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Spelling Mistakes on Twitter – Do They Matter?

It happens to everyone at one time or another. You have the best intentions, but you’re rushing or you’re typing on your phone or you think it looks okay until you hit “send now.”

And then your spelling mistake or typo is there for all to see.

The question is – does it matter?

Well, if you’re a celebrity, perhaps.

World famous chef @jamieoliver found out the hard way, after he wrote this post:

“anouther true story a massive amount of uk farmers use human waist as fertiliser on there land! do any other countrys do this? is this normal”

@Funditfrog replied with:

“Not being funny fella but 4 spelling mistakes? You’re influencing a generation of kids, you owe it them to be correct. Agree?”

Jamie shot back:

“Get lost you idiot im dislexic and i cant spell so stick that in your pipe! its better than being smug.”

But it seems that most people understand that there are certain liberties that you can take in the restricted space of Twitter.

After all, new rules were created just for this very platform. Punctuation is sometimes implied, rather than used and short forms are created due to lack of space.

The lack of caps, however, was used on email long before Twitter was on the scene. And grammar is something that while it does rile up the crowd, historically it has changed with the times. For example, sentence fragments used to cause audible gaps amongst the literati, but many award-winning authors (Margaret Atwood, Chuck Palahniuk and John Steinbeck, to name just a few) rely on them now as part of their writing style.

While a recent article in The Globe & Mail says that experts blame “Cellphone texting and social networking on Internet sites” on our decreasing writing skills, perhaps they should note that spelling is no longer being taught in schools, people don’t handwrite as much as they used to and now we have computers to correct our mistakes.

The times have changed and sometimes the rules are meant to be broken.

And don’t assume it’s just young ‘uns who are guilty of this – the US Treasury Dept has 12 possible spellings for Moammar Gadhafi.

So have a sense of humour about the typos and spelling mistakes, like @CameronSmall101 who tweeted “peperoni pizza and mosserella sticks for tea, oh the spelling mistakes.” And show some empathy towards folks like Lex Leosis, a.k.a. @MissAlexxx, who apologizes for any mistakes, but she is “so burnout from studying.”

Twitter is the most powerful tool we’ve got and what’s important is the message, not how it’s written. I’m not condoning spelling mistakes, but in this frenetic-paced world, you’ve got to allow for some errors along the way, especially when you’re typing into a phone where the keys are the size of a Tic Tac.

p.s. If all those mistakes in your feed are really bothering you, take The Twitter Spelling Test and tweet your awesome results for all to see.

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