You can't misspell DUMBBELL and come out feeling good
(Please note: Instead of correcting the mistakes detected in this blog post, I'm bolding everything that the wordpress proofreader underlines. Believe me, it'll take all of my willpower to avoid correcting the errors, but I need to know if this exercise will result in rehabilitation or public shaming.)
"Of course I can spell -- I'm a goddamn journalist."
Those sound like famous last words, don't they?
Well, either way, it's what I said to myself before the phone-administered spelling test I took today (the second part of an interview process for a summer reporting job at the Star). In hindsight, the comment was a perfect example of delusionary self-aggrandizing.
Alright, I'm being somewhat melodramatic. I did okay (got about 70%) - but that's not the crappy part. What sucks is that (a) I thought I'd do really well and (b) I misspelled relatively simple words like "dumbbell" and "ingenious." (I know. I know.)
To be honest, I didn't even think to peruse the dictionary, nor did I google "commonly misspelled words." I figured the lexical litmus test would be both accurate and favourable. (<---But proofreader, I'm Canadian! We're in favour of the 'u'! )
Now, I kind of feel like a chef's apprentice who burned the souffle (<---phew! I was unsure about that one as I typed!)
The point: I guess I never really stopped to think about how much of my grammatical prowess is computer-generated.
Those squiggly red lines and check-marked buttons are trusted allies that I'm sure many of us take for granted. I frequently google things that I'm certain I'm messing up, but I don't worry because a friendly "Did you mean ...?" will link me to my properly-spelled destination.
Not too long ago, I started to hand-write a letter and then decided to type it up and print it out instead. Why? Because it's easier to click "accept change" than it is to track down that ancient substance called white-out. Also "does that look right?" is probably not something you should be asking yourself every three sentences.
(As you've probably noticed, this exercise isn't getting me anywhere. It is, after all, a self-administered test ... and I'm [sub]consciously shying away from things I can't spell.)
Well, I guess I can find solace in the fact that proofreaders aren't always helpful (See the blog: DAMN YOU, AUTO CORRECT!) and that I will be filing my stories on a trusty computer.
Still, if I ever get stranded on a remote island and I put my memoirs in a bottle for posterity, please have someone look them over -- lest I be remembered as a sub-par speller.
Fabiola Carletti is a former Toronto Star radio room reporter and graduate student at the UBC School of Journalism. Her digital footprints are all over the internet, but you can learn more about her by reading her blog, or chasing her around on twitter.
Photo Credit: Contemplating the dumbbells. Photo by Jen and Tony Bot on Flickr