Whaddya call a heterograph abuser?
February 3, 2010 8:37 AM   Subscribe

Is there a term to describe the act of using a heterograph or someone who habitually uses heterographs when writing?

Our team decided we needed something more formal than "dork" to add to our retro to gently chide the documentation person who keeps using "to" instead of "too" and other similar gaffs.
posted by Fezboy! to Writing & Language (18 answers total)
 
Is there a term to describe the act of using a heterograph or someone who habitually uses heterographs when writing?

Nope.
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:44 AM on February 3, 2010


Heterographer? (Or, if male, heterographim.)
posted by fiercecupcake at 8:49 AM on February 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Malphonographic?
posted by amtho at 8:49 AM on February 3, 2010


Homophonic
posted by amethysts at 8:51 AM on February 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Um. A "gaff" is a fishing spear or hook. A "gaffe" is a mistake.

But to answer your question, I have never heard of a specific term for those who do this frequently, other than "poorly educated in grammar." I suspect as people's interest in reading has declined, this is going to become more frequent, since people will get a much greater proportion of their usage learning through verbal rather than textual exposure to words.
posted by aught at 8:59 AM on February 3, 2010 [8 favorites]


the documentation person who keeps using "to" instead of "too" and other similar gaffs...

Gaffs? They're using a long pole with a hook on the end? Funny.

There's that thing called a "reading vocabulary", when one knows many words well from reading and writing, but has no idea how to pronounce them because they seldom come up in actual speech. Lack of practice.

But in this case, it's not knowing how to spell a word that one knows how to say. Interesting. I suppose this suggests the person didn't grow up in a reading/writing culture.

Despite the novelty factor, though, I think that the specific word you accidentally write when misspelling isn't that important. I'd just call them a poor speller.
posted by rokusan at 9:00 AM on February 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Dam me and mai long sloe answers.
posted by rokusan at 9:01 AM on February 3, 2010


Phonetic speller?
posted by verstegan at 9:05 AM on February 3, 2010


Heterogaffe?
posted by nomad at 9:35 AM on February 3, 2010


There is an iron law that when you call someone out for some solecism of grammar or spelling, you will commit one yourself. In this case, it's "gaffe" not "gaff" (I am now wondering what mistake I am making).

I've never heard a special term for this, and goodness knows it would have come up among my colleagues. I'd just call it "being a bad speller." I know someone like this—he can spell the same word three different ways in the space of one paragraph. It's almost as if the idea that there is a correct spelling never really occurred to him.
posted by adamrice at 9:40 AM on February 3, 2010


Heterogaffe?

Better yet, heterogaff.
posted by Jaltcoh at 9:58 AM on February 3, 2010


The "gaff/gaffe" thinger as well as the "other similar" were additional examples pulled from the latest revision of our customer-facing usage document. I just got lazy with the quote marks. Gratuitously: reading this person's documentation is twice as grating because they're output is worst then the auto-generated documentation from inline comments yet their the documentation specialist.

It's like code that compiles but is chock full of run-time errors and it forces us developers to bid time for additional proofing so the team/company doesn't look like a collection of dorks. I'm definitely not without sin in this arena, but I don't write end-user documents for a reason.

So no formal term? We put "malphonographic" in the retro document that gets passed up the food chain because it had a certain ring to it.
posted by Fezboy! at 10:11 AM on February 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ignoramus.
posted by KRS at 10:40 AM on February 3, 2010


A person who can read and speak the language, but can't write it well, would be called "semi-literate".
posted by nicwolff at 10:48 AM on February 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Calling it a 'gaff' is just so perfect, since it embodies an example of the problem, but I suppose a true lexophile wouldn't touch that one with a tin foot poll.
posted by jamjam at 11:31 AM on February 3, 2010


"Phonetic speller" is the most diplomatic way of putting it.

There is an iron law that when you call someone out for some solecism of grammar or spelling, you will commit one yourself. In this case, it's "gaffe" not "gaff" (I am now wondering what mistake I am making).

True enough. Note further that the correction to the "gaffe/gaff" confusion mentioned that this occurs since people will get a much greater proportion of their usage learning through verbal rather than textual exposure to words, while of course "verbal" means "using words." I think the word the poster is looking for is "oral."
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:33 AM on February 3, 2010


There is an iron law that when you call someone out for some solecism of grammar or spelling, you will commit one yourself. In this case, it's "gaffe" not "gaff" (I am now wondering what mistake I am making).

I've heard that called "Muphry's Law." I'd go with "careless writer" if they know the difference but make mistakes, or "semi-literate" if they don't. Or "not so good speller", if I wanted to be polite.
posted by Jasper Fnorde at 5:47 PM on February 3, 2010


they're output is worst then

(I presume these are more intentional usage mistake examples, for larfs?)

I just wanted to add that passing a word like "malphonographic" up our corporate food chain would probably primarily result in glazed eyes and requests for explanation in plain talk. But good luck and maybe your food chain has smarter links.
posted by aught at 6:33 AM on February 5, 2010


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