Tuesday, 22 May 2012

#258: Spell? Check!

If you are a woman over 65, I have good news for you:  You are a superior speller.

This tidbit was offered to me last night as I lay awake listening to the BBC World Service on the radio.  I did not hear the entire item (That is the trouble with listening to the radio while half asleep --you only hear half the program.) but I got enough to gather that research in the UK has revealed a national spelling emergency.  I heard this demonstrated as Brits-in-the-street attempted the spelling of  neccessary  necesary nessessery  necessary. Only about half got it right, and the ones who did were female retirees.

Blame it all on spell check. The younger crowd, especially 18 - 25 year old males, are according to the study, the worst spellers and the most likely to trust spell check or worse yet, auto-correct.  They blithely assume, I suppose, that these programs know exactly what they intend to say and can say it better.

I am not surprised that older women are decent spellers.  We use spell-check but treat it as a partner, not the boss, and we probably went to school at a time when spelling was part of the curriculum. And we may have worked in careers that expected good spelling.

But what about men over 65?  The BBC program didn't say, or if it did, I was asleep.  But my guess is that older men fall somewhere in the middle.  I can't help but recall the retired guys who came into the library and avoided using the computer catalogue because they couldn't type. "My secretary did all that for me", they would explain.

I bet she was a great speller.       

1 comment:

  1. I used to be so proud of my excellent spelling but then I taught phonetics as part of a linguistics course at VUW. My spelling had not deteriorated while i learnt phonetics, but whilst I taught it, and for some time after, I could no longer rely on it. Nowadays, I believe I have reacquired some of my spelling skills but have had to be more humble, though I still don't use spell-check.