Writing at Work: A Guide to Better Writing in Administration, Business and Management

By Robert Barrass | Go to book overview
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Appendix 2

Spelling

Mistakes in spelling, as with mistakes in punctuation and grammar, reduce an educated reader’s confidence in a writer. They also distract readers, taking their attention away from the writer’s message. Spelling correctly, therefore, is part of efficient communication.


Some reasons for poor spelling

Some words are not spelt as they are pronounced: for example, answer (anser), gauge (gage), island (iland), mortgage (morgage), psychology (sycology), rough (ruff), sugar (shugar) and tongue (tung). You cannot, therefore, spell all words as you pronounce them. This is one problem for people who find spelling difficult.

However, those who speak badly are likely to find that incorrect pronunciation does lead to incorrect spelling. In lazy speech secretary becomes secatray; environment, enviroment; police, pleece; computer, compu’er; and so on. If you know that you speak and spell badly, take more care over your speech.

Unfortunately, the speech of teachers and that of announcers on radio and television does not necessarily provide a reliable guide to pronunciation. Consult a dictionary, therefore, if you are unsure of the pronunciation or spelling of a word. And, when you consult a dictionary to see how a word is spelt, check the pronunciation at the same time. Knowing how to pronounce the word correctly, you may have no further difficulty in spelling it correctly.

If you do not read very much, you give yourself few opportunities for increasing your vocabulary (see pages 130-1) and for seeing words spelt correctly. Reading good prose will help you in these and other ways.

-180-

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