Much as I like to label myself as non-judgemental, I’m very quick to pounce on spelling errors and declare the authors intellectually deficient. (I don’t say this out loud of course.)

I know people who pick up on errors as quickly and as emotionally as I do. I hope this isn’t too unusual. I’m sure that everyone has some trigger or other, something that evokes an unreasonable response – out of proportion to the trigger itself.

I have been involved in hiring new appointees during my life. A CV or application form with even one spelling error resulted in me writing the applicant off as lazy, careless, unprofessional – a host of descriptors, of which none were likely apt.

I don’t go to a particular seafood restaurant because their slogan has an apostrophe in the wrong place. I know that sounds ridiculous, but their slogan is on every coaster and serviette, and I can’t avoid seeing it. So I go elsewhere.

I saw a recommendation this week by a highly opinionated local copywriter and blogger, Tiffany Markman, that people should be screened before being admitted to social media. If they can’t differentiate between “loose” and “lose”, or “quiet” and “quite”, or “two” and “too” and “to”, they shouldn’t be allowed in, says Tiffany. (She goes further, and suggests a simple comprehension test for potential social media users; people who fail are not admitted.) I feel her pain.

I don’t particularly like this aspect of myself. I know, in my rational mind, that the inability to spell does not equate to intellectual incapacity. I know it. I know and love people who cannot spell and who are highly capable and exceptionally proficient at what they do. But I still have an irrational reaction to a spelling error.

Why I wonder? Who taught me this? Who got this so ingrained in me that I can’t seem to rid myself of it? I don’t know. Much as I believe correct spelling is really important, I hope that people and systems today teach more tolerance than I seem to have learnt for spelling errors.

Amazingly, I’ve ended up living in a townhouse complex with a name that is incorrectly spelt. It’s missing an apostrophe. I judged the intellectual capacity of the developer immediately, but the townhouse was worth the irritation. I’ll push that issue post-COVID.