The Office Dictionary

That would be me. I’m a good speller. Always have been – it’s a natural instinct for me. It’s very rare that I’ll spell a word wrong, though it does happen on occasion. It’s something that my colleagues all picked up on very early in my career at the day job. I can guarantee that at least 4 or 5 times a day, someone will ask me to spell a word. I can rattle it off without even looking up. I admit it’s something I am proud of.  I can usually give you the definition in some form, and a few other words that might work in their place, as well. There are advantages to being a word person, as opposed to being a numbers person. Ask me how to spell and/or use a word, no problem! Just don’t ask me to add more than 2 and 2 without a calculator!
I love it when they ask me to spell a word, and I tell them, and then they ask “Are you sure?” My reply was usually, “Do a spell check, you’ll see!”  It’s happened more than once, and my response is now condensed to a withering stare. It’s enough.
Anyway, because I am picky about words being spelled correctly (perhaps because I’ve always had a name difficult to spell and/or pronounce), I notice it when other people don’t spell the words right. Guaranteed to make me cringe – especially when people mix up there, their and they’re, or to, two and too, and others. What I’ve noticed lately is that it seems to have gotten worse. It’s most noticeable in handwritten notes.  And thanks to a conversation with a co-worker, I know why.
Spell check. My very response to someone questioning my spelling skills. I pointed out a misspelled word and the response was “I didn’t have spell check on my pen.”
It’s true – people can be lazy and let their word processors do the work. Now I understand there are people that need spell check, or they’d never even spell “the” correctly. But people run a spell check and automatically accept the change, without bothering to see which way is the right way to spell a word, or even if the corrected version being suggested is the right word. So when writing a note by hand, though it’s rare these days, it’s often riddled with spelling errors. Because the author never bothered to learn the correct spelling. That’s what annoys me – spell check is there for a reason (though I still haven’t been able to get the stupid French dictionary to turn off on a few of my documents, so it appears those files are full of errors). Spell-check is supposed to be a back-up. Not the answer. And sometimes, a typo is actually a real word, but it’s the wrong word, and can throw the context of your entire message off.
Of course, our culture of “text speak” doesn’t help either. I received an email from a salesperson at one of my distributors that literally read “Can u pls chek stock 4 me?” Seriously. In a business letter (never mind that isn’t even my job function anyway). I was horrified.
Text speak and abbreviations have their place – text messages, Twitter, and the like. I use those abbreviations in those places, just because of size limitations. Those tasks require the use of creatively spelled and used words. Not business communication. Ever. It doesn’t happen often, but enough that truly alarms me. When did it become acceptable for all communication to devolve into this? I think one of the basics taught in school now need to focus on this very issue – and emphasize the proper place and time to use this new version of our language.
But maybe it’s just me.
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