9.29.2021 – thinking one way to

thinking one way to
spell words obviously lacks

“Anyone who can only think of one way to spell a word obviously lacks imagination.”

So the WWW says Mark Twain said.

I also love to quote Mr. Twain as saying, “It is a poor sort of person who can only spell a word in one way.”

I dislike to use the WWW as a source if the source is nothing more than page of quotes and I am not alone.

The website, https://quoteinvestigator.com/, is available and these folks work to verify who said what when.

Sadly they cannot attribute either statement to Mr. Twain.

So I have to now say, “… as Mark Twain is reported to have said …”

Spelling has been on my mind of late.

Over the weekend last (Sept 25th) a member of the Ohio State football team quit the team in the middle of the game and took to Twitter to give vent to his feelings.

The story I saw reported that the player, K’Vaughan Pope, “tweeted ‘… Ohio State’ (expletive deleted AND misspelled).” [sic]

I had to laugh.

I mean it has long been known in the online world that I live in that any story about Ohio State football gets twice as many page views as any other any sports story.

The Ohio State fan who clicks on the story.

And the person who reads it to them.

That an Ohio State football player couldn’t spell a deleted expletive … was really funny.

Most expletives that get deleted are four letter words.

Just four letters.

I admit I had to puzzle out what Mr. Pope might have tweeted and it wasn’t until the next day that I came across a screen grab that showed that he tweeted ‘fucc Ohio State.’

Picking on athletes for their intellect is as old as any game.

James Thurber writes in the short story “University Days‘ of the entire class body, Professor included, working with a star football to name a form of transportation.

The scene is captured in Thurber’s sketch of Bolenciecwz trying to think.

Another course that I didn’t like, but somehow managed to pass, was economics. I went to that class straight from the botany class, which didn’t help me any in understanding either subject. I used to get them mixed up. But not as mixed up as another student in my economics class who came there direct from a physics laboratory. He was a tackle on the football team, named Bolenciecwcz. At that time Ohio State University had one of the best football teams in the country, and Bolenciecwcz was one of its outstanding stars. In order to be eligible to play it was necessary for him to keep up in his studies, a very difficult matter, for while he was not dumber than an ox he was not any smarter. Most of his professors were lenient and helped him along. None gave him more hints, in answering questions, or asked him simpler ones than the economics professor, a thin, timid man named Bassum. One day when we were on the subject of transportation and distribution, it came Bolenciecwcz’s turn to answer a question. “Name one means of transportation,” the professor said to him. No light came into the big tackle’s eyes. “Just any means of transportation,” said the professor. Bolenciecwcz sat staring at him. “That is,” pursued the professor, “any medium, agency, or method of going from one place to another.” Bolenciecwcz had the look of a man who is being led into a trap. “You may choose among steam, horse-drawn, or electrically propelled vehicles,” said the instructor. “I might suggest the one which we commonly take in making long journeys across land.” There was a profound silence in which everybody stirred uneasily, including Bolenciecwcz and Mr. Bassum. Mr. Bassum abruptly broke this silence in an amazing manner. “Choo-choo-choo,” he said, in a low voice, and turned instantly scarlet. He glanced appealingly around the room. All of us, of course, shared Mr. Bassum’s desire that Bolenciecwcz should stay abreast of the class in economics, for the Illinois game, one of the hardest and most important of the season, was only a week off. “Toot, toot, too-tooooooot!” some student with a deep voice moaned, and we all looked encouragingly at Bolenciecwcz. Somebody else gave a fine imitation of a locomotive letting off steam. Mr. Bassum himself rounded off the little show. “Ding, dong, ding, dong,” he said, hopefully. Bolenciecwcz was staring at the floor now, trying to think, his great brow furrowed, his huge hands rubbing together, his face red.

“How did you come to college this year, Mr. Bolenciecwcz?” asked the professor. “Chuffa chuffa, chuffa chuffa.”

“M’father sent me,” said the football player.

“What on?” asked Bassum.

“I git an ‘lowance,” said the tackle, in a low, husky voice, obviously embarrassed.

“No, no,” said Bassum. “Name a means of transportation. What did you ride here on?”

“Train,” said Bolenciecwcz.

Quite right,” said the professor. “Now, Mr. Nugent, will you tell us–“

Bolenciecwz trying to think.

Shoeless Joe Jackson of Field of Dreams fame was famously uneducated.

One story has a fan yelling, “Hey Joe, can you spell CAT?”

And Joe yells back, “Hey Buddy, can you spell S H * T?”

Patrick Ewing of the New York Knicks (and maybe more famous for his years at Georgetown) was reportedly unable to spell ESPN unless you gave him two letters.

Never the less, today, in the age of twitter I find it a bit disingenuous on the part of the world at large and the sports world in particular to take on anyone over spelling.

Take me, for one.

I couldn’t spell my way out of a paper bag.

If my life were to be graded on spelling I wouldn’t make the list let alone the bottom of the list.

AND … don’t forget, Mr. Pope was so upset he had to TWEET before he could anything else!

The extent to which I can rely on my opposable thumbs to hit the right letters while texting or tweeting is not something I would ever want to be graded on.

Spelling in the age of social media may be having the legs of its seat at table of required talents being sawn off as we speak.

On the one hand, of course we want to be pretty specific with the written word.

On other other, don’t we all know what was meant to said?

In his book, Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West, the somewhat discredited and so I question my need to quote him but, Stephen Ambrose, writes about Lewis and Clark on the spelling of the word, mosquito, that, “His [Lewis] usual spelling, repeated at least twenty-five times, was “musquetoe.” Clark was more inventive: he had at least twenty variations, ranging from “mesquetors” through “misqutr” to “musquetors.”

The word Mr. Ambrose uses to describe the spelling of Lewis and Clark is ‘imaginative.’

Which circles back to Mr. Twain.

Anyone who can only think of one way to spell a word obviously lacks imagination.

Whether or not Mr. Twain said this and if he didn’t say I would bet he would have wanted to say it.

I will embrace imagination.

I will embrace less rigid spelling.

And I will paraphrase Mr. Twain.

When angry count to three.

When very angry, tweet.

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