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View Diary: UPDATED-"I" before "E" except after "C how racist I am?"-moranically mispelled anti-Obama sign in TX (186 comments)

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  •  Here's the thing ... (1+ / 0-)
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    Yes, it is an error.  Yes, it's perfectly fine to point that out.  But it's a really trivial and superficial error.  It took me some time and thought to actually spot it -- because it's very subtle (the "I before E" rule is really just a mnemonic, and is really irregular, like a lot of English spelling, hence the various extensions people add to it).  I even checked a couple dictionaries to see if "seige" was perhaps listed as a variant somewhere (though I did avoid looking too deep into the OED citations, since you'll always find odd spellings there that haven't been used for hundreds of years).

    Our culture takes correct spellings as a proxy for education and intelligence, though it's not necessarily a correct prediction.  That sometimes extends to really trivial examples like this.

    Maybe deep study of linguistics, looking at phonetic/phonemic transcriptions and being constantly reminded that "writing is a secondary phenomenon" have stunted my sensitivity to these minor spelling errors, and so I don't get the joke quick enough and end up annoyed.  All I know is that these kinds of things sort of get at me.

    As for valuing education -- it's much more important to me that people are able to think critically than that they are able to spell every word correctly.  In most contexts nowadays, we have spell checkers that do a pretty good job of regularizing our spellings when we screw up (though "grammar check" is fairly useless, and spell check can make some hilarious mistakes once in a while all on its own).  English spelling really ends up boiling down to some general rules plus a whole lot of memorization of irregular spellings.  Being able to do it correctly doesn't necessarily say anything about your ability to think critically, although the man who wrote this particular sign may happen to have problems with both.

    •  it's not "very subtle"-- it's not subtle at all (0+ / 0-)

      i saw it immediately as did most others.

      "our culture takes correct spellings as a proxy for education and intelligence" and this guy was showing neither, as befits his racist and erroneous conclusion about the president.

      puts him in the same category as the guy who spelled "moron" as "moran": the exact same category.

      people who 1) read a lot (which influences how quickly you notice when words are spelled wrong), and 2) spell words correctly, often have common cause with other people who read a lot and spell words correctly.   those two characteristics in turn have a positive correlation with intelligence, education, liberal politics, and inclusive justice.

      conversely, lacking those two characteristics has a positive correlation with lack of intelligence, poor education, conservative politics, and racism.

      nothing at all subtle about it.

      Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
      Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

      by TrueBlueMajority on Fri May 17, 2013 at 12:09:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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