gregbo (gregbo) wrote,

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does spelling matter?

You may recall a few months ago I mused on the value of spelling bees. C|Net recently reported on a Nickelodeon study that indicates a growing perceived lack of importance of spelling:

"As a result, technology is driving a shift in behaviors at home. The study showed that, thanks to the Internet, a quarter of parents believe it's no longer necessary to spell well, reference printed dictionaries, or read the newspaper. Kids ages 8 to 14 agreed in slightly lesser percentages (an average of one-fifth) about the usefulness of spelling well, dictionaries and newspapers, except when it came to printed maps. About 20 percent of parents, versus 21 percent of kids, said they no longer need to know how to read a geographic map."

To relate this to some of my recent activities, I cringe whenever I see a job posting for a "Principle Software Engineer". It's not just an occasional thing. But does it matter? One could make the argument that when people are reading these ads, the meaning of "principle" is obvious in this context. But what if someone is searching for that type of job?

I took a sample of the number of query results for "principle software engineer" vs. "principal software engineer" (quotes included) at the "Big 4" search engines just to see how often the former gets a listing as a percentage of all results for both queries:

Ask 11.7%
Google 14.4%
MSN 7.3%
Yahoo! 9.2%

While this isn't a scientific study, it suggests that people who use the spelling that's generally considered correct may be missing out on a substantial number of openings. So maybe it does matter ...

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