Episode #647

June 26, 2021

It was in high school English class that i first learned about negotiation.

i have never been able to spell. When in high school there were no word processors or spell check applications. In fact, the only computer in the school did little more than run an Adventure game. Only the honors class had access to the computer.


My senior English final exam was divided between vocabulary and essay. 

The vocabulary section was based on the “Building Word Power” text book. We were to memorize the words, their meanings and spellings.

The essay section tested our ability to compose prose and answer questions on English writing topics, form correct grammatical sentences and communicate with the written word.

The rules of the test included that you be accurate with vocabulary and follow formatting rules in the essay section.
One of the rules in the essay section is that a grade point would be deducted for every spelling error.

i was doomed.

i knew that i would fail the test for spelling errors in the essay section.
My teacher also knew that i would fail.

We met after school the day before the test.

i proposed that i would be allowed a dictionary during the test.
My teacher considered the proposal and this was his offer:

“You may not have a dictionary during the vocabulary section. You must have memorized the spelling and meanings of the words by now.”
“You may have a dictionary in the essay section, but one spelling error will cause you to fail the section.”

i took the offer.

The vocabulary section went well since i had memorized the words in “Building Word Power.”
i was able to see my spelling errors in the essay section and look them up in the dictionary.
i caught them all.

This ability to see spelling errors found a practical application a few years later. i became the copy editor for “The Observer” college newspaper at Notre Dame. 

Nowadays i still cannot spell, but my word processor puts a red line under my misspellings. Sometimes i use a homophone by mistake, so i still employ a copy editor.

When i write this bLog, my wife is my copy editor. She can recognize spelling mistakes while proofing rules of communication. Sometimes the words i think are not the words i should use.

Like the agreement with my English teacher the rules that direct my current writing style are guidelines which always leave open the possibility of compromise and negotiation.


  1. Uschi Cook June 25, 2021
  2. Dennis Watson June 25, 2021
  3. Vic June 26, 2021

Leave a Reply