Spelling is the writing
of a word
or words with the necessary letters
present in an accepted standard order. It is one of the
elements of orthography
and a prescriptive element of language. Most spellings
attempt to approximate a transcribing of the sounds of
the language into alphabetic letters; however, completely
spellings are often the exception, due to drifts in pronunciations
over time and irregular spellings adopted through common
Spelling standards and conventions
Whereas uniformity in the spelling of words is one of
the features of a standard
language in modern times, and official
languages usually prescribe standard spelling, minority
languages and regional
languages often lack this trait. Furthermore, it is
a relatively recent development in various major languages
in national contexts, linked to the compiling of dictionaries,
the founding of national academies, and other institutions
of language maintenance, including compulsory mass education.
In countries such as the U.S. and U.K. without official
spelling policies, many vestigial and foreign spelling
conventions work simultaneously. In countries where there
is a national language maintenance policy, such as France,
the Netherlands and Germany, reforms were driven to make
spelling a better index of pronunciation. Spelling often
evolves for simple reasons of alphabetic thrift, as when
British English "catalogue" becomes American English "catalog".
Methods used to teach and learn
Learning proper spelling by rote is a traditional element
of elementary education. In the U.S., the ubiquity of
method of teaching reading, which emphasizes the importance
of "sounding out" spelling in learning to read, also puts
a premium on the prescriptive learning of spelling. For
these reasons, divergence from standard spelling is often
perceived as an index of stupidity, illiteracy,
class standing. The intelligence of Dan
Quayle, for instance, was repeatedly disparaged for
his correcting a student's spelling of "potato" as the
now non-standard "potatoe" (C15th spelling, O.E.D.) at
an elementary school spelling
bee in Trenton,
New Jersey on June 15, 1992.
The opposite viewpoint was voiced by President Andrew
Jackson who stated "It's a damn poor mind that can
only think of one way to spell a word."
Since traditional language
teaching methods emphasize written
language over spoken
language, a second-language
speaker may have a better spelling ability than a native
speaker despite having a poorer command of the language.
tests are usually used to assess a student's mastery
over the words in the spelling lessons s/he has received
so far. They can also be an effective practice method.
There are many free spelling tests on websites on the
Spelling bees are competitions to determine the best
speller of a group. Such events have grown in popularity
and are often televised, particularly in the U.S..
Divergent spelling is a popular advertising technique,
used to attract attention or to render a trademark
"suggestive" rather than "merely descriptive." The pastry
Donuts and Krispy
Kreme, for example, employ non-standard spellings.
The same technique is also popular among some recording
The word itself
Spelling is a notable word; it is sometimes humorously
spelled as "speeling" when drawing attention to poor spelling.
tense and past
participle of spell (only in the word-related
sense) have both a regular
form in spelled and an irregular
form in spelt. British
English and Canadian
English allow both irregular and regular forms; in
English, the irregular forms are rarely used.
| Misspelling of–'Occasion'
and 'Confectionery' (Confectionary [sic]) on
a shopfront in the United
While some words admit multiple spellings, some spellings
are clearly incorrect and thus labeled as misspellings.
A misspelled word can be a series of letters that represents
no correctly spelled word of the same language at all
(such as "liek" for "like") or a correct spelling of another
word (such as writing "here" when one means "hear", or
"now" when one means "know"). Misspellings of the latter
type can easily make their way into printed material because
they are not caught by simple computerised spell
Misspellings may be due to either typing
errors (e.g. typing teh
for the), or lack of knowledge of the correct spelling.
Whether or not a word is misspelled may depend on context,
such as American / British English distinctions. Misspelling
can also be a matter of opinion when variant spellings
are accepted by some and not by others. For example "miniscule"
(for "minuscule") is a misspelling to many, and yet it
is listed as a legitimate variant in a number of dictionaries.
A well-known Internet scam involves the registration
names that are deliberate misspellings of well-known
corporate names in order to mislead or defraud. The practice
is sometimes referred to as "typosquatting".
Ohio – the leader of the crew that surveyed the
town's territory was Gen. Moses
Cleaveland, and the region was named in his honor;
reportedly the town's first newspaper could not fit
the town's name in its masthead without removing the
first "a" from the name.
– from cacao.
Many foreign languages and foreigners speaking English
still use "cacao".
– accidental misspelling of googol.
According to Google's vice president, as quoted on a
Money Programme documentary, January 2006, the
founders – noted for their poor spelling – registered
Google as a trademark and web address before someone
pointed out that it was not correct.
is an 18th Century misunderstanding of the classical
Latin name Hebudes, where u was read ri
– actually Krakatau in Indonesian. The origin
of the spelling Krakatoa is unclear, but may have been
the result of a typographical error made in a British
source reporting on the massive eruption of 1883.
– erroneous spelling of the Aztec
emperor's name, Moctezuma. The commonly used
name is more easily pronounced by English speakers.
a popular bedtime drink in the UK,
came about because someone misspelled the original name
Ovomaltine on the trademark documentation.
Referer – common misspelling of the word referrer.
It is so common, in fact, that it made it into the official
specification of HTTP – the communication protocol of
the World Wide Web – and has therefore become the standard
industry spelling when discussing HTTP
Washington, "In 1907, due to a Postal Official's
error in reading an official report, the post office
was titled 'Seguim' for approximately a month. With
the next report, the Official read the letter 'g' as
a 'q' and the post office here became known as 'Sequim.'
The name change apparently did not worry the residents
enough to protest. It has been known as Sequim ever
a mining town in Arizona, had its name spelled incorrectly.
It should be Quartzite, after the mineral quartzite.
– Arabic zamt was misread; in Latin letters,
at the time, the letter i was never dotted, so
"m" looked like "ni".
| A misspelling of purchased on a service
| Misspelling of the word "Chop
Suey" in a menu at a restaurant in Kandy, Sri
Act May Apply to Misspelling Domain Names to Mislead
Surfers", Shari Claire Lewis, New York Law
Journal, September 15, 2004
Louis DEROY & Marianne MULON, 1992, Dictionnaire
de noms de lieux, Paris: Le Robert, article "Hebrides"
- Definitions from Dictionary.com
Robinson, J. (2005). Sequim History. Retrieved
July 24, 2008, from City of Sequim, Washington Website
- English spelling
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