I Heart Indies

Sunday, October 28, 2012

How to Spell

The personal computer and related devices, for all the undoubted benefits they confer upon society, have made us abysmal spellers.  As a professional writer - last year alone, I earned a whopping $7.45 for my prose: ka-ching! - I am approached daily by people who want to know, is "happy face" spelled :-) or (-: and how do you spell "kiss," which admittedly is tricky because the circumflex in ":^ *" is silent.
Here then, is a quick review of basic spelling rules.

I Before E.  This is the classic that everyone knows.  It's easy to apply and will never steer you wrong, except in a few cases like neighbor and weigh.  And weird.  And their.  And Keith.  And Weiners, as in Nu-Way Weiners in Macon, Georgia.  (Parenthetically, everyone makes a big deal about the misspelling of "weiner," but the far more egregious error is "nu.")

Red Sky at Night, Sailor's Delight.  Red Sky at Morning, Sailors Take Warning.  This is not technically a spelling rule, but it's good advice for anyone who hangs around sailors.  I'm not sure which would make more me more apprehensive, a sailor in the morning who'd recently been warned, or a sailor at night who was delighted.  Both of them seem risky, if you ask me.

When Pluralizing Words Ending in -Y, drop the Y and change to -IES, except in the case of words where the Y is preceded by a vowel such as -EY unless it's -QUY in Which Case It Does Change to -IES.  Honestly, this is so simple you wonder how anyone could get it mixed up.

You can remember the spelling of Mississippi, by Reciting, "Em, Eye, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, Eye, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, Eye, Pee, Pee, Eye.  This isn't that much of a rule, and it won't help you spell Massachussetts, Massachussets Massachusets Missouri, but we used it in third grade to get Mrs. Turner to say "pee-pee" in class.  That was hilarious in those days.

Anyway, by mastering these few simple rules, you can write a sentence like, "Shakespeare wrote soliloquies eating Nu-Way Weiners in Mississippi," with perfect confidence.  I wish I had time to share more, but a man just strode in the door.  He has a wooden leg, a hook for one hand, an eye patch, and a parrot on his shoulder.  He also has a tricorn hat, and if I'm not mistaken, he just said, "Arrr."  I have to go out and check the sky.

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