I’m definitely concerned about some individuals’ inability to spell.
The word “definitely” in particular seems to be a problem for many of my peers. We’ve all seen it. Maybe it’s someone returning a text: “I’m definately coming with you!” Perhaps somebody just posted a Facebook status about how some current event is “defenitely not acceptable.” In any case, it happens, and while I don’t condone such errors, I have to admit I can understand why they may have been made. Sounding out words that one can’t quite remember how to spell can result in mistakes with regard to a letter or two, particularly with ambiguous-sounding vowels.
But there are far worse mistakes.
One particular misspelling piques my curiosity: “defiantly.” Not only is it a senseless error, seeing as this spelling cannot actually be pronounced “definitely,” but it is a troublesome one as well. Unfortunately, this extent of illiteracy starts to affect meaning. “I’m defiantly going to school tomorrow,” one poor speller might say. Or, perhaps, a misinformed friend might declare that he’s “defiantly voting in the next election.” This is where it becomes a problem.
To clarify, Dictionary.com defines “defiance” as “a daring or bold resistance to authority or to any opposing force” or “open disregard; contempt.” Defiance implies impudence, rebelliousness and a general lack of amenability. Thus, taking the previous statements at face value, one is left wondering what is particularly mutinous or insolent about going to school. Furthermore, concerns may arise over the possibility that our fellow citizens may be casting votes in November based on principles such as spite and insubordination.
As a copy editor, a perfectionist and one who was a spelling bee enthusiast at the age of 14, I don’t know how to feel about this. It’s certainly amusing to imagine somebody walking defiantly into a lecture hall, ready to take careful notes for the upcoming midterm. It’s perfectly entertaining to picture another person defiantly filling out a ballot. Admittedly, then, the error creates shock value. But at the same time, the incorrect usage frightens me and upsets me. It should not be very difficult to make a distinction between two words. It should not be difficult to look up spellings and definitions when necessary.
Regardless, I sincerely hope to see some of my colleagues get their acts together and be a little less “defiant.” I must admit that the thought of constant defiance in mundane, everyday situations is tiresome and rather unpleasant, to say the least.
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