Sabela Cal

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Do you think something is missing from your Spanish translations?

Charles Eames said it best: The details are not details. They make the product. And yet so many translations are like signs with missing letters: sometimes sad, sometimes unfortunate.

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Imagining a world without standardized spelling

The 275 spellers who gathered in Maryland this past week for the 2011 Scripps National Spelling Bee are top-notch orthographic athletes, able to rattle off, in order, the letters of words such as “tchotchke,” “schottische” and “aryepiglottic” without a second thought.



Such battles don’t happen everywhere. Speakers of quite a few other languages inhabit a world without correct spelling. Spanish, Italian and German have much more regular orthographies — and not coincidentally, don’t have national spelling bees.



There’s a certain satisfaction to sticking the landing on a difficult word such as “silhouette” or “subpoena” or “surreptitious.” English spelling is messy and difficult. As this past week’s spelling bee competitors understand, that’s what we like about it.

After the spelling bee, imagining a world without standardized spelling