Chris Markiewicz's Blog
Every Monday – thoughts, observations and ideas that hold up a mirror to who & how we are

Accurracy or understanding?


I wonder how you have reacted (if at all) to the spelling error in the title of this post. Perhaps you let it go, thinking it a symptom of a bleary eyed Chris knocking out yet another post early on a Monday morning. On the other hand, you may be appalled.

This is one I feel really mixed about.

Barely a day goes by when I don’t see a post on Facebook pointing out a mis-spelling on a poster or document along with some kind of smug comment from the person sharing it. I’ve certainly posted things of that nature myself before now, recognising the value of maintaining consistency and high standards when writing.  Indeed, one of the few things I recall being particularly proud of at primary school was the high marks I got in spelling tests.

Yet, in just about every instance I’ve ever seen of a mis-spelling, the understanding of what’s been written hasn’t been compromised in any way.

And, isn’t any communication ultimately about creating understanding?

I’d say that, for example, vagueness and ambiguity are far worse “offences” than that of a misplaced letter within a particular word. The spelling error in the title above may well have rankled, but I’ll bet a pound to a penny that you understood it.

I’m kiurrius az too wot yor thawts ar on the toppik – y not coment and let mee no?

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2 Responses to “Accurracy or understanding?”

  1. I applaud the sentiment of this brief missive, Chris.

    As we become more culturally mixed in our society, so will the range of spoken languages diversify and the manner in which people write expand. For sure, communication between people is important – cross-culturally too – but understanding its meaning is essential.

    I was intrigued by the Government’s launch of the Social Media Decoding Dictionary for Concerned Parents http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3224254/Do-know-LOL-PAL-Government-launching-social-media-dictionary-help-parents-understand-children-s-online-code.html – now that’s another language to get your head around.

    More seriously, with an influx of Syrian refugees about to join us here in UK, we all need to become more tolerant of differences in culture and language, whether spoken or written. With that tolerance will come opportunities and a better chance of integration into the UK. It will also show an increased welcome.

    I feel a blog coming on.

    By the way – isn’t it time for a lunch?

  2. This is a topic very close to my heart. I am by nature a bit of a stickler for accuracy, but as you suggest, getting the message across is the important thing. My two top messages to delegates keen to improve their writing are 1. Think carefully about the intended readers – their level of understanding of the subject, their sensitivities, their needs and so on. This helps tone, encourages writers to provide appropriate context and steers them towards an appropriate level of formality. 2. Read twice before sending – once for spelling etc and once for content. Have you included all the information? Is it correct and up to date? Is there anything else you could have helpfully added?

    So, spelling gets a look-in but it is not top of the list.


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