Rex's Rant: Spelling should still be taught in schools

Somehow I have become this amazing human dictionary and spellchecker. I'm not quite sure how or where it all started, but it is really beginning to bother me. I'm beginning to wonder if schools teach people how to spell anymore. At the least, people should know how to phonetically sound out words to derive their spellings.

Everyday, without fail someone will either call or walk into my office to ask me how to spell a word. Today's word was "interested." In case you don't know how to spell it, it is: I-N-T-E-R-E-S-T-E-D.

To me, "interested," seems to be a very simple word to spell, but given the shear amount of words I'm asked to spell, there are many more words I find simpler. The simplest word I have been asked the spelling of, is the word "of." It's spelled: O-F.

Some of the strangest words I've been asked to spell come from the phone calls I receive. A friend I hadn't talked to in quite some time called me up one day, just to say "You are the only person I know who'll know this. How do you spell Casbah?"

This raised a few questions, the first being "Why do you want to know?" The second being "How have you been?" The third question was "The song or the place?" He answered "the song."

The song, a favorite of mine (performed by the Clash) is "Rock the Casbah." So you have the C-A-S-B-A-H spelling. But there is the beautiful Mediterranean city of Kasbah, spelled K-A-S-B-A-H, located in Algeria. There is also the K-A-Z-B-A-H which is the Kazbah Fort Mahdia located in Tunisia.

I could understand if people started asking me for difficult words, or at least words you usually don't see or hear. An example would be "gelid," pronounced Gel-Id. It means extremely cold and icy. To give you a proper understanding of the word - Muncie is gelid in February.

I am not claiming to be a spelling bee champion or anything, nor am I claiming to be Noah Webster. But if there is a word I do not know how to spell, I know how to figure it out phonetically. I also know how to use a dictionary. I have developed an attitude with those around the office who constantly ask me how to spell something. I find I have to watch what I say around these people, as they constantly will point out something they feel I am pronouncing wrong.

The example of this is when I was telling a coworker about the movie "Croupier." I was pronouncing the title as croupier (kr 'p - r) as it was pronounced in the movie. I was immediately corrected by the "interested" coworker about how I said croupier. "It's French, and it's pronounced "croupier (kr 'p - ')." I had to spell it for him, and then we argued this point for close to 30 minutes, when he finally called me a name and stopped speaking to me.

For the purpose of writing this, I decided to look up the proper pronunciation of croupier and found that we were both correct. I made this point aware to the arguer only to get a hand gesture thrown back.

My purpose for using these examples is the same purpose as my being an ass to my coworkers - to get people to start using spell-checking software and dictionaries. Every week we get resumes faxed or mailed to us, and every week I notice a simple spelling mistake or misuse of a word that could have easily been corrected by pressing F7 on a PC. But don't just rely on the spell checker, actually learn how to spell the word. Otherwise Kazbah might become Kasbah, and if you are Rockin' the Casbah, it might confuse someone.

Write to Aaron at rantinrex@hotmail.com


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