Celebrating The Power of the Printed Word: Part 4
Celebrating The Power of the Printed Word: Part 4.

Here’s the fourth of 12 ads from the 1982 “Power of the Printed Word” ad campaign by International Paper Company. I’m offering the series as an inspiration to your staff, co-workers – and you – to communicate more effectively and understand the benefits of doing so – not just at work but in life.


Fourth in the series:  “How to spell” by John Irving

The most successful person I know – someone whose work has taken her to more than 50 countries and earned her numerous national and international awards – is a lousy speller. It seems incongruous, of course, but, as it turns out, spelling is indeed an aptitude separate from one’s general intelligence. “Around 60 percent of the variation in the ability to spell lies in one’s genes,” which, says Tony Monaco, a scientist at England’s Oxford University, dictate how our brains develop. And, according to Monaco’s Oxford colleague John Stein, spelling and reading require a phenomenal amount of brain power: Stein says simply deciphering this sentence, and all forms of the written word, is the most complex task your brain will face. (You can learn more at http://www.dys-add.com/resources/RecentResearch/SpellingGene.pdf.)

In this fourth installment, author John Irving muses about tricks to spell better. Back in 1982, he had a hard-copy dictionary, but I’m confident anything he says would transfer nicely to someone who’s accessing a dictionary online.

Finally, if you’re thinking “spell-check,” I’d say that’s a wobbly chair on which to be leaning: How many of you have received a text message with a misspelling followed by another in rapid succession: “Make that ‘____.’ Damned auto-correct!”?

Pull quote: “George Bernard Shaw demonstrated how ridiculous some spelling rules are. By following the rules, he said, we could spell fish this way: ghoti. The ‘f’ as it sounds in enough, the ‘i’ as it sounds in women and the ‘sh’ as it sounds in fiction.”