‘Take care that you never spell a word wrong,” wrote Thomas Jefferson to his daughter Martha in 1783. “It produces great praise to a lady to spell well.” Jefferson made a command of spelling sound as if it were a genteel accomplishment, akin to being able to embroider a handkerchief. But his sentiments are broadly familiar, and we all know of people who have suffered for their misspellings, from Dan Quayle with his insistence on “potatoe” to the mason who made two errors inscribing the name Julia Louis-Dreyfus on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
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