Friday, August 17, 2007

I Think You Spell His Name . . .

The New York Times has what it calls “The Public Editor,” who represents the readers. Last Sunday, he spent an entire long column about misspelled names.

A name is the only thing you really have; a job can come and/or go. But you remain who you are, John or Jane Doe, and you deserve to have your name spelled properly.

How did the reporters try to get out of this one? “I was operating from memory and didn’t bother to check.” Or, “I assumed the name was spelled the ‘normal’ way and didn’t check.” And even, “I was checking names on the internet and was misled by other people’s misspellings.”

When you don't spend the time and energy to be exact it means, “I didn’t give a rat’s ass about the details.”

We had a saying back in New England that “good enough isn’t.” I used to tell my writing students, “When you leave a note for the milkman, you should do three drafts.” What you write should be clear, with words spelled right; that’s why God invented dictionaries.

Does it matter? Sure; just look at message boards on the internet and see which posts seem valid and which you dismiss quickly. It’s probably the writing, the punctuation and the spelling that make the difference. Fuzzy writing comes from a fuzzy brain.


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