“So You Think You Can Spell?”

So You Think You Can Spell by David L. Grambs and Ellen S. LevineI thought so until I leafed through this book sent to me by the publisher. 

It contains more than 200 spelling tests and quizzes.  And it’s small enough to slip into a bag, briefcase or purse to fill those unexpected nothing moments usually entertained by mindless checking of one’s Blackberry or iPhone. 

This new spelling adventure by David L. Grambs and Ellen S. Levine — subtitled Killer Quizzes for the Incurably Competitive and Overly Confident — has driven me into enough doubt to make me thankful for spellchecker and my Oxford American Dictionary

The book’s introduction says a random survey of 2,500 people between the ages of 18 and 60 found that 40 percent of them couldn’t identify the correct spelling of questionnaire.

OK, I know how to spell questionnaire, but multiple choice tests scramble my brain. They were the bane of my youth. (No fair, I say! Ask me to write it down or spell it out loud and I’ll get it right.) 

Spelling, as the authors point out, disregards age, gender, diplomas, professional titles, haughty accents and literary and literati snobbery. “… the well-read are not always the well-spelled,” they emphasize.

Give it a try with these examples from the book.  You are to choose the correct spelling. (Here’s a link to dictionary.com, in case you become dazed and confused.)

  • herculian/herculeian/herculaean/herculaean/herculean
  • passamentery/passementerie/passimenterie/passimentery
  • strycknine/strichnine/strychnine/strichnyne
  • tynitis/tinnitus/tinitus/tinitis
  • bonnehommie/bonhommie/bonhomie/bonnehomie
  • tamboureen/tamboreen/tamborine/tambourine

Obviously, word addicts will love this book. I don’t happen to be one, but I know someone who is. With the holiday season approaching, it will be a great gift.

FYI: My spellchecker picked up the misspellings in the above bulleted list; however, it identified all the words in the second bullet point as wrong. One, though, is indeed correct, proving we can’t depend on spellchecker. BTW, passementerie is a “decorative textile trimming consisting of gold or silver lace, gimp, or braid.” (Thank you Oxford American Dictionary.)

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