The Aardvark Speaks : essence, effervescence, obscurity. Established 2002. A weblog by Horst Prillinger. ISSN 1726-5320

June 18, 2007


(1) The correct spelling: definitely
(2) The spelling most widely used on the Internet: definately
(3) The spelling that came out when I typed it a while ago, probably because I had seen (2) too often: defiantly
(4) The spelling used on a website that I visited today: defeniately

Posted by Horst on June 18, 2007 07:50 PM to creatures great & small | Tell-a-friend
Jann said on June 20, 2007 04:14 PM:

This is why "spelling" is taught as a subject for the first eight grades in schools in the US. Also why people should use their "spell check" features. I used my spelling and grammar check feature on both (2) and (4) above; in both cases the misspelled word appeared in red and the correctly spelled word was suggested as a substitute.

I use the spelling check mostly to check for typos. The grammar part needs to be ignored. The other day it (inexplicably) tried to get me to change "I am" to "I are" !!

nora said on June 20, 2007 05:37 PM:

just the other day my husband and i were talking about the spelling of "definitely", which is spelled incorrectly by even some of our really smart friends.
growing up in circles where you were considered socially deviant if you didn't spell correctly, i am wondering a lot about the approach to spelling here in north east usa. basically, teachers let you spell whatever until third grade, and then they start to deprogram the kids.
i have a daughter who spells correctly and a son who dose'nt (sic!). in earlier grades,when it came to 'big' words, i would have asked him to say the word in german and then the spelling seemed to work (like stayshun, for example). at his previous school, none of the teachers would correct his spelling other than in spelling tests.
it broke my toefl heart.

Jann said on June 22, 2007 07:34 AM:

I remember a physician I worked with in Buffalo being very unhappy that her son's fifth grade teacher refused to correct his spelling or grammar in writing assignments, even though the child in question wanted to know when he made a mistake. The theory, apparently, was that enforcing correct spelling and grammar would interfere with a child's creativity; nonsense in my opinion.

I think it was sometime in the 1970's that many American school systems decided that it was more important to "teach" self-esteem than subject matter. But children develop self-esteem by facing challenges and proving to themselves that they can overcome obstacles, not by having the teacher write "Good try!" on the paper when they fail a test.

Diana Eastment said on June 29, 2007 12:50 AM:

I have a loathing of the "definately" spelling. But without wishing to be a pedant, it is emphatically NOT "the spelling most widely used on the Internet". The wonderful Googlefight,, which lets you do two simultaneous searches, reveals that "definately" currently gets a mere 16 million hits, compared with 132 million for "definitely".

A propos of nothing at all, my current favourite word is "syzygy". One of the many good things about it is that it is almost never mis-spelled.

Nice to have you back blogging, Horst!

Horst said on June 29, 2007 01:40 AM:

My master thesis contains a chapter on "antisyzygy". It confused the hell out of people at the time.

chris dono said on July 4, 2007 02:52 PM:

Ha ha! As with many abominations of the English language, it isn't the English who misspell, but the Americans...
Although, to be fair, I once heard that English used to sounds like the current american usage (ie. using the letters R and T)

Jann said on July 9, 2007 08:35 PM:

As it happens, I was watching a repeat of "NUMB3RS" last night; one of the characters mentioned "syzygy," and said something about perfect alignment of celestial bodies. My dictionary also has another definition, "any two related things." Would that be like spelling and
grammar? It bothers me only a little to see misspelled words, but it grates on my nerves to hear, on a daily basis, college educated people saying things like, "They invited he and I to go with them and we should have went." When I was in school, they didn't let us out of fourth grade if we didn't know when to say "He and I" and when to say "Him and me," and "Should have went" makes me want to throw my hands up.

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