“That is okay sir,” he said happily, relieved that I was not trying to squeeze my way into his ‘famly’. “Secondly,” I said, “Frens Chicken Shop next to which the wedding hall is located should have had an i and a d in it. It should have been ‘friends’.” “This is easier sir, nobody would have understood your spelling,” he said and dismissed my helpfulness.
My driver would have certainly agreed with the words of linguists Otto Jesperson and Mario Pei, who said that “Spelling is a pseudo-historic and anti-educational abomination and the worlds most awesome mess..!” Well, a number of famous people through history struggled to get out of the spelling mess and made a bigger mess trying to do so. Milton spelt dog with two g’s. Queen Victoria was very particular but sometimes went into ‘extacies’ and often found things ‘schocking’ and ‘bewhildering.’
The two writers Ernest Hemingway and Scott Fitzgerald never got along well with each other and the daughter of Fitzgerald wrote ‘that one reason Hemingway became so exasperated with him was that daddy never got his name right.’ Fitzgerald tended to spell Hemingway either’Hemmingway’ or Hemminway and even spelt Ernest as Earnest..! Poor Ernest Hemminway, he must have climbed the wall whenever he saw correspondence from Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald continued his marvellous writing with his misspelt words and when his first novel was published, the New York Tribune had a competition and gave a prize to the reader who spotted the largest number of errors. A Harvard scholar won with a list totalling over a hundred. Among his favourite words were ect instead of etc. apon instead of upon and definate in place of definite..!
Misspelling has been the source of some embarrassments too, especially the one in which, because of economic conditions a famous English school was obliged to raise its tuition fees. A letter was sent to all the parents stating that the increase would be five hundred pounds per annum. Unfortunately some clerk in the school office spelt annum as anum. An angry parent wrote to the headmaster of the school, thanking him for the notification but said, “For my part I would prefer to continue paying through the nose and not through my anum as suggested by you..!”
Thank God for spellcheck. With a click of the mouse the computer corrects all the mistakes we make. Or so we think. I remember an instance when the computer did a Fitzgerald. I had written a play on the famous Roman governor Pontius Pilate and after the same was enacted, I read a review about the play in a local magazine. The writer however, consistently referred to Pilate as Pilot.The editor profusely apologised and told me that a computer operator in his office had run a spellcheck through the article and helped Pilate get his wings..!
So, who am I to argue with my driver, putting I back in his famly or confusing the wedding guests, changing Frens Chicken Shop?