Proofreading Matters –

The world of instant messaging has seen some major spelling mistakes. Often my cell phone technology will replace the word I wrote with a word it thinks I meant to write. As a result, I sent some pretty strange notes to family and friends. Most people are friendly about it. Some say nothing, decipher a little and move on. Not my son Justin. He always asks me about it. Pretty sarcastic, I might add. Maybe next time I’ll think about proofreading. Here’s a sample taken straight from my phone.

Me: “Come on Justin, I’m going to splash with the grandkids.”

Justin: “I see. Thank you for teaching them the intricacies of food presentation.”

Me: “PLAY! I’ll play with them! Sheesh.”

I got it wrong so many times that he felt compelled to point out that I must be writing a bunch of lousy text messages for someone who considers himself a writer. He wasn’t wrong.

I see funny phrases written by cute, well-meaning kids every day at school. Just like me, they don’t want to misspell words. Their intentions are pure, but their meaning is lost in translation. It often boils down to omitting a tiny letter.

Here are a few examples.

-Jim went home, ate a snake and watched TV.

It’s reasonable to assume Jim didn’t actually eat a snake while relaxing in front of the TV. Instead, he probably ate a snack. However, the image of Jim eating a snake after school paints a far more interesting picture.

-The turkeys were very holy and ran away.

Since that memorable sentence was written around Thanksgiving, I can safely say the turkeys were more scared than holy. Otherwise, eating said birds could border on blasphemy.

– We used chicken balls to flavor our soup.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but while chicken bouillon is a flavorful broth, I have a feeling that incorporating the farmyard chicken rolls into a soup or other dish would not enhance the flavor. It would also not meet Canadian food safety standards.

-Dark Vader put on his glasses.

Obviously, Dark Vader must be Darth’s brother, and no doubt wearing his glasses must be a secret code known only to these two insidious villains.

Last week children learned to underline dialogue by copying a sentence from the blackboard. Spelling always counts, of course, but it wasn’t the focus of this lesson until I read a child’s interpretation of the following sentence.

“Cool shirt,” Sue said.

I read over this young girl’s shoulder and watched her print the line.

“Cool shit,” Sue said.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t the same at all. Notice how a small letter can make all the difference? We quickly found an eraser.

Yes, it’s easy to see how simple mistakes can be made with a missing or swapped letter, but doesn’t that make it all the more interesting? None of these sentences would otherwise have made headlines. While they command attention, they underscore the need for a renewed commitment to proofreading before sending your words out into the world.

Your Turley,


Helen lives on the family farm near Marshall, Saskatchewan, where she works as an author, columnist and in education. Find her online at There you can find out more about her humorous Prairie Wool Books or the newly released fantasy series Runestaff Chronicles.

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