Spell check on computers has a lot to answer for apparently, with so many adults not being able to spell simple words but how about the influence of texting and Twitter on the youth of today? Surely that’s an even more serious problem.
We are an auto-correct generation. What does that mean?
Apparently our reliance on spell checkers on computers now means a lot of adults cannot spell the simplest of words.
A survey was carried out by charity Mencap ahead of their Spellathon Championships next week which found that around a third of the 2,000 adults polled could not spell definitely, a third could not pick the correct spelling of separate from a list and two thirds could not spell necessary.
The same group of people were also asked questions about their reliance on spell check and only 18 per cent said they used spell check all the time and 21 per cent, that they used spell check most of the time.
What was most surprising was that 76 per cent of the 2,000 people polled thought they were good spellers and 96 per cent thought spelling was important.
So what can we conclude from this. Certainly people are a little deluded about how good they are at spelling and they are also perhaps not completely honest about how often they use spell check. I would have thought almost all the 2,000 questioned would have used spell check most of the time.
In this technological age, most of our writing is done on computers and running a spell check over our work is just second nature.
Having worked in the newspaper industry, I know it would frustrate editors no end if they received articles in which had blatantly not been spell checked. It has become an accepted thing to do and the attitude is you are becoming lax if you have not used it.
At the same time there are so many errors that spell check cannot catch, such as the wrong use of there or the difference between effect and affect.
It is however, the words that the Mencap survey picked up on – necessary, definitely and separate – that so many people are unable to spell because it is these very words that are being picked up on by the spell check.
People are simply clicking on the auto-correct button without really taking in how it should have been spelt in the first place.
It isn’t the case that spelling is not being taught in schools. So many schools still have regular spelling tests. It is just that like trigonometry and long division in maths, as adults we forget how to do it as well as we did at school – we forget the rules and over time we get lazy about it and it starts not to matter.
There is a difference though between not being able to spell these commonly miss-spelt words and being poor at spelling generally and this has a lot to do, in my opinion with text speak and the likes of Twitter where whole sentences have to be crunched down into snatched words, which in their turn become abbreviated to just a few consonants. This way of spelling very easily starts creeping into school work until ‘you are’ is never again ‘you’re’ but’ your’ and ‘thanks’ is ‘thx’. No thanks is what I say to that.
As adults we do need to be mindful of our spelling to set a good example to the younger generation who have even more bad influences on them. In the near future the inability to spell necessary could prove only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to literacy problems.