I was checking my news feeds the other day (I believe the phrase is "doom scrolling," for obvious reasons), when I came across an announcement of a march in Atlanta to protest the outcome of the recent election.
Not getting political here, but folks seldom protest things that went their way, so you can imagine who was doing the marching. But that's not critical to the conversation. What is at least worth noting is that the announcement had one glaring problem: Those making it had misspelled "Georgia."
I mean, come on people, that's not even one of the hard ones. Yes, it's no "Utah" or "Texas," but it's not "Massachusetts" or "Connecticut." I'd add "Mississippi," but that one has that rhyming thing (you know, "M-I-SS-I-SS-I-PP-I") that make it pretty easy. And fun when you're, say, 9 years old.
An aside: Why do we even have double letters in the English language? I mean, the first parts of "mistake" and "Mississippi" are both pronounced the same way. Seems like a needless redundancy to me. But I digress. AND THERE IT IS AGAIN!
Georgia does follow our typical state naming convention, which is either a) a blatant attempt to suck up to British royalty, or b) a mangling of what the natives called it. Both of which are ironic considering that pretty quickly after naming the places we fought two wars so we wouldn't have to suck up to British royalty anymore and quit caring at all about what the natives thought.
Still, I don't think it too much to ask that, if you're going to send out urgent calls to action in what you believe to be defense of your state, you at least go to the trouble of spelling the name of the state correctly.
Anyway, the irony of me observing that someone misspelled something can't be lost on the many folks, who, over the years, have had to edit my writing. They might suggest that I'm not a good speller. I contend that I adhere to Mark Twain's observation that it's a narrow mind that can only spell a word one way.
I owe my first actual real-life newspaper gig to an opening created when a reporter for the newspaper in Fort Smith misspelled the largest city in New Mexico repeatedly in stories about a conference being attended by some local folks, and the publisher at the time had enough.
So, I got my first post-college job because I can spell "Albuquerque."
At the start of my career, editors would review copy armed with a scarlet felt-tipped marker. As I recall, one handed me a story and mentioned that the last time there had been this much red in one place, Moses was parting it.
I wanted to push back that the comment was both unnecessarily cruel and historically inaccurate. But I've found it's best not to argue with people who are for all intents and purposes correct, hold your employment situation in their ink-stained hands and buy red felt-tipped pens by the case.
And while I took their criticism with exactly the same grace as you'd expect most people to take it (sulking, trash-can kicking, loud pronouncements that my "creative process" was being stifled, other assorted manifestations of temper tantrums, etc.), over time I did come to realize a few things.
For one, yeah, you probably need to be a little more careful about, you know, actually spelling a word correctly. Anyone who has left the "f" out of "shift" knows where I'm coming from. And has potentially been in deep ...
And there is also the understanding that not being at least somewhat careful about spelling connotes a certain lack of intellectual rigor that doesn't exactly build confidence. Sort of like holding a press conference at a landscaping business next to a crematorium and an adult novelty shop instead of in a nice hotel in a big city.
This year has been fraught with all sort of things, not the least of which is a general sense that the world has both gone and is mad. And part of that might be that we're more interested in talking (or shouting) than in being understood.
So here's hoping in the days ahead we return to more civil and interactive communication. And that we take the trouble to make sure that communication is clear. That would be a great shift. Not ... well, you know.
It's also worth remembering that people who correct spelling are often either trying to be helpful or seeking clarity. People who correct grammar tend to die alone. Just saying.
Gary Smith is a recovering journalist living in Rogers.