Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Words, Words, Words...

Words. There are a lot of them.

Betty loves words. They tend to dance around in my head all day, and, as a sign of respect I attempt to spell them correctly whenever I can.

However, are certain words, though, that have refused to willing join Betty’s spelling posse and come into the corral peacefully. These are the words I have to stop and think about nearly every time I spell them. Them rascally rebels are words like “vacuum,” “personnel,” “definitely” and “restaurants.”

On the computer we have that suave and oh-so-seductive spell-check at our beck and call.

Spell-check has many correlations with a partner in a romantic relationship. It means well, and most of the time it is helpful but it can also be annoying as heck. (And I hate that it is right most of the time. However, sometimes I KNOW I am right and it still wants to have its say. Sometimes it just wants to change me and that ain’t right.)

(I threw that “ain’t” in there just to irritate it. It worked! It’s seeing red!)

As in most relationships, I want to avoid conflict, so I do my best to spell correctly the first time around. Sometimes, however, I just get lazy and let spell-check pick up after me.


Because of the way my brain works, I have developed various methods to help me with troublesome words and the words that a lot of my students have trouble with. For instance:

Separate has A RAT in the middle of it.

The Principal at the high school is a PAL. (As opposed to the other kind of principle.)

When I think of the word “vacuum,” I think of a married couple standing with the cleaning tool between them and pointing fingers. “You (U) do it.” “No, you (U) do it.”

I used to work at a place where I had two complete nut-jobs for bosses. I mean they were REALLY crazy nutty, so I remember that “Personnel” has two n’s (nuts) in honor of them.

I envision a bull reading his horoscope, strolling through Denny’s when I need to remember how to spell resTAURant.

See how Betty’s Brain works? Fascinating, aint’t it? (Got it again!)

I am still working on “definitely” and really have no idea why it gives me such fits. I always want to spell it with an –ately on the end.

As a teacher, here is what I tell my students: “Of course, use spell-check, but remember, it’s not always right. After you print it out, go back over it and check your work."

Here is what they hear: “Blah. Blah, Blah. Old Teacher Talk. Blah.”

As a result I often get papers, still warm from the printer with these kinds of sentences:

“For breakfast I had a delicious toasted beagle with cream cheese.”

“Human clowning is a serious issue in our society. Science and technology have advanced to the point that a woman can now have a clown of her own.”

“Then, after a few drinks, you can go sin on the pier.”

And here’s my favorite, from an essay written by a girl describing when she first met her boyfriend:

“As he walked by, I could smell his fragrant colon.”


Tell me, Betty Fans, what words give you fits when it comes to spelling? (You dun't evan hav two speell theem currectly en urr responce!)


*Extra Bonus Points for those who caught the Hamlet reference in the title of the post! You are my kind of nerds.

64 comments:

Anne Gallagher said...

Took me years to get definitely right. And even now I have to pause.

I'm pretty good with spelling unless they're words with two consonant's. Or are they.
reccommend
occassion
vaccuum

Seams Inspired said...

Must have been some kind of sniffer that girl had! LOL

I love words too, though, my spell-checker gripes me for the reasons you mentioned in your fabulous post. That's why I try to keep my Webster's Unabridged Dictionary nearby when writing. I look kinda ridiculous lugging it to the park. ;o)

Happy Wednesday! :o)

Old Kitty said...

My favourite one was a written request for the "Anals of Medicine".

LOL!!!

take care
x

Catherine said...

I am a horrible speller Betty ~ thank goodness for spellcheck. But even then, I still seem to make mistakes! Oh well!

Happy Wednesday!
xo Catherine

Tabor said...

I used to be a great speller, but with age my spelling has gotten worse! I do not mind gray hair, a wider middle, age spots...but spelling mistakes? Please. People think elderly are out of it enough already. I miss all the word that you do and then some. Missed the Hamlet reference and I took a whole class on Shakespeare in college...geese...cheese...jeeze!

Cricket said...

Heh, heh. One of my bugbears is "fulfill" (fulfil? fullfil? fullfill? Cripes!) "Millennium" kills me too. fortunately it doesn't come up too often ;-)

It may help to think that something "definite" is "finite"... de finare: from the limits. Maybe not. That is the sort of answer a math geek might give you, and just has.

Cool Gal said...

For me, it's "definitely." I even had to scroll up in your post to check. Hehehe...

I love the way your brain works. "Vacuum"...funny.

Ah, the students. The last sentence is a hoot. Perhaps it's what she really meant to say. After all, it is a man. Hehehe...

Have a great day, Betty!

Leah J. Utas said...

Love your mnemonics. Spell check annoys the hell out of me, but it is occasionally correct.

Nancy said...

Funny how our minds work, or don't work, I guess.

Racoon, vacuum and weird seem to give me the most trouble (I spelled them as I usually do -- they may be incorrect.)

And, Human Clowning is a serious issue. ;)

Hilary said...

I had trouble with definitely until recently when I finally got it down pat. Vacuum gave me trouble at one time too, but it wasn't the double U.. it was that I wanted to add a C or an E to the end. I tend to have trouble with recommend (I want to add a C). The one I never get right.. and always have to look up is "manoeuvre/maneuver" - the first being the Brit/Canadian usage.

welcome to my world of poetry said...

Loved the post, my spelling at some words are not too good so out comes the dictionary time and time again.

Yvonne.

Teresa Evangeline said...

Love words. Love dictionaries. The real ones. I play loose with punctuation, but never spelling, at least not on purpose. Love those toasted beagles.

Linda said...

Great post gain, BB. Thanks for the tip on remembering how to spell "vacuum." I think I'll remember that one. I was going to suggest "finite" as a way to remember "definite," but Cricket beat me to it. :)

Loved the examples from student papers. Your job must be fun sometimes.

Linda said...

Uh, that was supposed to be "again" in my first comment...not "gain." Doggone. Where's spell check when you need it?

Green Monkey said...

I've always been a terrible speller. Here is a quick, spelling related, funny clip on youtube

http://youtu.be/SReqQpsVGz0

EmptyNester said...

I love what the students hear! That was great!

My troublesome words are: occasion, occurred, commitment...which are spelled correctly here, I think, thanks to spell check. LOL

Desiree said...

Spelling correctly was drummed into us as kids and I have never really had a problem...until now, that is! I have to stop and check myself these days whereas in the past (youth) I never had to. Love your spelling tips. I'll share them with a friend of mine who teaches at a local high school. She is constantly complaining that kids of today do not know how to spell.

blueviolet said...

I don't think I have a particular word that causes me problems, but I have noticed that the auto correct on my phone changes my words to crazy things I had no intention of saying. I usually have to text people again with the proper wording!

Flartus said...

guarantee. Did I get it right??

Oh, you should enjoy the spelling and vocab mish-mashes I get when your "clowning" researchers try to write in French. Oh my! Knowing a second language sometimes helps me in English ("renaissance" is easy peasy for me), and sometimes hurts (is it "independAnce," or "independEnce"?) And don't get me started on the differences in punctuation rules!

Madi and Mom said...

MOL BB,
You have hit the nail on the head.
Vacuum and restaurant always get me along with ocassionally...or is it occasionally? Do you have a trick for remembering if there are two c's or two s's in it?
I like your trick on vacuum!!!

We definitely hope you have a wonderful day and we hope the personnel in the restaurant aren't vacuuming when you have lunch!!
Hugs madi and Mom

laughingmom said...

I can't spell at all - the words with double consonants are the ones that get me : occasion, broccoli, necessary, etc.

Donna said...

Y'all versus Ya'll....no, I'm Not Kidding!Hahaaa
hughugs

Susan in the Boonies said...

Oh, my gosh. There's nothing like the fragrance of a colon to catch a girl's fancy! LOL!!!!

I struggle with committment (see???). Commitment. But so many of us do. Heh heh.

Independence WANTS to be spelled independANCE, in my brain. I just think we ought to dance for joy in light of our independence.

Funny post, Betty!
Spell check is a fickle mistress.

Susan in the Boonies said...

P.S. Yesterday, Spell Check allowed my daughter to write a paper in which the minuets ticked by.

Apparently, time doesn't fly: it dances.

Brian said...

Those examples were too funny! At least it wasn't in text format!

Out on the prairie said...

I had a small book for my first comp class that had 10,000 of the worst words in it.Amazingily it had most I needed. It is funny how we use menomics to help and often remember who gave them to us.I have dictionaries on both sides of me at all times.

inkpuddle said...

Embarrassed (every.blessed.time!), occasion, guard (I always try to flip the a and the u for some odd reason) and occurred are my sticky words. No matter how hard I try to drill them into my thick head, they don't stay!

Liz said...

What about desert and dessert...you always want more dessert, so that means it's an extra "s"!

Eve said...

OMG...I try so hard to be a good speller, in the old days I had my dictionary constantly by my side and these days I spell check everything! I love your spelling hints! Very good and I hope I can remember them for when I don't have access to spell check...
Also, in defence of that writer...have you ever had a beagle toasted crispy? When the cream cheese is just slightly melty? lol! Thanks Betty..great post!

Dina @ 4 Lettre Words said...

I love grammar! This post certainly made me smile.

Barbara said...

Stationery / stationary ... one has an "e" like in letter. I mentally always pronounce restaurant as rest-a-u-rant. And separate was the only word I missed on a big test in high school many years ago...and I remember it well now! Two a's, two e's.

Ms. A said...

“As he walked by, I could smell his fragrant colon.” I'm having giggle fits over this one! Love it!

Lydia K said...

Receive is the bane of my word existence. I always have to say "i before e except after c".
Every time, darn it.

jenny_o said...

Embarrass. Spelled it wrong until college.

Wiener. Spelled it wrong until two years ago, and I'm, like, OLD. Not saying how old, but older than Betty. :)

Spell check is probably responsible for our newspapers being filled with errors of the homophone variety, like peak, peek and pique. If I read about someone having a fit of "peak" one more time ...!!

Theanne and Baron said...

I have this neat thing that underlines my incorrect spellings, in red, as I type the word. I rarely look anything up in my Webster anymore...I just look at the word, try the possibilities till the red underline disappears. Sometimes I'll look the word up online to check the spell checker! Words like "definitely" sometimes trip me up, because my enunciation has gotten sloppy and I say "difinately" instead of "defin~ite~ly. Missed the Hamlet thing!

Daisy said...

When one of my sons was much younger, he was having some troubles with spelling. I talked to his teacher about it, and she said she didn't think he needed to worry about it because as he got older, he'd be writing all his papers on a computer, and spell check would catch his errors!!! This answer did not make Daisy happy at all! I guess that was easier for her than actually having to teach him how to spell.

One word that has troubled me is the word "occasionally." I always have to stop and think how many "c's" and how many "s's" to include. :D

Ann said...

You named a couple of the ones that I have trouble with
definitely and restaurant both always make my brain freeze. I know there were a few others that I had trouble with all the time. Since starting my blog and repeatedly being corrected by spell check I've since learned to get them right.

Pat said...

This was great! I love your memory tricks! I used to be a great speller, but I found as I get older that simple words seem to stump me!

Gigi said...

Ahhh, a man with a fragrant colon gets to me every time.....NOT!

I don't trust spell-check - it's too sneaky for me.

Donea Lee said...

Oh, the sentences you must see!!! The fragrant colon is the best - TOO funny!

I've had trouble with parallel ever since it kicked me out of the running as Regional spelling bee champ in the 6th grade!!

I also used excessive earlier today, spelled correctly, but it looked wrong to me for some reason...

Theresa Milstein said...

Betty, we may be twins. Not only are a couple of our spelling demons the same, but our ways of tackling them are similar.

I also have a problem with village (want to put an i before the a) and guard. And a bunch of others, but I can't think of them right now. I'm a pretty good spelling, but there are about 10 I always have to think about.

citymouse said...

I love this! Even after years of teaching I am a lousy speller (though, I must admit I am better today than once upon a time). Restaurant gets me all the time, so thanks for the tip. Seems lately my other usual goof up is behavioral. (Don't ask me why.)

john said...

It's "Y'all"...

Mamma has spoken said...

There are way too many words to list! That's why there is always a dictionary on my desk. It's spine worn off to the point where it is now in three pieces.
I love spell check but what is annoying about it: explaining to nine and ten year olds that just because there isn't a red line under a word doesn't mean that you spelled it correctly.

faye said...

Wonderful post . My brain likes to
use shorthand ,so I usually have no
problem getting the gist of what was
written.... substituting the correct
spelling as it speeds along.

Anonymous said...

ummm, duh! of coarse eye cot the Hamlet referrance in ur title. I am plauged by the same words you are and then these little darlings, witch I consistantly miss pell, maybee frum my dislexeeya: the = hte, your = yoru, about = abotu.
pg.

Marlene said...

I tend to be anal about spelling. I can forgive "definitely" with an "a" instead of an "i".....but I HATE HATE HATE seeing "defiantly" in place of "definitely"! Grrrrr.

I'll go eat some chocolate now.

The Retired One said...

his "fragrant colon"...hahahaaa Gotta love it!

Georgina Dollface said...

You should totally market your ability to make up little stories about words that get misspelled. I loved the vacuum one! I'd pay good money for a trick to help me remember the correct spelling of 'occurrence', 'indispensable' and 'embarrass'. - G
PS. "fragrant colon"? Bwahahaha! Poor girl.

Lazarus said...

Betts, I lost in the finals (down to 2 of us) of my 8th grade spelling bee because I spelled raccoon with two "c's." Turns out, you can spell it with one or two "c's", either one is technically acceptable. Two days later, an episode of "The Honeymooners" aired with the "Raccoon Lodge" name showing on Ralph's bowling shirt. A bunch of kids came into class and demanded a run-off for me, but the teacher said it was too late, my opponent's name was already sent to the county for the championship. At least I got a story out of it that I could post here!

Peggy K said...

Are you tellin' me she couldn't smell his colon???

Occurrence does me in every time.

And that spell check just insists on correcting me before I can ever hit the backspace key! The NERVE!

Ren- Lady Of The Arts said...

Is it bad that when I think of Phoenix I think of a hoe?

Cake Betch said...

Hahahahahaha his fragrant COLON!?!? OMG. If I smell someone's colon I am probably not going to be interested in a date with this person.

Also - definitely gets me EVERY TIME.

Mrs.C said...

The last one, really, honest to goodness made me laugh, outloud. Poor girl!

The word that gives me most fits-
apparently. I always want to double the "r", but just now I made the note, to mentally say, A "pea" parent, to help me remember the double "p" and singular "r".

My trick for definitely, I pronounce it broken down, de- finite- ly, saying finite with the long i sound.

Munir said...

I used to be first place in spelling tests through sixth grade. We did not have spelling tests after that. Junior high, High school or even college. Now I am forgetting so many spellings that I am worried. Part of it is typing. sometimes one finger goes faster than the other LOL.

Retired English Teacher said...

I'd tell you, but I'd have to spell the words first. As a teacher, I think my ability to spell leaves me as soon as I go to write something on the board. I used to wish my white board was equipped with a spell check!

Shan said...

For some reason, almost without fail, I often type "expecially" instead of "especially," "Christ" or "Crhist" instead of "Chris" and "Ontarion" instead of "Ontario." My deep dark secret is revealed.

tracy said...

"Separate" is a big one. Thanks for the tip. I always remember that the "principal" is your "pal". (I don't know whose - or is it who's - school that kid attended.) Also, that print in your photo is really phine.

Brian (not the cat) said...

I seldom LOL, but I did just now at these great examples. I for one have always been an advocate of human clowning. I was always an impeccable speller as a youth, but it seems that as I grow older, words I haven't used in a long time will suddenly throw me for a loop -- -able or -ible? -ite or -ate? Those kinds of things. Kind of boring, I know. I resisted the spell checker for many years, but I've now accepted that there are times when I need its help. My favorite misuse of all times was from one of my sisters, who wrote that Queen Victoria sat on the thorn for sixty-one years. Ouch!

welcome to my world of poetry said...

Thank you Betty for popping by and leaving a lovely comment.

Happy Easter.
Yvonne.

Pat Tillett said...

I like spell check because I really suck at proff reeding.

Baby Sister said...

I didn't know I could have my own clown. That is just awesome!! I'm going to have to look into this. :)

I'm a pretty good speller, but ever since living in Spain...it semi-killed my English. I hate the word vacuum...I always want to write vaccuum or vaccum. And banana. For some reason, I always want more than just one n. I can't think of anything else at the monument. ;)

The Adorkable Ditz said...

OMG PEOPLE! Yeah definitely gives me a hard time and that last sentence with the colon. That is priceless.

Other words that I have a hard time with is tongue, comfortable, and another one that I can't think of at the moment.

Sara said...

1. I'm on a mission to convert all of the "grey" people to "gray" people. We need that A in there!

2. That might explain why I cannot come to grips with that last E in "lavender." Whyyyy doesn't it have an "-ar" at the end? It almost keeps me up at night, that one.