There's More Behind That Typo : Blog Of The Nation There are good and bad spellers in the world but there might be some reasoning behind these characteristics. Some are more creative, others think of words as formulas, TOTN intern, Kirstin Garriss, shares her take on typos and spelling.
NPR logo There's More Behind That Typo

There's More Behind That Typo

Spelling abilities — or a lack of — could be connected to how creative you are. hide caption

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Spelling abilities — or a lack of — could be connected to how creative you are.

In my 22 years of living, I've come to realize that I'm not the best speller. If you look back at my childhood, I never entered any spelling bees and I passed my University's infamous Spelling & Grammar test after a week of isolation and studying. I'm also one of those writers who will sometimes think one thing and then write another or forget to include necessary words in a sentence and then proceed to read them in myself.

Thankfully, spell check is my best friend and I'm open about my weakness. In our morning meetings here at TOTN, it's no secret that my spelling abilities are sometimes... well, you could say a little bit off. And I accept that, but now, there's proof that I'm not the only one who's "spelling challenged."

In a recent opinion piece by Virginia Heffernan in The New York Times, The Price of Typos, Heffernan sheds light on the reasoning behind bad and good spellers. She explains that people who are bad spellers think of words as concepts and tend to be more creative thinkers. People who are good spellers think of words as formulas and tend to be less creative. Now, is this the norm for everyone in the world? Probably not. But at least I've found my place in spelling society – I'm a creative thinker who will always carry a dictionary by her side.

Another interesting point Heffernan addressed was the changes in the edit process. Back in the day, people actually proofread their work before sending it to editors. Now, our society is all about get it done and get it done quickly. Therefore, the proofreading step is not always done and there are more typos. In her piece she quotes Craig Silverman, a Canadian journalist who has a book and a website dedicated to corrections:

We seem to keep removing steps that involve editing and checking and don't bother to think about how we replace them with something better," he told [Heffernan]... He [also] praised the "wonderfully human experience of being wrong.

At least you know that the next time you see a mistake or a misspelled word, it might not be a lazy writer but a really creative one who's more excited about the story than the words being used to make it.