Sunday, March 02, 2008

The Art of Misspelling

I am a creative speller. That is to say that the juxtaposition of letters to represent certain words found in the English lexicon is a haphazard exercise with me. Computers have helped over the years but my creativity can be beyond even their abilities to reason and deduce.

In my youth I hated elementary school spelling bees. They were my personal torment. If the DHS was intelligent they would eschew waterboarding for my visit to Gitmo. With my allergy issues I would find pouring water up my nostrils a meditative experience. However, if they stood me up under bright lights and asked me to spell words like bougainvillea and onomatopoeia I would crack in mere moments.

Consider the word schizophrenic. If you had put a thousand pre-Bush dollars in my hands and said they were mine if I spelled that word correctly - one shot - I would just hand the money back. I know the word, can use it in a sentence, I even know the difference between schizophrenic and Multiple Personality Disorder. But, spell it? I can't even get close enough to give my computer a fighting chance to figure out the word I'm looking for.

There is, however, a virtue to this spelling handicap of mine. I have built a marvelously vocabulary of alternatives to words I can't spell. Like Porky Pig in those Warner Brothers cartoons, when my mind stutters over spelling a word I can always come up with a synonym. Often, the synonym is the better word for the occasion than they one my mind is misfiring over.

So, you will never see me criticize someone for their spelling. Even Dan Quayle of potatoe fame got a free pass from me. I feel their pain. Correct spelling is an overrated skill. I have no truck for people who can spell syllepsis correctly but don't know the difference between war and peace. I have no respect for people who can rattle off penurious without a hiccup but think $6 an hour is a living wage.

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