Orthography Is Dead…Long Live Spellcheck?

Back in the 1960s, I flunked a pop spelling test in high school.  I wasn’t too worried about it.  Most of the class didn’t do any better than I did.

Our English teacher, however,  was concerned enough that she made us all take our miserable test papers home to show our parents.  We had to bring the tests back to school the next day with  our parents’ signed acknowledgment of receipt.

My father signed mine with an added note, “Orthography is important.”  I took the bait and asked him the meaning of “orthography.”  I figured I should know, in case the teacher needed to ask me.

Orthography basically refers to the rules of spelling.  In my father’s day, children apparently used to learn these rules …like i  before  e except after c.

That was the only rule Dad mentioned, and I never learned any more.  For all practical purposes, orthography has been dead a long time.

Nowadays, of course, we have Spellcheck, but it doesn’t always  work as advertised.  If  I spell it “Spell Czech,” my computer  doesn’t seem to mind at all. -U.R.K.


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