Sunday, July 29, 2018

Spelling Matters

I can understand how non-English speaking people would have a hard time learning my language, particularly the spelling. It’s a bit tricky with the different pronunciation of vowels and letter combinations. Years ago for a high school writing assignment, one of my classmates composed a satirical commentary titled “I Hāt English.” It described how our language has so many rules like “I before E except after C.”

Nevertheless, as a writer, I tend to quickly notice spelling and grammatical errors. Often I see people write “to” when “too” should be used, “weather” for “whether”, “there” instead of “their”, and “loose” in place of “lose” (or the other way around). I don’t mean to be critical but it surprises me to see a large number of online writing errors despite the many computer apps available to detect and fix typos.

One of my Facebook friends recently posted something about “Tammy Baker.” I’ve often seen Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker’s last name misspelled. Baker is the more common spelling of that name. However, I thought it was contradictory (and even humorous) that my friend proclaimed “I am a Prophet with 100% accuracy” but didn't spell a well-known minister’s name correctly. I remarked about that on his wall and he briefly unfriended me, misinterpreting my comment as hateful. Eventually, we reconciled.

I find it hypocritical when heresy hunters nitpick ministers for (in their opinion) incorrect doctrine and yet don’t even pronounce certain minister’s names correctly. Joyce Meyer is often referred to as “Meyers.” Her publications and website clearly show there is no “s” at the end of her last name. (On a related note, the last book of the Bible is referred to by many as “Revelations”, even though every translation I’ve seen calls it “Revelation.”)

How do you think Jesus would feel if one misspelled His name as “Jeesus” or “Jezus”? Perhaps it wouldn’t bother Him but I would find that disrespectful. Occasionally, people misspell my first name as “Tod”, even though that name is almost always spelled “Todd.”

All of us make mistakes. Still, we should be teachable and thankful when someone points out (in love) where we missed it. I welcome correction as I don’t want any of my messages to mislead people or have typos that make me appear less intelligent. One time I posted a YouTube video mistakenly titled “The Sermon of the Saugages.” A pastor who appeared in that video pointed out my spelling error. I uploaded that video again with the corrected spelling of “sausages.” 

Some spelling mistakes may be harmless and funny but others can create confusion. In extreme cases, they can cost millions in missed sales and job opportunities plus have the potential to ruin relationships due to misunderstandings. 

I once read a story about a man who left the snow-filled streets of Chicago for a vacation in Florida. His wife was on a business trip and planned to meet him there the next day. When he reached his hotel, he decided to send his wife a quick e-mail. Unable to find the scrap of paper on which he had written her e-mail address, he did his best to type it in from memory. Unfortunately, he missed one letter, and his note was directed instead to an elderly preacher's wife, whose husband had passed away the day before. When the grieving widow checked her e-mail, she let out a piercing scream and fell to the floor in a dead faint. Her family rushed into the room and saw this note on the screen: “Dearest Wife, Just got checked in. Everything prepared for your arrival tomorrow. P. S. Sure is hot down here!”

Proverbs 18:9 says, “He who is slothful in his work is a brother to him who is a great destroyer.” God wants us to have a spirit of excellence in everything we do. That includes the notes and emails we write to others. Just as we need to be watchful with the words we speak, we should also be watchful with the words we write. 

“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” - Colossians 3:17

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