October 24, 2008

Spelling Lesson

Incorrect: I loose money when I gamble.
Correct: I lose money when I gamble.

Incorrect: I am loosing my shirt.
Correct: I am losing shirt.

Incorrect: I am a looser.
Correct: I am a loser.

I have increasingly seen this misspelling of the verb to lose over the past few years. At first, it seemed like a harmless error but lately has become more and more common. This gross misspelling can even be found in the written discourse of people who otherwise appear to be intelligent and educated denizens of the world-wide-web. It is like a plague upon the language.

The other day, I was utterly horrified to come across the non-word loosing while reading the liner notes of a recent CD by a highly-respected musician/composer. This writer (fortunately, not the musician/composer himself) was apparently paid cash money or some other consideration to publish these liner notes for all of posterity yet cannot parse the verb to lose. How sad and embarrassing for the artist whose work was thereby demeaned by some hired flunky’s illiteracy. This has really has gone too far.

Why add the extra letter? It actually takes less effort to spell it correctly! I refuse to accept this as some kind of post-modern, variant spelling if only because the word loose has its own distinct meaning and usage:

Correct: I am a person of loose morals.
Correct: I will loosen my necktie and order another martini.

Now I can forgive a typo and I really don’t think I am being pedantic about this. But, seriously, if I come across a gross misspelling, I immediately stop reading and think to myself, “what an idiot” – regardless of the content of the writing (please, don’t get me started on the non-word irregardless.)

While not as reliable as a good dictionary, Google can answer most spelling questions with a little effort, so there really is no excuse. You have been warned.

/end of rant.


christopher said...

There is something about this word, loose/lose. I have been reading way too much about the coming election and have repeatedly noticed this word misspelled, as you point out. I attributed it to the nature of much of what I'm reading (rapid-fire blogging to get out a story quickly); sloppiness, in a word. But you're exactly, right: it seems to happen far too often.

While we're on a rant (the Online edition of the Sour Hour), I'm getting really pissed off about the voting machine 'malfunctions.' I'm sorry, I make logical systems for a living, and it's not that hard to build a machine that can accept and tabulate choices. I know, I know ... it's not the machines, it's the people. But damn it ...

Sam said...

Hey! I'm with you. All the way. What gets my goat is the improper use of "it's" as a possessive, as in "Give an idea it's proper due." No!!

it's = it is
its = the possessive

What's so hard about that?

Another idiotic usage: When indicating agreement, writing "here, here" instead of "hear, hear."

There's no excuse for that kind of sloppiness--texting be damned!

Rodger Coleman said...

Christopher - how do you know that it's not the machines? After all, as you say, it's easy enough to program them...to, say, flip every third vote...?

I voted early on a paper ballot.

Sam - yes, apostrophes are difficult. And the whole there/their/they're thing is problematic. And, therefore, I'm willing to give people a break here and there. But "loosing?" WTF?

Thanks for reading my drivel!