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Quiz: how good are you at spelling?

The English language is tricky – there are no arguments there. Spelling is, and has always been, somewhat problematic, and we can attribute that to a pattern of irregularity in letter pronunciation that affects 25% of English words. There are so many rules, but there are almost as many exceptions to those rules. Frankly it’s no surprise that, in an age where technology aids us in so many ways, we turn to autocorrect to spell our words for us.

But does that render spelling a redundant skill? The internet has an abundance of opinion pieces on the dying art of spelling thanks to autocorrect. However, Dr Antonia Pont, a Senior Lecturer in Writing and Literature at Deakin University, is keen to acknowledge the positives of spellcheck technologies.

‘It’s really amazing to have a program to check your spelling. I think a student could absolutely use a spellchecker to learn about their own writing practices. It’s like a little robot friend that teaches you some basic stuff that maybe a human never had time to teach you.

‘It just depends on whether you offload the work to the robot, or you work together with the robot – which is sort of interesting and a bit cyborg-y – to also increase your own capacity, rather than to just let something else take over your capacity,’ Dr Pont says.

'I think a student could absolutely use a spellchecker to learn about their own writing practices.'

Dr Antonia Pont,
School of Communication and Creative Arts, Deakin University

While many people might dislike, or even detest spelling, Dr Pont highlights that just as many people find a real enjoyment or fascination in it.

‘There’s heaps of people who go down that rabbit hole and find a lot of joy there. They’re often the poets and the writers who really love the structure of words, in the same way a photographer might love to nerd out in front of camera catalogues.

‘But someone else may say, “Well, I have no interest in learning how to spell. It really stumped me in school, and I’m really glad I don’t have to be stressed about it,”’ she says.

Dr Pont also notes that, because of texting and social media, people are writing more than they ever have.

‘It’s not like the written word itself is threatening to die – it’s just changing radically. People are inventing new ways to use words and abbreviations.

‘No one is going to die from a few spelling mistakes,’ Dr Pont laughs. ‘And, luckily we have these amazing tech tools that can assist us.’

Whether you’re a fan of autocorrect or not, here’s your chance to put your spelling skills to the test…

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Dr Antonia Pont
Dr Antonia Pont

Senior Lecturer in Writing and Literature, School of Communication and Creative Arts, Deakin University

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