In one of my favorite websites, Regret the Error, there is a lengthy column about how copy-editing errors take place, in this case, the Washington Post, and what to do about it. One quote from the Post: “Mistakes occur more frequently online than in print, generally, because online copy goes through fewer editors…But online errors are easier and faster to correct.”
I am a rather good speller. I remember that I was so proud to get 100 in my 5th-grade spelling final. Though I was no good at spelling bees; I need to write it down in order to ascertain that it looks wrong. But spellcheck has made me lazy. Add to that the fact that I’m a lousy typist and one will discover typos in this blog.
This used to pain me greatly, and still bugs me. Some mornings, I reread my blog, and only then do I see my egregious error. Generally, it’s a word that is a homonym. I DO know the difference between here and here, I really do. Or I’m distracted and leave off a repeated letter or series of letters, such as Missippi for Mississippi.
There are words I tend to check, such as words ending in ible and able, or ance and ence. I remember a rare time watching a show called Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader, and I recall that the ‘1st-grade word’ was allegiance; does it have 2 or 3 Es? Having a second-grader, I don’t think it’s a first-grade word at all.
Some words I have tricks for spelling. For instance, facetious I know has the five vowels, in order (and six, if one adds the -ly). Still, I pronounce it wrong in my mind: FACE tee us, rather than fah SEE shus.
There are some bloggers who are generally good spellers. I tend to send e-mails to people I believe who know the difference but just made a mistake. One blogger who I follow wrote warp in a place that didn’t make sense. I mentioned another error in the sentence; then he changed warp to wrap. I then suggested warm, and he realized THAT was the correct word.
Whereas some folks that just don’t know the difference between its and it’s, despite the previous correction, I tend not to bother; noting this would just be harassment. I used to correct because I figured people might think that they were less well informed; now I recognize, in a world of C U L8R texts, that may not necessarily be the case.
In any case, I really like these proofreading tips from the New York Times. Among the points: Use spelling checkers but don’t trust them. In particular, be aware of homophone confusion: complement and compliment, accept and except, effect and affect, oversees and overseas. Rather like what I’ve experienced.
Incidentally, even the typo watchdogs can make mistakes.