The Spelling Nazi

I am a self-confessed Spelling Nazi. Ever since childhood my parents and loved ones have sought counsel from me in their quest for perfection of wordage. Ha ha. What a pompous a-hole I am. I love it.

Seriously though, I have a strange desire to see words spelt correctly. Actually, stranger still is the fact that I get a sort of sick pleasure out of seeing words spelt incorrectly. Like a pimple-squeezer, I see something that needs rectifying and know I must do so pronto!

It’s quite a debilitating condition. It can cause rifts in the most solid relationships. Just the other day I became increasingly frustrated when my mother remained adamant that the word ‘recipe’ “Just doesn’t look right. Perhaps it’s missing an ‘e'”. RECEIPE, she offered. My mouth was agape in horror. “Are you seriously questioning my spelling ability?” I felt my heartbeat quicken. Three ‘e’s in RECIPE? A crime punishable by corporal punishment, surely.

The workplace is another dangerous field for the Spelling Nazi. The innocent little correction on a return email can be taken quite to heart. Trust me colleague, I am doing you a favour. And the rest of humanity. Words cannot fight for themselves. Call me the Robin Hood of literacy. Just doing my part people, just doing my part.

One of my pet peeves is that there are incorrectly spelt words that seem to have just weasled their way into our society without so much as causing a ripple. Take the word ‘definitely’, for example. Here are some variations I have witnessed.

  1. Definantly. Oh dear. My purposeful misspelling has now resulted in my phone adopting this as an actual word. My palms sweat with this realisation. Honestly though, take a look at this spelling. Sound it out. Do people seriously mean to say that they believe the word is said as “deh-fee-NANT-lee”? Are they having a laugh?
  2. Definately. The lesser of the two crimes. Yes it still includes the dreaded ‘a’, but I can see how an illiterate person might view this as acceptable. After all, English is a painfully deceptive language. I spent a good portion of my life sounding out ‘ascertain’ as two separate words, “as certain”.
  3. I did think there were more, but I found myself creating misspelt versions of the word I’d never in fact seen.

English is a difficult language, an eclectic mix of other languages all thrown together almost absent-mindedly, with no thought for its future users. BUT… This doesn’t mean people can just spell things however they like. There are some occasions where it is absolutely necessary to GET A PROOFREADER!!! Restaurant menus, as an example. I can’t help myself. As soon as I plonk myself down, I immediately scan the pages for the inevitable spelling error. Part of it is my obsession with spelling, and part of it is the humour I’ve found through hilarious misunderstandings as a result of incorrect spelling. For example, I genuinely went to a Japanese restaurant that offered “Crab Craw” on the menu. Craw. I tried to take an inconspicuous photo but stood frozen in horror as my phone let off an almighty SNAP! as if it were an actual camera. Then I felt guilty that the staff knew I was obviously mocking their sign, so I was overboard nice and spent much more than was necessary on my lunch.

At a local kebab store, the menu boasts the primary ingredient of hommos as “chicks peas”. My mind conjures up strange images which I can’t properly explain. For some reason I want to say it in a sleazy, Fat Pizzaesque voice. Chiiiiiicks peeeeas bro.

Ok, let’s get cracking on the real stuff. A few spelling no-no’s we’ve all encountered.

  • There/Their/They’re. No. The forward slash does NOT indicate that they are interchangeable. Take note. Admittedly even I have fallen victim to this cruel trap. Homophones. Words that sound the same but are spelt differently and most importantly, mean different things. Was it really that hard for people to invent new words that they had to just use the same words spelt differently? This creates unnecessary confusion. Nonetheless, correct spelling should still apply.

“There going over their to get they’re stuff”. Ahhhhhh… Literary nightmare. It took me about three times to write that sentence so poorly. The smart part of my brain kept taking over and wanting to override what I was writing.

  • Your/You’re. Same thing. Not that hard. A contraction to be precise. It’s two words smushed into one. You are. When in doubt, sound it out. Can you say “I would like to visit you are house?” No. Problem solved.
  • To/Two/Too. Really? Now I feel like I’m teaching kindergarten, or at least finally utilising my Teaching English as a Foreign Language certificate. This one is really not that hard. One of them can automatically be eliminated by being a number, right? WRONG! The amount of times I’ve seen people mix up two and too actually scares me.

Now this is getting serious. News bulletins for crying out loud! There was genuinely a segment the other day about how a footballer had a “corked thy”. What. The. Actual. Part of me suspects this was either a joke or some type of cry from help from a fellow Spelling Nazi, like a weird mating call, desperate for another person in the world to notice it and cry out in equal disgust.

Which brings me to my next point: The Purposeful Misspeller. You know the type. “My lyf is gr8!” No, it’s not. It can’t possibly be with spelling that atrocious. Abbreviations like that went out with the introduction of unlimited phone caps! No more is it necessary to limit your texts to 120 characters. Text your heart away, but please, don’t bastardise words in that fashion. Even when I was sending texts as a 16 year old at 25 cents a pop and a $15 phone credit budget, I would painstakingly keep my spelling integrity.

Sometimes I feel that people spend more time cre8ing abbreviations than it takes to just spell the damn word correctly. “Hay gurl, ur lookin fyne. Rly ur so sxc”. Shudder. This is an occasion where I need an emoji. Specifically the little face with the blank wide-eyed stare. I will begrudgingly let these scandalous sentences slide if, and only if, used by a person in their teens. What I refuse to accept is people well past their teen years who STILL spell things lyk dat.

Still on the topic of the purposeful misspeller, I once did volunteer work for an organisation whose every piece of written material on their website was so poorly written that I put in a complaint. Their excuse was that it weeded out the psychos from the normal people. Evidently they would get abusive emails from people who objected to their abhorrent spelling and use that as a basis for not allowing them to volunteer. Lucky I’d already been posted to my position pre-complaint. I would rather like to think that if someone made threats against my life for my spelling prowess, or lack thereof, that I would take a long, hard look at myself and re-evaluate things rather than shifting the blame. Weeding out the psychos. Doubtful.

Trust me friends, I could go on forever. But I must stop for my own sanity. Now that my rant is over, I would like to share the final misfortune of being a Spelling Nazi: Scrutiny. Inevitably people will now scroll through my every word in search of a spelling error, desperately hoping for that Aha! Hypocrite! moment. But that I can live with, as long as people are focusing on the issue at hand.
Keep it real… and spelt correctly!

Photo by Dmitry Ratushny on Unsplash


3 thoughts on “The Spelling Nazi

  1. Self confessed! Love it. Personally, I’m in the closet. I cry in the inside every time there’s a crucial spelling mistake. Especially if my phone tries to humiliate me with auto correct! The misery is surely palpable. On the other hand, I know more than a couple people who misspell a few choice words.. I won’t embarrass them here by mentioning which ones. I am, however, proud to say, that my best friend and my boyfriend, those that I keep the closest, spell beautifully!
    Love the piece! Got a good laugh 🙂 I thought I was the only cruel Spelling Nazi around. I am reassured by your presence.


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