Jump to most recent response

Spelling mistakes

Do spelling mistakes matter? I caught myself being put off a poem by the spelling mistakes in it. And then thought 'hang on, there may be more here, why do the mistakes matter?' To which the reply was that if the poet doesn't care enough about their poem to get the spelling right in the era of spellcheckers, why should I care about it? But then I told myself I was being harsh and judgmental......and I probably was, wasn't I?
Sat, 3 Mar 2018 07:35 am
message box arrow
Yes they do matter although I would hesitate to point them out either publicly or privately for fear of having all manner of vitriol hurled back at me.

What bothers me is not the fact that spellcheckers have been ignored but that the person just hasn't cared enough or has been too lazy to bother making any effort at correction. And it's not just in poetry presented either here on WoL or elsewhere. Numerous social media posts by literary journals contain spelling errors. If the people who are publishing cannot be bothered to check then nor will their readers. It's a bit like the one broken window leading to another adage or one piece of litter justifying the next.

But of course there are a few reasons not to be immediately judgemental. Spellcheckers can vary across different platforms and there are obvious variations between UK and US English. I have also come across instances of poems being posted to WoL by people with dyslexia which should not be a barrier to writing or sharing work publicly.

It's fair to say that social media has highlighted the appallingly bad levels of literacy now that everyone is tapping away on smartphones and sharing their every thought in public. But by definition, social media is immediate and moves on at the click of a send button and shouldn't necessarily be compared with presenting poetry to a critical audience.

Interestingly, as lnog as the frsit and lsat ltetres of a wrod are in the crocret palce taht is all we need to rgeocinse the wrod.

Good question Dave and ultimately yes, we should all care, very much.
Sat, 3 Mar 2018 09:57 am
message box arrow
Usually I'm a stickler for correct spelling. Sometimes though I become aware of other possibilities.

When I worked as a writer in prison a man I worked with was dyslexic so his spelling was all over the place, and yet the poem he wrote for the prison magazins was very expressive and well-written. Should we have corrected his poem, or would something have been lost in the corrections? We decided to print as was, and chose to highlight the issue of dyslexia.

Spelling has only been completely standardised in the last 200 years. Before then words often had a choice of spellings. Shakespeare never spelled his name the same way twice.

Then of course there is the question of dialect - there is seldom such a thing as a standardised form of dialect spelling.
Sat, 3 Mar 2018 08:21 pm
message box arrow
I am a excelent spellar and allways use correct grammer and make sure that apostrophy's ate allways in the right palice. Thats why I get annoyed when I sea these errors in other peoples work and usualy dont bovver reading them.

Mon, 5 Mar 2018 04:23 pm
message box arrow


When I see spelling errors I like to assume the post was written via smartphone. It's a little more excusable then.
Fri, 9 Mar 2018 07:57 pm
message box arrow


I don't think it bothers me much. It can be to do with reading on a screen and not everyone will notice their own errors. I don't assume it is a lack of care and it may be nervousness. Also someone may not be brilliantly literate...but does that make them a crap poet? What if they are dyslexic and nobody is proof-reading for them? Age has made me much less judgemental about spelling and much more judgemental about people being judgemental! By the way that wasn't a spelling mistake. I like extra 'e's.

Mon, 12 Mar 2018 05:26 pm
message box arrow
Poetry does indeed lent itself to a plethora of licenses but that should be no reason for not checking one’s work thoroughly before publication. Personally, I dislike it when poems start each line with a capital letter too, to me it’s lazy but evidently it’s okay!
With spellcheck functions on most devices/computers these days, with a little care, a perfectly readable effort can be produced.
Wed, 14 Mar 2018 11:09 am
message box arrow
A good example today (15 March) of a poem that was actually quite good but it was peppered with spelling and punctuation errors, which was very off-putting.

Note - I initially wrote offputting with no hyphen but corrected it when the system highlighted an error.
Thu, 15 Mar 2018 10:49 am
message box arrow
Thank you, Dave, for posting this question. (And hello.) As folks' posts have shown, this is not an easy one to answer. Having worked for years as a copy editor I can usually spot a mistake at 100 paces. Increasingly, though, I stop myself from saying anything. (I also read the Guardian website, and am weaning myself off shouting at the screen.)
It raises one of the fascinating aspects of the live poetry world (Spoken Word? Open-mic?). Where a piece of writing is delivered orally, received aurally, who knows whether the spelling (or anything else on the page) is correctly written? And isn't that one of the most exciting aspects of it, in that it liberates those for whom grammar, spelling, page layout are still a mystery, to be able to express what they want to express, share their words, without worrying if they are being judged for things at which school failed them? I have seen 'performance poets' whose writing was a single block of unpunctuated verbiage, yet delivers as a wonderful poem.
Fri, 16 Mar 2018 02:58 pm
message box arrow
I think one of the jobs of a writer is to manage the impact of their words on the reader. It’s up to you but for me you haven’t made much of an impact with sloppy spelling.
Sat, 17 Mar 2018 04:59 pm
message box arrow
I have to say that spelling errors and bad grammar really grate with me. That said, I still read them. I just don't enjoy them as much as if the writer had taken the trouble to get it right. The fault may be on my part, but I guess it's all down to the way I was taught English all those years ago.
Mon, 19 Mar 2018 12:00 pm
message box arrow
It's because we didn't have Google and the Spillchucker in those days Trevor.
Mon, 19 Mar 2018 03:07 pm
message box arrow
Your sarcasm amuses me 😂 brilliant quality to have
Thu, 22 Mar 2018 10:43 am
message box arrow
See I either assume its due to a smartphone (as mine always gives me typos) or possibly dyslexia. I'll usually try to keep reading if the content is good. But I guess some people may be lazy and just don't check.

Sometimes when I proof read I miss things until a few months later when I look back. But usually I manage to do it successfully.

It is easier and more pleasant reading work that's been proof read and spell corrected, but I try not to let it stop me reading work because you never know when you'll be missing out on a mind blowing poem.
Mon, 18 Jun 2018 03:51 pm
message box arrow
If the meaning is unclear then I think it's good to ask 'hey what was your intent' otherwise for me at least would not be overly important. If you read any 18th 17th 16th century poetry people used to often have idiosyncratic ways of spelling certain words. Often better than the 'standard' spelling for me, can give insight into the psychology of the writer even if only to indicate haste. Then again it may well just be a mistake lol.
14 days ago
message box arrow
Up to the 18th century therr were no standard spellings even of names. Shakespeare's name is spelled every which way in the few documents we have with his name on.
14 days ago
message box arrow
I honestly don't think laziness exists. I think a lack of understanding and appreciation does.

Nobody would be lazy if they knew how badly it affects them. What is laziness? Is it to be demotivated? Does that mean depressed people are lazy? Miss me with that.

I think 'lazy' is a word invented to demonise lower classes and the mentally ill. We use the word 'lazy' to attack people who do not achieve excellence, it's a word of judgement and it holds us back when trying to empathise with each other.

Some people can't spell for shit, but their ideas are profound, their sentiments are beautiful and life-affirming. Not everyone that is dyslexic can't spell and vice versa. There are other reasons for not spelling everything correctly. Some people's minds lack the sophistication to use a spellchecker but their poetry is valid.

All of this being said, if you want academics to brag about knowing who you are, you are going to have to spell correctly, otherwise they'll be too embarrassed to revere you.

It's a funny one, but if you are going to judge someone for having bad spelling, you're probably too self-involved to get what they're saying anyway.

Colin, if you see me make a spelling mistake, let me know buddy. I want to please the academics. (not sarcastic)
14 days ago
message box arrow
The correct way to spell Google is GOoolag..
14 days ago
message box arrow
Ferris, I could not have put it better myself.
10 days ago
message box arrow

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

Find out more Hide this message