Guetapens, Not Gel Pens

Googe by Dennis, Flickr
Next time use Spellcheck?  I disagree.  Learn to spell.

We have become a society of lazy spellers.
Back in May, Snigdha Nandipati, a cool and collected 14 year-old from San Diego, won the 85th Scripps National Spelling Bee with the word “guetapens.” Everybody raise your gel pens to her! But not your guetapens, as that means ambush, trap or snare. 
This is rare nowadays:  a fourteen year-old who knows how to spell, or a thirty year-old for that matter. In a world of 140 characters or less and Spellcheck, everybody seems to be taking shortcuts. And we weren’t the best spellers in the first place.
While perusing a writing board a few weeks ago, I came across a story that had gross misspellings. I seriously couldn’t fathom a person making that many errors. First off, he evidently didn’t self-edit, and from the other easy fixes in his story, didn’t bother reading it at all before posting. But, self-editing and revising aside, the mere fact that in the process of writing he didn’t catch himself making those atrocities astounded me.
Someone suggested, “Next time, use Spellcheck.” I disagree. Learn to spell. Or use a dictionary.
Spellcheck only catches misspelled words, and only ones that have been input. For example, “guetapens” doesn’t pass Spellcheck muster. Perhaps it’s because it is a French derivation…I don’t know. Perhaps it’s because no one in their right mind should ever use guetapens in a story. When I looked up guetapens on, it asked, “Did you mean Gel Pens?” Granted, it’s an odd word, which is why it should never be used in fiction…well, never say never.
When we rely on Spellcheck to find our mistakes, the improper usage of their/they’re/there and your/you’re runs rampant. Grammar goes on holiday. Well pick up hour groceries form the store in an our, nun the wiser, because nothing is underlined in read.
Our society of lazy spellers will inevitably become career criminals who can’t get out of jail because their friends’ numbers are programmed on their cell phones (they’ve never bothered learning those, either) and they don’t know how to look them up in the phone book. Do you see where I’m going? Learn to spell (and memorize those phone numbers)!
My mom comes to me quite often seeking answers to her questions, the phone numbers and the correct spellings of words she’s forgotten. She has to. She simply can’t recall. Patiently and tenderly, I lead her into the answer to spark a memory, and most times she’s able to complete the number on her own.
We don’t need a program or anyone, save ourselves, to provide the answers for us. Take pride in your ability to learn and the gift of knowledge that’s been given you. Use your brain…do the footwork. You’ll feel so much more accomplished than when you rely on Spellcheck to clean up your slovenly txtng habits.
And anyone who has to spell Snigdha Nandipati on a daily basis shouldknow how to spell “guetapens.”  


2 thoughts on “Guetapens, Not Gel Pens

  1. You know me, write for love, think about editing later… maybe. It's my downfall and oh-so-much your strength. I'm envious. Thanx for righting this grate entree! Oh and NICE button over there ——————> 😉

  2. Doesn't that button add some much needed greenery to the blog? Thanks for the flowers.When we write with abandon, caution to the wind, and fingers flying along the keyboard, we are bound to have typos and misspellings. I don't know what it is, though, something ingrained in me, but I can catch those typos and misspellings as I make them…most times. It's a gift. :o)


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