Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Spelling in your Spelling

Many years ago, I found an article online, I think it was called "A Pegan at the Alter: Why Spelling is Important".  It may possibly have been a Themestream article.  I thought I knew who had written it, but when I do a search, I can find most of her writings from that time frame, but not this one.


Spelling and Grammar

I am a geek when it comes to spelling, punctuation and grammar.  I've never quite made it to Grammar Nazi status - there are a few things I'm just a bit lazy or rusty on and I got to see how obnoxious it was when my daughter and her friends were doing it.  However, I find that I lose the message if it's badly presented.  I glaze over if a sentence starts to look more like computer coding - b4 gr8 - aren't they coordinates on a chessboard?  Or if there are too many letters or numbers in place of words - r u able 2 b ready?  It's not as though there are too many places where you have a character limit anymore.  Text messaging charges are far more flexible - I do remember the bad old days and going through $20 credit in a day, 20c a text message back then, and you had only 80 characters I think - although having to scroll through them in capital letters was a bit painful.  Facebook got rid of the character limit on posts.  I think Twitter still has them, but half the attraction for twitter is the little bites of life.

I don't see any excuse for the sloppy spelling when damn near every interface that you are typing into these days has a spell-check built in.  Yes, I do often tend to ignore some of the red squiggly lines because I'm not American and I totally reject putting z in everything and taking out the u.  But that doesn't account for some of the really awful spelling that is still consistently in use. Predictive text and autocorrect should be able to help out too - even if some of their fails are highly amusing.  Ironically as I write this, the only word in that paragraph that has a little red squiggly spelling notification is autocorrect.

Someone recently invited everyone to a new facebook group they'd created.  Tragically, in the name and in the url was "peganism".  It made it hard to take it seriously.  I frequently see people posting pictures of their "alters" and it drives me crazy.  I can cope a little with "insense" because sometimes there are words that I just can't put together on that day and I rely on the red squiggly line to help me out with them.

Some words that have come from Hebrew have multiple options for spelling.  I can cope with that.  The vowels are usually left out so QBL can be spelled Qabala, Qabballah, Cabala, Cabballah, Kabala or Kabballah or any variation thereof.  It took me a while to get my head around that one and after seeing a comment about it today, I'm clearly not the only one.

For the record, an ALTAR is a table used as sacred space, ALTER means to change or is a shortened version of Alter-Ego.

You cast a spell, you will cast a spell and you have cast a spell. At no time is the past tense "casted".  It's like talking to my 8-year old.  I'm frequently having to explain the unusual past tense words to her - brought and not bringed, caught and not catched.

The Witches Who Can't Spell

There seem to be a few jokes about Witches having bad spelling, but jokes aside, I do have to wonder how successful you can be in your magic if your basic written language is so lacking.

To create successful magic requires more than just intent, regardless of what the latest still-wet-behind-the-ears, fluffy beginner might try to preach.  Intent is a great place to start - as I've said more times than I can count - but it is not all of the story and stopping there can cause all sorts of misfires, unexpected outcomes and magical mistakes.

Successful magic requires precision, both of thought and of deed.  It requires specifics, you can't have vagueness or generalisations unless you want a vague and muddy outcome.

How does this relate to lousy spelling?

It's quite simple really.  Above I've explained how there really is no excuse for bad spelling any more.  It takes willful laziness and a total disregard for other people to still be spelling so badly.  My former brother in law used to say things like "If it's any constellation, or to be pacific" but then when gently told what the correct forms were "consolation and specific" he'd get all pissy like I was being horribly rude to him and say "listen to what I mean, not what I say".  Then he'd go on to keep using the words wrongly, knowing they were wrong.

Listen to what I mean, not what I say.

How does that work exactly?  How do you know for sure what he means if his words suggest something different?

So this becomes laziness and arrogance and willful stupidity at times.  It shows a complete disrespect for people around you by telling them that they should just 'know' what you really mean.

Now let's transplant that little snippet of personality into a magical setting shall we?  People don't suddenly change persona when they're spell-casting.  You have laziness and arrogance and willful stupidity mixed with a spell to create change in the world.  A spell using magic, which as I said, takes the path of least resistance.  So if the easiest path is not clear, if it has been lazily constructed and has several possible interpretations - which would translate as several easy paths - can we now see how this becomes a problem?

I'm not saying that none of their magic would work but that there is huge potential for muddy results.

In any magical setting, I was always taught to be careful what you "put out there" and that words have power.  Think about what the wrong words could do when put out there.



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