Monday, March 30, 2009

March 30: On Spelling

Today's Kerouaction

What do you think Jack thought about spelling? He certainly invented words (like "respectaburban"), but he also took liberties with spelling. For example, in Dr. Sax he mentions "ragout d'boullette." A search for that phrase in Google reveals one hit: Dr. Sax. Now, if you would search for ragout d'boulette (one "l" in boulette), you would hit upon a number of recipes for this tasty French Canadian dish. Jack frequently misspelled the names of jazz greats (e.g., "Charley" for Charlie Parker). And so on....

Jack knew how to spell. Just look at his journals, in which there are very few misspellings. Did he misspell words in his novels by mistake or on purpose? He often fought with his editors over punctuation and the like. Maybe some of the misspellings in his books are mischievous. Or editing mistakes. Who knows?

Perhaps Mark Twain said it best:

"I don't give a damn for a man that can only spell a word one way."

Spell words however you want, as long as you get the meaning across.

Jack would approve.

P.S. Tomorrow = the last entry for Jack Kerouac month. After that, ...?


Crystal said...

I tihnk taht is an ecexptinoally birlliant idea. Jsut put thsoe lettres out there in ayn order you wish and yuo’ll liekly be amzaed at how well poelpe can still tell excatly what you’re saying. Mabye it will even keep thier atention better, given a little chlalenge in comumnicatoin.

Rick Dale, author of The Beat Handbook said...

As lnog as the frsit and lsat ltetres are in pclae, selplnig deons't mtater aywnay aocronidg to rsaecrhres at Cmbadirge Uinertisy ( says this is undetermined.)