This Post is About Spelling

For the next Presidential election cycle, I propose that one of the debates be a spelling bee. Instead of the moderator asking a question, they give one candidate a word to spell. If they spell it incorrectly, the other candidate gets a chance to spell the word. Then they get a new word to spell, and so on, until they’ve fill an hour.

Unlike a traditional debate, there will be an objective baseline to judge who won and who lost.

To make it more interesting, the words should all relate to the pressing issues of the day. People, places, and concepts. Countries and their capitals. World leaders. That kind of stuff. Throw in some Latin for legal precedents, some relevant scientific jargon, and maybe some anatomical terms because, you know, health care and reproduction.

I know, a lot of people won’t care whether the presumptive leader of the free world can spell. A few will take it as a badge of honor, sticking it to the educated elitists. Personally, I just look forward to having someone who can at least use spell check, or having someone else proof a tweet before hitting send. It’s a low bar, I know, but that’s where I’m at right now.

3 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I was amazed to read an online article by a professional journal that used the phrase ‘should of’ instead of ‘should’ve’ which would be regarded as a poor substitute for ‘should have’. Perhaps not spelling, but having been through journalism courses years ago, the decline of standards brought about by the internet is shocking.

  2. Don’t even get me started. I would have been crucified in university if I tried to hand in work containing some of the language I see on “news” sites. I’m on the verge of a stroke every time I hear someone say “supposably”.

  3. Teaching computer science, students grumble that I am harder on them for mistakes in spelling, punctuation and grammar than English teachers. I point out that they have to communicate not only with other human beings (who need to understand what the resident geek is saying) but with computers – which cannot guess at the meaning of an instruction. I may be able to guess, from context, that a student intended to say ‘customer’ when they have written ‘costumer’ but a computer cannot. If you are coding, a single } or ; out of place can mean the difference between a program that works and one which doesn’t run or, even worse, does the unexpected!

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