The chaos story

Mexican blanketWhen I was young, an observant teacher identified me as a kid who should take a vocabulary test for students with bigger than average vocabularies.

To this day, hundreds of years later, I remember one wrong answer. The word was “chaos.” In my head, I read it as: “chay-ohss.” Not: “kay-oss.” One of the choices was “a Mexican blanket.” I picked that definition. Spanish was not part of my world yet, so “chay-ohss” sounded like a Mexican blanket.

Photo courtesy of Gwilmore on Flikr.


6 Replies to “The chaos story”

  1. well, that Mexican blanket is often in my head… so I try to create a certain amount of order around me in order not to be on a flying Mexican blanket…
    much luv…

  2. Funny the things that stick with us from our childhood. I remember being one of two finalists in our class spelling bee, in 5th grade, and losing to hippopatumus (got it wrong again!).

  3. There are several tricky words to spell that I remember because they were among the very few words I misspelled in grade school spelling class. Two of them are “accommodate” and “embarrass”. The double letters are kind of arbitrary.

  4. It’s comforting to know I’m not the only one to remember a childhood spelling mistake.

    And Tim, in some ways I’m jealous of those who use and speak languages that are younger to the writing game than English was. Example: Swahili. It’s so phonetic. You always spell things like they sound.

  5. Spanish speakers misspell every bit as much as English speakers, because there are a number of ambiguous spellings possible. South America doesn’t differentiate /z/ from /s/, so the [s] sound can be spelled c/z/s. The semivowel /y/ can be ll/hi/y, h is silent, /w/ can be hu/w (w only on imports), /k/ can be c/k/qu. But it’s not nearly as crazy as English.

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