New look for The Spelling Blog

If you've been to The Spelling Blog before, you might think you've come to the wrong place. You haven't. The Spelling Blog has had a facelift! Please let me know if anything is looking odd or isn't very readable on your screen.

Hope you like it.

Anagrams for spelling - A sponger flings alarm

What do these have in common?
  • Challenging Spite
  • Angelic Penlights
  • Glistening Chapel
  • Lightening Places
They are all anagrams of the same pair of words that are related to this blog. But which words?

And can you work out these anagrams? Again all on the same theme, but this time anagrams of three different words or phrases.
  • Clean lips
  • Holographic Rat
  • Legible pens
Put your answers in the Comments.

I really like this phrase made out of two anagrams of each other:

Create fluidly, edit carefully.

Good advice, I’d say.

Should we use anagrams to teach spelling?

It depends. People who spell quite well often enjoy the challenge of them. It encourages them to look at words carefully and to think about the spelling. So this may be helpful in moderation.

People who have big problems with spelling usually don’t enjoy them. They have enough trouble with spelling – they just don’t need someone to go messing up the letters deliberately, thank you very much! Those with serious spelling problems may feel that every written word is like a puzzle to be solved anyway.

Much more useful for these learners is finding letter sequences in words that make new words. Finding ‘a rat’ in ‘separate’ really helps with the spelling. I wrote a post about this (with activities) at

Did it take ages to make those anagrams?

No, I cheated! Just go to , which is an internet anagram server (I, rearrangement servant), put in your word or phrase, and a list of anagrams, mostly meaningless, is offered up. Great fun ... if you can spell. But, be careful, it's addictive!

Bye for now
Alright, no Ninjas.

Spelling mistakes - public and embarrassing ones

Let's be honest - we all make spelling mistakes sometimes. It may be because we don't know the spelling, or we think we know it but we are wrong. Often it's just a typo or lack of concentration and editing. Sometimes the spelling mistake doesn't matter too much, but other times - it really does!

Here are some very public and very embarrassing spelling errors:

A very public mistake was made by the Chilean mint. Thousands of coins were issued with a misspelling of the country's own name - the word 'Chiie' was stamped on them instead of 'Chile'. Incredibly, nobody noticed the error for a year. The Chilean mint decided not to take them out of circulation and now they are becoming collectors' items. So if you've got any Chilean coins lying around, take a close look to see if they are in fact 'Chiiean'.

In the recent British general election, UKIP (UK Independence Party) candidates made a number of spelling gaffes. One sent out a leaflet from the 'UK Independance Party'. And another published a poster saying he was 'fighting for Britian'. This candidate later claimed that it had been a deliberate error to create interest and discussion. Of course we believe him!

The most recent one I've seen is not IN English but BY the English and it is rather embarrassing because of where it is rather than what it is. The new glass doors to the Classics building at Cambridge University needed some kind of decor to make sure people saw them and didn't walk through the glass. So the University decided on a quotation from Aristotle: “All men by nature desiring to know” written in Greek, but unfortunately the Greek “Σ” in ΦYΣEI – or phusei, “by nature” – has been written as an English “S”. There is also a mechanical problem with these automatic doors and they are very slow - which gives each student plenty of time to contemplate the spelling while they wait for the doors to open.

In March 2009 The Daily Telegraph reported on the spelling mistakes found on the blog belonging to John Knight who was then the Schools Minister. They found the following: "maintainence", "convicned", "curently", "similiar", "foce", "pernsioners", "reccess" and "archeaological". Most of these look like typing errors to me and Mr Knight himself is quoted as saying, "When I was at school the teachers told me to always check my work. While my spelling is generally pretty good, I need to focus more on checking." Yes, you do Mr Knight. But wait a minute, the Telegraph should also check its work carefully when it complains about his 'mispellings' - in other words his 'pelling mistakes'.

The unfortunate Mr Brown, when he was Prime Minister, made a small spelling mistake which caused offence. He personally wrote, by hand, to every family who had a member killed in battle in Afghanistan. Mr Brown is partially blind and has to use a thick pen to make the letters clear for himself. It is said that he has a 'unique' handwriting style and it is at times difficult to read. However, he had clearly misspelled the surname of Grenadier Guardsman Jamie Janes, who had been killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan, as Jamie James. The bereaved mother, on reading the letter, was so angry about it that she sold the story to a newspaper. .

And here is a flyer I received a few years ago and just had to keep (sorry Collins!). I'm not sure it's such a good advert for their 'dicationary':

Finally, this is not really about spelling but has to be my favourite blunder. In Wales road signs have to be in Welsh as well as English. So when a road sign was made saying "No entry for heavy goods vehicles. Residential site only", the local authority emailed their in-house translation service to ask for the Welsh translation. They got a very quick reply, copied it onto the sign below the English and installed the road signs. Only those who spoke Welsh knew that the translation of 'Nid wyf yn y swyddfa ar hyn o bryd. Anfonwch unrhyw waith i'w gyfieithu" is "I am not in the office at the moment. Send any work to be translated". Love it!!!

Any mistakes you find in this article, or in the blog as a whole, are of course entirely deliberate and just to create interest and discussion!

Do you know of any other public or embarrassing spelling mistakes? Any of your own?
How carefully do you check your spelling?
If you're a teacher, how do you encourage your students to edit?