Bad Spellers Of The World, Untie! Unite! And Then Blame Your DNA

Illustration for article titled Bad Spellers Of The World, Untie! Unite! And Then Blame Your DNA

We all have our trap words: for some, it's "immediately," for others, "definitely," and for yours truly, as some of you may have seen before I've jumped back into the editing tool to fix it, the word "judgment" is a tricky one, as well. Even the best spellers get tripped up sometimes, and even exceptionally intelligent people have difficulty putting letters in the right order once in a while. Some of the smartest people on earth were also horrendous spellers: Mark Twain, whose spelling was often criticized, once said, "I don't think much of a man that can spell a word only one way!" So what's behind poor spelling? According to an article published in today's Times, researchers at Oxford University believe that "that our ability to spell lies partly in our DNA."John Stein, a professor of neuroscience at Oxford, explains the connection this way: “[The written word] was invented only 5,000 years ago. It is piggybacked on to our linguistic ability, which was invented 30,000-40,000 years ago,” he says. “The consequence is that many people fail to read or spell.” Stein argues that our brains are still trying to figure out how to process written words, and that some of us have a gene that makes this process even more difficult. Our ability to spell is also linked to our learning style: those with phonetic learning abilities may find it easier to spell a word after they hear it, while those with a visual learning style may need to see the word before attempting to write it out. According to a study at Dartmouth University, the phonetic learners have a much better chance of spelling a word correctly. “Take the word Tegwop," Professor Stein explains, "it's a non-word, but if you use phonology more than visual factors, you can spell it by translating the word into sounds. If you are a visual person, and have never seen that word written on the page, then you'd have problems spelling it.” Professor Stein also warns that our reliance on texting may make it even more difficult for our brains to process the written word, as people may lean toward spelling words out the way they text them (as someone who yells OMG on a purely joking basis at times, this kind of freaked me out a little bit.) There is good news, however: poor spellers of the world can up their chances of spelling correctly by doing mental exercises and playing word games such as Scrabble, Boggle, and Hangman. Good nutrition and sleep patterns are also seen as keys to good spelling, as they aid in concentration and focus. I don't know about you guys, but I am definitaly definetely definitely going to give it a try. Bad At Spelling? It Could Be Your Genes [Times Online]

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DISCUSSION

My spelling has completely deteriorated in the past few years. I never knew that you could right-click on a misspelled word in Microsoft Office. Spell check was too much of an effort so I would just retype it until I got it right. Then I saw people right-click and now that I use it I have noticed my spelling abilities plummet. Before that I was an awesome speller so I am trying to break myself of the habit and get back to correcting myself.

My pronunciation is bad though since I learned the majority of my vocabulary from reading, where I had to decide for myself how to say the word.