The ability to spot spelling and grammatical errors is both a blessing and a curse. It’s helpful at work when you are asked to proof someone’s report but it can drive your partner crazy. My husband is still annoyed at me for correcting his spelling in a poem that he wrote for me forty years ago and I’m still sorry that I didn’t restrain myself. It was a stupid and unnecessary thing to do and I still regret it.
I have managed to stop myself from correcting the shopping list as there’s really no point and it doesn’t really matter.
I share this skill/curse with other members of my family, all of whom find it difficult not to comment on errors on signs in public places, for example on menus and the like.
But no-one really appreciates being corrected, and who want to be a grammar nazi? Not me.
On the other hand, spelling can matter a lot in a professional environment. This week I signed up to become an member of an organisation for evaluation professionals and I was surprised to see quite an obvious error in their sign-up form.
It made me pause and think about whether I wanted to join an organisation that could let such an obvious mistake slip through until I realised that the people running the organisation probably never see their sign-up form because they are already members.
If you’re thinking that I should just discreetly get in touch with them so that they can fix it, you are right and I probably will, but it did make me think about how much we judge people by their writing skills.
I’m currently working with a very nice person who has English as his second language. He often asks me to double check that his syntax is correct and that any colloquialisms have been used correctly. I commented the other day that his writing sometimes contains some linguistic oddities which I find charming, but he said that some people don’t find it charming, they just see it as wrong. I guess he’s right, but in reality his writing is almost perfect. Better than most of the things that come across my desk.
Another thing I try to keep in mind is that everyone makes mistakes and that includes me. I was reading a note I wrote for my mother’s funeral the other day and I realised that I had misspelt my sister’s name. Sorry about that Beverley.
It’s never a good idea to be too high and mighty about these things, lest you be hoist on your own petard (thank you Mr Shakespeare for that lovely saying). And God bless whoever (or should that be whomever?) invented spell check.