24. In the “Pop Culture Grid” Manny Pacquiao states his wife is the most famous person in his cell phone since she is the Vice Governor of a province in the Philippines. In the chart the word governor was spelled correctly. When the caption on the bottom discussed her position in more detail the word was spelled “governer.” I tweeted Sports Illustrated and did not receive a response.

Now I guess local stores that are creating signs it is just going to be “speller’s choice”? Since my friends and family know I am obsessed with spelling I recently received (I before E except after C) another picture from the local grocery store Pickles and Pies with a sign proclaiming they have “cajon fries.” What the heck are cajon fries? I know Cajun fries are spicy, but I may have to try this new seasoning.

A friend of mine has asked me to mention that a memorial mass will take place Saturday 8/24 at 11 a.m. at St. Camillus for Michael Brennan with lunch following at the Irish Circle. (Do not get me started on the errors on that menu.)

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