Thursday, May 30, 2013

The tryst with spelling

Spelling and grammar form the two pillars of any language.  The fact that there is a Scripps National Spelling Bee challenge to test the outrageous abilities of young kids only highlights the fact that the language with all its abbreviations and short cuts, still relies heavily on the correct spellings and pronunciations.  The advent of several portable devices has given rise to a situation where people think that the colloquial usage of certain words is now not an aberration, but the norm.

I do have a smartphone just like any other spoilt human being today.  I text people, though not as frequently as the teens of today.  The main usage of my smartphone is to guzzle news reports and feeds, and of course check my email and reply with not-so-long emails.  For the longer emails, I revert to my laptop with keyboard support.

I cringe when I see messages like this.

ill c u tmrw cos i m bz at prty tnite

got 2 do my wrk tday. can u snd me ur notes

There is absolutely no explanation to some of these words.  Why would anyone write tnite instead of tonight? The puritans would consider tonite to be unacceptable, but tnite! Less said the better.  Tonite feels blessed.

Why prty and not party? I mean what in the world is stopping the person from adding an extra letter in "a".  It's not like he is runing out of time.  If a person can type such messages, I am not sure if he is doing anything useful in his life.

Anyway, I am not that bad in spellings.  That's what I thought.

There is another extreme though.  The kids who take part in the Scripps Spelling Bee challenge every year can put the best of minds to shame.  For a lesser mortal like me, it's like getting whipped and thrashed, as I end up watching in awe and admiration at the talent that these young kids possess.  It's totally humbling.

My wife and I try to catch up on the Scripps Spelling Bee challenge every year.  We have our own games as the actual challenge unfolds.

I would say, "let me take a guess at this word", and give my version of the spelling.  The end result would be such that the difference would be like the distance between North Pole and South Pole.

My wife would guffaw, and point out why she did not even try the word in the first place.  Some words are so outlandish that you don't even have the heart to try the spelling.  There is no way you can get them right.

Even though Arvind Mahankuli, this year's winner got it right with K-N-A-I-D-E-L, it was the way he spelt this word that was spellbinding.


Wow! If he can get that, he can get anything.  To get each word right means so much preparation goes into it.  And I don't even want to talk about how I spelt that word.  It's more than embarrassing.  But then, at least, I tried.

Kids today are street smart.  They have instant access to everything.  Some of them know how best to use technology to their advantage, and not just while away their time on social networking websites.

Again, it's a humbling experience to see these kids excel without a trace of fear.  For me, as a kid, it took some time for me to realize that it was not "ruf".  The harder part was convincing the other kids of my age after I learnt the actual spelling.  Times have changed and so have a lot of other things.


  1. I think any decent spelling requires swipe keyboard and auto correct for me. May be if it ever comes to non android phones you will not see stupid spellings anymore.

    1. your phone will autocorrect "dehnstufe" for sure.

  2. smply amzng hw tdys kds uz tknlgy. totly agr wid u abt splng n grmr!
    lvd vistng nin'gl aftr lng tim


    1. thx'ng u 'ere a'ter a lng tme..k'p vztng :-)

    2. praveen,
      :) let's meet when u r in mvm.
      tk care