One Little Letter, Big Difference

TypoOhNo

Chinese Menu

Photo courtesy of Sharon King

A friend of mine spotted this typo on a Chinese food menu. The restaurant owners mean “crab” but offer “crap” instead. Yikes and yuck.

Yes, one letter makes a big difference. This issue comes in the form of the totally wrong letter, like above, or an omitted letter: “public affairs” has appeared as “pubic affairs.” Or there might be a transposition error, like the more tame and common “from” instead of “form.”

Unfortunately, spell check does not catch this phenomenon most of the time; the words’ incorrect counterparts are often real words. I stress these practices to avoid this occurrence:

Slow down or take a break. We all have large–and tedious–typing projects on occasion. Perhaps breaking it down into more bite-sized pieces or stopping when you are tired will reduce mistakes.

Double-check your work. I recommend reading your writing aloud after you finish it. Sometimes your ears are more alert than your eyes.

Use a second pair of eyes. I might sound like a broken record with this tip but it really makes a difference. We are too close to our own writing. Having someone else give it a good once-over before sending it to press can eliminate some major humiliation.

Happy reading and writing, my friends!

Sean C. Wright is the author of the short stories Hazel Hogan and Devil Does Dallas. She is also an editor. For more information about her writing skills and how she can assist you with yours–business or consumer–visit http://www.iwrightaway.com/.

SpaghettiWords

 Send me your typo images! Snap pictures and email them to msseanc@aol.com. They must be real pictures and not images in online links, as those might be doctored. I’m looking for the real McCoy. Conceal the company’s identity if possible. No sweat if you can’t. I’ll hide the name before I post it. We’re not looking to embarrass but to educate.

Sounds Like. . .

TypoOhNo

Buffet Typo

I caught these typos on a dish’s label at a buffet. Evidently, there was trouble spelling “clam” and “sauce.” And the poor people must not know that “souse” means intoxicated (gasp!). 

I’ve often seen this coping mechanism in writing: spelling phonetically. In other words, some words sound like they should be spelled one way when they are actually spelled another. Here are some situations that you may want to double-check when you write:

The middle man. There are words that have a middle letter, easily throwing us off in writing because we can’t hear them in speech. “Mathematics” and “camera,” for example, are sometimes seen without their middle–and silent–letter “e.” Here is a perfect example of this phenomenon on a medical website. They forgot the other “o” in “coronary,” which is a syllable we barely touch in pronunciation:

 Sounds Like 

“Ee” or “Ea?” Another beguiling one. “Speech” and “peach” both sound like they share the same middle vowels but don’t in print. Other pairs like “street” and “cheat” can get you, too. Watch out.

“Er” or “Ar?” This enigma is a sibling to the one above. Words that sound the same in the end may have either one of these suffixes. “Grammar,” for example, and “slammer” perfectly illustrate this dilemma. Their endings sound the same but are spelled differently. I have seen “grammer” a few times. Tsk, tsk.

Exotic words. A relative once told me of someone spelling “Russian roulette” like “rush and roulette.” I have also seen “or durves” instead of “hors d’oeuvres.” Words that fall into this category are bothersome in writing because they originated elsewhere and wormed their way into English. But mind your spelling with them nonetheless. It impresses your readers.

How do you avoid all of the potential spelling issues above? It’s super easy. Use spell check!  

Happy reading and writing, my friends.

Sean C. Wright is the author of the short stories Hazel Hogan and Devil Does Dallas. She is also an editor. For more information about her writing skills and how she can assist you with yours–business or consumer–visit http://www.iwrightaway.com/.

SpaghettiWords

Send me your typo images! Snap pictures and email them to msseanc@aol.com. They must be real pictures and not images in online links, as those might be doctored. I’m looking for the real McCoy. Conceal the company’s identity if possible. No sweat if you can’t. I’ll hide the name before I post it. We’re not looking to embarrass but to educate.