Sunday, August 14, 2011

Hunting the Wild Cantelope

Spelling has never been my strong suit. Who am I kidding... I generally consider myself lucky if the scrawled markings I create can even be interpreted as written language.

So recently I made the switch from Internet Explorer to Google Chrome, which has a built-in spell checker.

Now on the one hand this is great because it means my ability to communicate with other humans is much improved. But on the other hand it totally sucks because it's forced me to own up to the magnitude of the problem.

Anyhow, recently I was in some situation where I was typing the word "cantelope"... only Chrome insisted that "cantelope" was not a word, and suggested instead that I try "cantaloupe".

WHAT?!? No Cantelope? Aw come on... I've been spelling it that way my entire life. I mean it sounds like "antelope" shouldn't it be spelled the same?

But no... apparently the wild cantelope is a rare creature known only to the abysmal spellers of the planet.

Geez... and according to Chrome, there are no such colors as fusha or chartruse either.

Ug... Actually, my language problems extend far beyond spelling. I think it has to do with being an aurally focused person (as opposed to orally... but I am that too) And don't EVEN get me started on homonyms... my personal opinion is that it a linguistic device created for the express purpose of torturing people like me.

But I digress... To tell the truth, I just have a real hard time connecting written and spoken words. I remember one time I had to read out loud in English Grammar class. I read an entire chapter about "deeter-miners" before I realized we were talking about determiners!

I'm sure these guys struck a rich vein of "deeter"
Oy Vay! And to make it worse, nobody bothered to correct me! It's like the time in high school when we were reading "Waiting for Godot". Yup... I was waiting for him too because in my copy the only character they talked about was some dude named "Go-Dot!" I'm sure "Go-Dot" must have been some precursor to the dot-com boom...

And it hasn't improved much over the years either. Just a few weeks ago I was reading one of Aldra's posts over on Consciously Frugal where she mentioned being a dogooder. I spent the whole time going "what on earth is a "dog-ooder?!?"

And just the other day I was telling CatMan how the only way I made it through school was by using pneumatic devices. He looked at me and said "Honey, I think you mean mnemonic devices."

Ah yes... the pneumatic device... because we all know how the iron lung improves memory!

I am at least comforted by the fact that I'm not the only person who suffers from this affliction. A dear friend of mine once told me that in an effort to become more "worldly" in her youth, she decided to read the morning newspaper. She proudly waltzed into her parents' room and proclaimed "Have you heard about the war in Nigh-cara-gooah?"

But the one that takes the cake was a friend from high school who got into Brown University. Actually, our whole little group of friends wanted to go to Brown, but she was the only one who got accepted. (It still puzzles me because she had the worst grades of any of us... maybe it was because her parents were rich and we were all broke.) But anyhow, after our first year at school we were all back home together and we asked her how it was at Brown. I think she wanted to make us all feel better, and she had no idea the extent to which she was about to make me feel better when she said, "Well... it's OK, but there are lots of "suede-o" intellectuals."

Oh, the lofty suede-o intellectuals. What do you suppose has become of them? My theory is that they're all down in Nigh-cara-gooah hanging out with the dog-ooders, using pneumatic devices, arguing about the proper use of deeter-miners, waiting for Go-Dot and hunting the wild cantelope!

Oh, help me sweet Jesus!


  1. ROTFLOL, my sides are hurting....
    Thank you!!!

  2. Oh man! I totally cracked up on this one.

    My problem is frequent usage of British spelling (colour, neighbour) which is how I learned it but not the way MS Word or US of A likes it. And I hate that I do that.

  3. Oh dear, now I feel really guilty for inflicting British slang on you! On top of my British spelling, that must make my blog almost unreadable. Sorry :-(

    But Sam... don't hate yourself for spelling words correctly ;-)

  4. Jay - I'm so glad you appreciate my warped humor. I've been cracking myself up picturing the a herd of "cantelope" for days now.

    Sam - I wouldn't worry about using British spelling if I were you... it just makes you seem cultured!

    Rachel - Blimey! To tell the truth, it's probably easier for me to understand your blog than it would be to understand you in person! Once when I was on a train in Europe some guys from Scotland tried to strike up a conversation with me. I had them rolling on the floor with laughter because I kept saying "ich kann nicht deutsch sprechen!" I swear their speech didn't sound remotely like English to me!

    Fonda - I've never hears of "Sherrly English," but it couldn't possibly be any worse than the "traditional" education that I got!

  5. One of the things I always notice is if I think too hard about the spelling of something, I'm gonna mess up. That and I still have to repeat those childhood rhymes: i before e, except after c, etc...

    That had to have been hysterical for the Scotsmen!

    I went to a school in the south populated mostly with students from the northeast; as a "southerner" I would frequently have to "translate" when out and about :-))!

    As usual, great graphics.

  6. Why isn't phonics spelled like it sounds?


  7. Jay - Ha! I have the same trouble with music. If I go on auto-pilot, the chords and lyrics are right there, but if I stop to think about it I'm totally screwed. And with words I can't look at them too carefully or they just turn into "word salad." It's like the letters completely fall apart and all I see is a strange collection of lines and curves.

    Sandy - I think you have asked the $10,000 question with that one!

  8. Interesting. Besides the motor issues, my oldest "kid" also has low vision and a visual processing disorder; "word salad" is an excellent way of describing what faces and words look like in this disorder.

  9. This is awesome, thanks for the laugh. I would never mock. The timing is priceless though.

  10. If it makes you feel any better, I don't think "dogooder" is actually a word (firefox put a red squiggly line under it just so that I know that I'm WRONG). I just make shit up. It's easier than actually learning.

  11. Jay - "Word Salad" is actually a word one of my therapists used to use. I have no idea what's happening mentally when it occurs, but it's pretty freaky.

    Barefeet - I just about died laughing when I saw your post... not to mention I was seriously jealous that you could actually spell it, let alone make it into a culinary work of art!

    CF - A-HA!!! So it's all YOUR fault! :~)

  12. haha oh man, I had to laugh at the pneumatic devices! :)

    One of the things I loved while learning German in high school was the phonetic spelling. It made everything so much easier.

    1. When I'm in charge, all languages will be phonetic. And BTW, I think it must be some sort of cruel joke that the word "phonetic" isn't spelled phonetically!


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