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Spelling is a linguistic process of phonemic orthography (correct writing) with the necessary letters and diacritics present in a comprehensible order, usually with some degree of standardization; it is "the conventions which determine how the graphemes of a writing system are used to write a language".[1] In another words it is interpretation of speech sound (phoneme) into writing (grapheme). Spelling is one of the elements of orthography, and highly standardized spelling is a prescriptive element.

Spellings originated as transcriptions of the sounds of spoken language according to the alphabetic principle. They remain largely reflective of the sounds, although fully phonemic spelling is an ideal that most languages' orthographies only approximate, some more closely than others. This is true for various reasons, including that pronunciation changes over time in all languages, yet spellings as visual norms may resist change. In addition, words from other languages may be adopted without being adapted to the spelling system, and different meanings of a word or homophones may be deliberately spelled in different ways to differentiate them visually.

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  • ✪ Learn English - Basic rules to improve your spelling
  • ✪ Learn English For Kids | Spelling of 17 English Words
  • ✪ 2018 Mobile County Regional Spelling Bee


To be or not to be? [Laughs] Spelling bee. In North America, we have this competition called "spelling bee". It's where children take words -- adults give children words, long words, and the children have to spell them correctly. Now, if you're from Saudi Arabia or Japan or Korea or other countries, right now, you're going, "Oh, my God, no!" Because you have to do this in English, and your alphabet is not ours. Latin speakers tend to go, "Oh, we'll do very well", and you're bad as well. And you want a secret? I'm bad at spelling. So just share it between you and the other hundred thousand people watching this, okay? So I'm bad at spelling. You're bad at spelling. But I have to teach the rules at school, and I do. I actually do. And if you ask me something, I'll tell you the rule. But you might catch me spelling it incorrectly. So this lesson is for you and for me. And I call it Spelling 101. English is not a phonetic language. It makes it very difficult to learn how to spell. So I'm going to give you English or Spelling 101, which are two little rules that will help you spell when dealing with English vowels. "The long and the short of it", I like the call this lesson. It's a joke in there. The long and the short. Whatever. Okay. Let's go to the board. Are you hoping -- and "hope" is when you pray. You know? You say, "Please let me win the lottery. Really. I want to win the lottery. Please let me win the lottery. Please let that beautiful girl think I'm nice. Please let me pass the test. I hope. I hope. I hope. I wish. I pray." Or are you "hopping"? Are you hopping, like boink, boink, boink? Like a little bunny rabbit. Are you hopping? You notice one has a P, and one has two Ps. Some of you would have written this because you'd say, "Well it's more than 'hope'. It's long, right?" Because "hop" looks like this, h-o-p. "Hope" looks like this. And anybody from a natural language would probably say, "Well, E -- this must be the correct one." I would think so. It's the longer word. But not in English, no. We don't work like that. The shorter word gets it, and the longer word gets this. When I was I kid, I was always told: Short words, you double it. That's what it was. Okay. It made sense. But there's something a little more to it, and today, I'm going to make it easy for you. Now, there's a lesson that has been done called "The Magic E". Go check that out. That will help you -- you know, it's a longer lesson that gives you more examples. But just to give you an idea of long versus short, okay? The magic E states this: If you have -- let's look over here. "Wipe", for instance. This is an I, a long vowel sound. There's a consonant and then, an E. If the E is on the end of a word, you have a consonant and then, a long vowel sound. Okay? The E actually causes it to be "wipe", not "wip". Right? So here's how we change it. Because we know this E helps to modify this, we have to drop the E. Okay? Because it's actually silent. You think "wipe", so it looks like this. That's what it looks like. "Wipe", not "why-ppe". Sorry, people from Brazil. No "why-ppe". No "why-ppe" here. Okay? That's part of the problem. Nobody tells you this stuff. But I do. Okay. So it's not "why-ppe" or "ray-tte" or "ho-ppe", just "hope", "rate", and "wipe". Now, the magic E helps us because we see this, and we know it's a long vowel sound. Yay! But when we're adding is it like, "wipes" or "wiping", "rate" or "rated", hoped or hoping, we have to drop that E. We're told, "Drop the E." It's silent. It's not doing anything, anyway. It's like your unemployed brother in your basement. He's not doing anything. Get rid of him. So "wipe" becomes "wiped" or "wiping". Drop the extra E. Not "wipeed". All right? "Rate" becomes "rated". Oops. Sorry. It becomes "rated". Just add the ED. Or "hoping", in the case up there, it becomes "hoping". We get rid of the extra E. We know it's the long vowel because there's only one consonant. Right? One consonant. One consonant. So we know this must be "wiped", "rated", "hoping". It could even be "hoped". "I hoped you would come." Okay? Don't double the consonant. Don't add two E's. It's just single, single. Easy? Easy. The magic E. Now, we know how it creates a sound. And now, we know how to change it. That's the long of it. The long vowel. You like that? Let's go to the short vowel. Ready? Hold on. It's a long walk. The board's long. Okay. Now, we're here. Okay, so we're on the other end of the board. Short vowel syndrome. Well, in North America we have Short Man Syndrome. Why are you looking at me? I'm incredibly tall. Can't you see? Where's the worm? Mr. E is this tall. He's very sad about it. I am of course, taller than E. That's all we need to know. Moving on. Okay. Short Man syndrome. In North America, we say "Short Man Syndrome" -- like Napoleon, if you're small. They say short men like to feel big, so they buy big cars. Okay? They wear big shoes. Okay? Or they wear big clothes to make them seem bigger. Okay? So a short man will make himself try to look bigger to be more impressive. Funny enough, this is what happens with our short vowels. When you have a word that -- like "hop" -- has a shorter vowel sound, like the short man, he doesn't like that "hope" is longer. So he tries to be bigger. So when "hope" adds ING, he goes, "No. I'm not 'hope'. I'm 'hoping'." And he makes more consonants. So when we have a short vowel sound, we double the consonants. So if it ends in a P and this is a short vowel, you've got to double that consonant. Okay? Let's get some more examples because I know it sounds confusing. But look: "ship". It's not "shipe". If you're Scottish, it's "shite". No. It's not "shipe", it's "ship". It's with a short I. So unlike here where it's long and there's no E -- there's no magic E -- we have to add another P. Short vowel syndrome. And you can say, "It was shipped last week." And now, look how big that word is. See? Small. Big. Short to tall. That's good. Okay? What up, pin? A little pin. Very little pin. Not much of a prick to it, is there? Anyway. Listen up. "Pinned". "It was pinned to a shirt." "Pinned." See? Once again, the little short man makes himself big. Short vowel syndrome. And how about this? Well, this is a -- I would say a fitting end to this conversation. You have to double the T. See? "Fit." "Fit", not "fite". "Fite" is different. "Fit". It's "fitting". "Pinned" and "shipped". Compare these ones to these ones. These words are longer [whispers] except this one. Don't look there. But these are longer. One. This is shorter. Short vowel syndrome. You know how it goes, Baby. So simple lesson. The long and the short of it. If it's a long vowel with one consonant and followed by an E -- the magic E -- drop the E, and add on your ending. ING, ED, just add it right on. If it's a short vowel sound with one consonant, double the consonant; then, add on your ending. This doubling of the consonant tells us it's a short sound so we know how to speak. So not only did I teach you spelling, you got pronunciation. Now -- sorry. We have more work to do. I almost forgot. But I haven't. Here are some examples, my little short friend. Let's go to the board. "I ask -- something -- my friend to taste my pie, and he rat -- it the best in the world." If I had rat pie, I would not be happy. So what do you think he said? I think he "asked" my friend to taste my pie, and he ra -- rate. That's a long sound. So we're going to go, "He rated it. Rated it." Okay? "The best in the world." What about the second one? "Was the whip -- cream" -- I've never seen a whip whip cream. But this is different. When you take milk or cream and you do this, it becomes sort of like ice cream. It's called "whipped". There's no whip involved, really. That would be weird. [Makes whipping sounds.] Anyway. So, "Was the whipped cream wip -- up off the floor?" So "whip", "whip". That's short, right? Short. What did we say about the short? Look he's not even happy. He's sad. Yeah. That's right. We're going to make it big. The "whipped" cream. Now, "wipe", I -- that's long. So "wiped" up off the floor. Yeah? I think so, too. I think it was "wiped up off the floor." So that's the long and short of our lesson. But there is one more. Here's the problem. I wasn't going to talk about it because it said -- the message on the board was, "Go to EngVid for the answer." That means you've got to go to the quiz because on the quiz, that question will be there. And then, I'll tell you. But if you don't go, you won't know. So where do you have to go? You have to go to, "eng" as in "English", "vid" as in "video", where you can see myself, the other teachers, go over this lesson, go check out the magic E, and get the answer to this particular question. And I know you're dying to find out what happened to the beautiful Persian cat. Anyway. E and me gots to go. Have a good day. And see you soon. Okay?


Spelling standards and conventions

Uniformity in the spelling of words is one of the features of a standard language in modern times, and official languages usually have standard spellings. However, this is a relatively recent development linked to the compiling of dictionaries, the founding of national academies and other institutions of language maintenance, including widespread education and literacy, and often doesn't apply to minority and regional languages.

In countries where there is an official language academy; such as France, the Netherlands, and Germany, reforms are regularly made so that spelling better matches the changing pronunciation.

Examples include:

English-language spelling reform proposals have been regularly made since the 16th century, but have made little impact apart from a few spellings preferred by Noah Webster having contributed to American and British English spelling differences.



Learning proper spelling by rote is a traditional element of elementary education and divergence from standard spelling is often perceived as an indicator of low intelligence, illiteracy, or lower class standing.[2]

Spelling tests are commonly used to assess a student's mastery over the words in the spelling lessons the student has received so far. They can also be an effective practice method. Spelling bees are competitions to determine the best speller of a group. Prominent spelling bees are even televised, such as the National Spelling Bee in the United States.


Divergent spelling is a popular advertising technique, used to attract attention or to render a trademark "suggestive" rather than "merely descriptive." The pastry chains Dunkin' Donuts and Krispy Kreme, for example, employ non-standard spellings.


A misspelling of purchased on a service station sign.
A misspelling of purchased on a service station sign.

While some words admit multiple spellings, some spellings are not considered standard, and thus labeled as misspellings. A misspelled word can be a series of letters that represents no correctly spelled word of the same language at all (such as "leik" for "like") or a correct spelling of another word (such as writing "here" when one means "hear", or "no" when one means "know"). Misspellings of the latter type can easily make their way into printed material because they are not caught by simple computerized spell checkers.

Misspellings may be due to either typing errors (e.g. the transposition error teh for the), or lack of knowledge of the correct spelling. Whether or not a word is misspelled may depend on context, as is the case with American / British English distinctions. Misspelling can also be a matter of opinion when variant spellings are accepted by some and not by others. For example, "miniscule" (for "minuscule") is a misspelling to many,[3] and yet it is listed as an acceptable variant in some dictionaries.[4][5]

A well-known Internet scam involves the registration of domain names that are deliberate misspellings of well-known corporate names in order to mislead or defraud. The practice is commonly known as "typosquatting".[6]

Notable English misspellings in history

  • Cleveland, Ohio – the leader of the crew that surveyed the town's territory was General Moses Cleaveland, and the region was named in his honor; reportedly the town's first newspaper, the Cleveland Advertiser, could not fit the town's name in its masthead without removing the first "a" from the name.[7]
  • Google – accidental misspelling of googol.[8] According to Google's vice president, as quoted on a BBC The Money Programme documentary, January 2006, the founders – noted for their poor spelling – registered Google as a trademark and web address before someone pointed out that it was not correct. It's possible Google took this spelling from Steve Martin's "Googlephonics" track from his 1979 album "Comedy Is Not Pretty." In it, he described Googlephonic as being "...the highest number of speakers before infinity."
  • Ovaltine, a popular bedtime drink in the UK and Australia, came about because someone misspelled the original name Ovomaltine on the trademark documentation.[citation needed]
  • Referer – common misspelling of the word referrer. It is so common, in fact, that it made it into the official specification of HTTP – the communication protocol of the World Wide Web – and has, therefore, become the standard industry spelling when discussing HTTP referers.[9]
  • Sequim, Washington – "In 1879 the first post office was built and named 'Seguin' for the surrounding area. [...] In 1907, due to a Postal Official's error in reading an official report, the post office was titled 'Seguim' for approximately a month. With the next report, the Official read the letter 'g' as a 'q' and the post office here became known as 'Sequim.' The name change apparently did not worry the residents enough to protest. It has been known as Sequim ever since."[10]
  • According to some, the name of Quartzsite, a mining town in Arizona, was spelled wrongly. It should be Quartzite, after the mineral quartzite.[11]
  • Zenith – Arabic zamt was misread; in Latin letters, at the time, the letter i was never dotted, so "m" looked like "ni".[12]
  • Arab, Alabama – This town in north Alabama was named Arad, after its founder, Arad Thompson, but the name was misspelled on a US Post Office map as "Arab", and the misspelled name stuck.

See also

English spelling
Other languages


  1. ^ Coulmas, F. (1996), The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Writing Systems, Oxford:Blackwells
  2. ^ 1992: Gaffe with an 'e' at the end, by Paul Mickle / The Trentonian
  3. ^ "miniscule", Merriam Webster's Online Dictionary; states that this spelling is "widely regarded as an error"
  4. ^ "miniscule", The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language
  5. ^ "miniscule", Cambridge Dictionary of American English
  6. ^ "Typosquatters Act May Apply to Misspelling Domain Names to Mislead Surfers", Shari Claire Lewis, New York Law Journal, September 15, 2004
  7. ^ Ohio, p. 138, Victoria Sherrow, Marshall Cavendish, 2008
  8. ^ QI: Quite Interesting facts about 100,
  9. ^ referer – Definitions from
  10. ^ Robinson, J. (2005). "Sequim History" (PDF). City of Sequim, Washington. Retrieved July 24, 2008.
  11. ^ Town of Quartzsite 2003 General Plan
  12. ^ Norbury, J. K. W. Word Formation in the Noun and Adjective.

Further reading

External links

This page was last edited on 16 January 2019, at 10:00
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