Because Smart People Can't Be Wrong

Last fall I posted about how many people erroneously spell dilemma as dilemna.  That post continues to get comments and I always get a kick out of the comments.

Apparently, many people who consider themselves quite intelligent have been spelling the word wrong.  I had been spelling it wrong all of my life, too, as had my husband.  Both of us were surprised since we considered ourselves good spellers.  Then we learned the right spelling and moved on.

Not so for many folks out there in cyberspace.

I am amazed at how many people seem to have this train of thought:

“I’m very smart and I was taught that it had an N.  Therefore, all of the dictionaries are wrong and I’m still right.”



Take this bit, for instance, from a reader who considers herself “an excellent speller”:

I would like to point out that language is an ever growing and changing discipline. By the mere fact that there are so many people spelling this word this way it has become an alternate spelling (even if the folks at Merriam Webster don’t yet agree).

She goes on…

Dictionaries are a resource for language not the owners of it. The speakers and writers of a language are the ones that make the rules and drive change. … They are the record keepers of our language, they can exert no power over how we speak or write.

Really?  They can exert no power over how we speak or write?  Well no, they can’t, but they can say whether it’s WRONG or not.

Another reader who considers herself too smart to have ever been wrong about anything wrote:

Ellie is correct~~language is an ever changing discipline. Think about Old English and how much has changed since then. Once a common spelling (or mispelling) of a word is considered the norm, it is often accepted as an alternative spelling, or replaces the original version altogether. I, too, was taught to spell it dilemna. We weren’t all taught wrong! We’re just falling victim to a younger society whose parents/teachers didn’t bother to correct their mispellings & now that they’re the decision makers, they find it easier to go with the accepted mispellings than to admit they’re altering the language even further.

Oh.  Of course, all the rest of YOU were taught wrong, and we had it right.  Then all those dopes who didn’t spell it right accidentally corrupted every single dictionary in the world.  Yeah, that’s what happened.

(Incidentally, Sweetie, you also spelled “misspell” wrong.)

Good grief.  We all learned wrong.  I’m over it!  Can’t we all accept it and move on?

Spell it with me: DILEMMA.

See, not even a bolt of lightning.


8 thoughts on “Because Smart People Can't Be Wrong

  1. Sounds like a very emotive issue!!
    I bet somewhere out there is a whole website dedicated to debates about spelling, grammar and punctuation. Fortunately I have visitors coming so will have to use my time cleaning instead of exploring cyberspace to find it just for fun!

    .-= Vanessa´s last blog ..A mammoth month! =-.


  2. Oh my! I remember that post and I, like you, was surprised that I had been spelling it wrong all these years. I consider myself an excellent speller, but guess what?! I’m not perfect. Seriously, people need to accept it and move on. Sheesh!
    .-= Shady Lady´s last blog ..Art Museum…finally! =-.


  3. That’s crazy. I’ve never heard of spelling it dilemna. But I don’t consider myself to be a great speller either. Spellcheck has made me lazy in that respect. I’d be interested to hear about other words that are also so pervasively misspelled.
    .-= Caitlin´s last blog ..New Blog! =-.


  4. I’m a good speller, and lucky enough to have grown up in a country where words sound exactly the way they’re spelled. Dilemma has always been and will always be spelled that way. This is not just an English/American thing that certain super smart people simply chose to spell a different way. It’s an international word, existing in various language always spelled dilemma rather than dilemna. 🙂
    .-= suchlovelyfreckles´s last blog ..Rambling on… =-.


  5. I can spell pretty well, but use regularly – I’m terrified of making a mistake and looking like an idiot!

    (At least spelling is something I can control.)

    : )
    .-= Stephanie´s last blog ..april five =-.


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