Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Look It Up!

Somehow (actually I know "how"; it's because I try to be helpful when I first arrive on the scene) I always become the walking dictionary in our offices. "Jeff, how do you spell _____?", "What does ________ mean, Jeff?" or "Am I using this word correctly in this sentence, Jeff?"

I've got to learn to keep my mouth shut AND beat back my small obsession with correct spelling and grammar by NOT pointing out errors. It's getting a little easier as I get older, but it's a difficult obsession to overcome. UPDATE: I saw TWO mistakes this afternoon and didn't say anything about either one!

"...however, sense the period of time between Thanksgiving and the Christmas holidays is only 21 days..."

"For many of us this information is a mute point."

Look, it's not like I'm a genius and that I have the biggest brain in existence, in fact that is far from it; it's simply that at some point in the past I LOOKED IT UP or, if I don't know the answer off the top of my head when I'm asked then I LOOK IT UP. These days, with information at your fingertips on the Internet, it's easier than ever.

When I was a kid (oh no, one of those "In my day" stories!) I had to use actual printed and bound dictionaries or encyclopedias to find my answers. I remember when I was a child that some friends of my parents were astounded because, in the course of reading a book while visiting their house, I asked if they had a dictionary I could borrow. When the hostess asked me why and I explained that I had come across a word in the book I was reading that I did not know the meaning of and so I wanted to look it up, you would have thought I had sprouted another head or began reciting Einstein's Theory of relativity... in French. She was completely dumbfounded by the thought that a child would willingly want to educate himself. My biggest concern was that I wasn't at home where I knew I had a dictionary on my shelf; I was afraid they might not have one I could use and I'd be ignorant about that word until I arrived back home. Fortunately, they did.

But my point is that today, you can walk up to any Internet accessible computer and look up the answer you need in seconds. You say,"How can I look up a word I don't know how to spell?" but even if you misspell the word, Google and and most other search engine or information sites will give you several variations of correctly spelled words to help you narrow down your search.

So, look it up. It's easy as pi. Errr...pie.


AnnMarie said...

Ah I remember those days well. You know, the ones where you made ME 'Look it up'? LOL but yeah, I am the same and I guess you're why!

Michelle said...

I think part of the problem is these people don't even realize they're not spelling it correctly.

I've noticed since the advent of all this standardized testing (a la Florida's FCATs) a lot of kids and twenty-something's have no concept of homonyms and other grammatical idiosyncrasies. They simply go phonetic with everything.

A vast majority also expect spell check on their computers to catch everything. Laziness or ignorance, you can pick, but the end result is the same.

Take for instance my half-brother who is doing a math major and French minor in college. He's on the Dean's List for math and he can transcribe 17th century French novels. But when proofreading his paper for Anthropology, found so many spelling and punctuation errors that I couldn't even get through a paragraph without correcting something. So since he's obviously not stupid, how do I account for all of the errors? I have no answer.

But I do agree with you that it is downright annoying to me, as well.

Cindy said... I will disagree with you here. If you do not spell the word very close even spell check won't help you out. I speak from experience. Some people really have a hard time with spelling and grammar, your wife is one of them. You should cut them a break and help them out. Really do you think people like to ask how to spell something? I feel stupid every time I have to ask someone.

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