It makes a great news story: the university tutor who has collected and published examples of poor spelling and illiteracy from his students.
The problem is that good spelling is more a sign of experience than of intelligence given the notorious irregularity of written English. While I agree that good written communication skills should be expected of all graduates – and are essential for PR graduates – it helps to admit to our own howlers. Here are some of mine:
- I circulated a questionnaire among staff when at school as research for a magazine article. Many gleefully corrected my use of ‘favor’ in place of the conventional UK spelling.
- When I worked as a typesetter, I produced a menu for a local pub. They came back months later to ask me to insert a second s in ‘lemon mouse’.
- As a PR consultant, I pitched my plans for a product launch to a very large client. Problem was, the slide said it was a ‘press lunch’. Hard to justify the expense.
- My wife – who now writes for a living – once completed a graduate job application for the role of a university Accommodation Officer. She spelt accommodation wrong throughout (easily done) – and failed to be shortlisted.
- In recent years, I misnamed a local university in a presentation to colleagues. There’s a second s in Teesside. Odd, but true.