I grew up an avid reader and writer. I also grew up not being able to spell for beans. Fortunately, the adults around me were supportive, appreciating that my poor spelling was not something evil, lazy, or even careless. No matter how carefully I proofread, my written work was rarely error-free. Spellcheckers came into existence when I was well into adulthood and while they have been an absolute godsend I still manage to get things wrong. I may check and recheck a blog post, publish it, and then go back some time later and notice a cringe-inducing error. Just the other day I posted something to a list serve and noticed right after sending that I’d used “their” when I meant “there.” Red-faced I sent out a corrected version pronto.
Because of my own self-consciousness I’m very skittish about drawing too much attention to writing errors as they do in The Great Typo Hunt and Engrish.com. While I do understand that many are indeed careless others are not. English is not a consistent language (and, boy do I remember a department chair consistently marking in red pen my misspelling of “consistently” in my student reports). Rules end up being broken (“weird” anyone?). It can be hard to learn. My parents were German and so English was their second language. While they both wrote well they also had little language glitches when they spoke. And so while such sites can be amusing (ditto cute errors by kids), I cringe at many of their examples thinking that they could all too easily be mine.