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Misspelled Words

The question is often asked, "Why do I need to know how to spell?" Well, the question is frequently asked by grade-schoolers. Perhaps most importantly, misspelled words can be a major distraction to the reader. Stumbling over a misspelled word, the reader immediately stops thinking about the article or book being read and wonders how a misspelled word seeped its way into the document. The reader questions the writer's ability as well as his command of his subject.

Another reason spelling is important is for the sake of uniformity. If everyone spelled any which way, it would not take long before dialect and idiom and colloquialism would come to make it difficult for people from different regions or ethnic backgrounds to read communications from each other. Writing and reading, would no longer be a way to convey information, but a way to distinguish between people - a divisive rather than unifying factor.

In a January 2007 edition of the Wall Street Journal a list of the 10 most commonly misspelled words by journalists was presented. One wonders how the spelling errors escaped the spell-checkers heavily relied upon by most writers.

By far the most commonly dispelled word was "judgment". Presumably it was spelled as it sounds, "judgement". Perhaps it is so commonly misspelled in the press because it is so commonly used. Words tend to go through cycles of popularity. Strangely enough, in an age of moral relativity there seems to be a whole lot of judgmentalism going on.

"Lightning" is next on the list. This seems to be because the word is typically pronounced "lightening". Indeed, there is such a word as lightening - but it means making lighter, rather than the electrical phenomena we are so familiar with. This is one of those words that could easily slide by the spell checker because of the homonyms relationship between the two words.

"Millennium" is another of those words that is cyclical and frequently used now that we are near one of those milestones of the calendar. It is just plain hard to spell because the pair of double-lettered consonants is unexpected.

"Calendar" is another word with a homonyms, "colander". Also, most people pronounce it with an ending "-er" sound. The remaining six top dispelled words are interesting in their own right and are as follows, "cemetery, accommodate, collectible, receive, committed, separate."


Articles About English Grammar
Analysis of the second verse of the Battle Hymn of the Republic

W.J. Rayment, the author of this article frequently misspells, "occurred", "opponent", and "referred".

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