We can't spell because we don't read
There is a notorious website out there where angry and naive college students can post and find information about their professors. I'll link to it, but it does not really deserve to be named expressly; I'm sure we all understand the difficulties college students face in giving professors honest, helpful, and meaningful feedback.
In response to said website, a very popular blog has sprung up for professor types to comment on their college students. Those of us in the biz, so to speak, find relief in knowing that we are not alone, horror in the prospect that there seems to be a plague that runs through colleges on a regular basis, and humor in watching someone else deliver the smackdown we so long to make ourselves.
So I was relieved, horrified, and amused to read the following entry (I've linked to the whole entry, but have only quoted the relevant part here):
I teach classes online. So I have my students reading an article about how text messaging and IMming are ruining our children's ability to spell. Here is one of my best responses to date! However the week is still young!
"i don't think that text messaging and iming is messing up our spelling and grammer at all I do it all the time and i can still spell the words out its just that when you are text messaging you are trying to do it fast its just a fast way to communicate not a replacement for spelling plaus every1 knows whut i am typing when i type b4 everyone needs spelling if no one could spell how would anyone have a job? i am not the best speller in the world but i dont think that any thing is running our spelling or young kids i think that they just have to step up the spelling with the math and reading you can read a word all day but u should be able to spell it like its nothing."
Isn't it wonderful when they prove our point while trying to argue against us? I wonder about the author of the article, though. S/he seems a little behind the times, because I was bemoaning spelling habits before texting and IMing were really out there. My position is that we've become such an aural and visual society that we're hearing things and seeing ads and commercials, and not really reading and learning the language. I'm not good at spelling and grammar because I'm an English major. My major did not teach me spelling and grammar (my foreign language studies taught me a LOT about grammar). I'm good at spelling and grammar because I read.
My two favorite examples of this are "should of" and "chip and dale". Okay, the first one is fairly obvious. When you hear someone say "should've," which is the contraction of the words "should" and "have," "should of" seems like a logical conclusion for the word(s) spoken. Incorrect, but somewhat understandable (I cringe when I see it in print when that should have been caught by and editor).
So what about "chip and dale?" Here's a screenshot of when I googled (note the new-ish verb there!) the term:
This was the actual phrase someone used in an essay they turned in to me when discussing the Chippendale dancers (don't ask, I don't remember the details). You know, those two little chipmunks who take off all their clothes at women's only parties? No? You don't know them? Hunh. Again, I believe this is a student who doesn't read (apparently doesn't even read magazines or advertisements), and rather than look something up in a *gasp* book (because the internet had barely even been invented way back in the 90s), the student just relied on his/her auditory capacity.