Spelling and Learning Disabilities

Once upon a time I was an opinionated copyeditor who didn’t understand why people couldn’t fucking capitalize “i” in a sentence or how Ph.D.s couldn’t figure out whether to use “their” or “there.” Then I went to work in a college tutoring center. There I met perfectly intelligent kids who wrote “our” when they meant “are.” (It’s a particular kind of processing issue. And it is one I am prone to myself when I’m tired.)

There were returning nontraditional undergraduates who thought they could never go to college because when they were taking notes it took all their concentration to write their “b”s and “d”s correctly. I worked for one day unable to use my “e” or “d” keys. Typing a simple sentence was a lot of effort. It got in the way of my editorial/thinking work. How fast or well would you write if you had to concentrate that hard just on getting the words down?

And so when I see a meme, where a guy wrote “no frise, sorry” on the door of a fast food place, and someone types “And this guy wants $15 an hour,” I get a little pissy. Dyslexia is not stupidity. The guy is not paid to write signs. And if we were paid to write well, I would be a hell of a lot more wealthy. And why the fuck shouldn’t the guy who has to deal with people and greasy hamburgers all day not make living wage? (I just typed that “wave”; go ahead, judge me.)

This is why I don’t judge you when you mistype something in comments or in an email.* (*Also, one of my oldest friends, the one who goes to camp over the summer to speak Latin, spells my last name wrong still, even though we’ve been friends since high school.) Spelling, grammar, and style are things I notice and can fix. Other people can notice and fix problems with my car or my furnace condensing boiler (see?). And thank god for that. Because if you saw the way I cross-threaded screws or screw tops every single time you would laugh.

I’m judging the judgers today. Who are you judging?


4 responses to “Spelling and Learning Disabilities

  1. This is a fine post. I did get that “frise” meme recently from a Facebook “friend.” Bugged me too. (And the guy who sent it to me has terrible grammar.)

    I realize the place for spelling and grammar in communication, but the fact that everyone knew exactly what the sign meant (despite the “error” in it) tells me that communication can take place despite the “rules.”

    i was going to respond to my friend’s meme post but knew it was a no-win arrangement. The haters would just pile on.

  2. Yesterday, I judged a lot of people who use the body size of strangers (any body size) as a complete, visual medical report, even though neither are any of their business.

    (I just looked up that ‘d’ in judged . . .)

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