Press-Republican

April 8, 2012

I may be a loser, but I'm not a looser

STEVE OUELLETTE, You Had to Ask
Press-Republican

---- — I don't care what you say, I am not a looser.

A loser? Quite possibly, but absolutely not a looser.

We all have our pet peeves and tiny things which drive us completely insane. This is mine.

It's not like I'm the spelling police. Other than my children's school work, I rarely correct others' miscues. I, myself, have trouble spelling necessary, accommodate, definitely, occurrence, separate, sometimes even receiver (which I had to use writing several hundred football stories throughout my life).

I am not a grammar snob either. I might gently push you into the right there, their or they're. I might casually explain its and it's, but I would never criticize you for the prepositions you like to end sentences with.

I'm even understanding with punctuation misuse (except for multiple exclamation points!!!!). Man, I was a terrible editor.

The one faux pas that I cannot overlook or forgive, however, is the criminal misuse of loose and looser — in place of lose and loser — that has somehow become rampant in this country.

Some of you probably aren't even aware of this crime against my senses, but where I hang out on the Internets — social-networking sites and sports blogs, message boards, mailing lists and chat rooms — the problem is epidemic. Even among intelligent, educated people, and among my personal friends.

The sports sites are, of course, consumed every day with loosing and winning (wining? whinning?), so the word is misused constantly there. Weight loss and diet sites have the same problem with people loosing weight.

I'm not sure if thinner and more cultured people are having the same problem with lose. Perhaps they have their own different common misspelling, for instance, when they talk about a night at the oppruh. Should I blame the public education system? My children seem to have been taught the proper spelling, so I don't think that's it.

Should I blame the Internet, itself? Should I blame the prevalence of texting shorthand? Loose is actually one letter longer than lose, so it costs people more time to text it that way. They have to give more effort to spell it incorrectly.

I understand that, phonetically speaking, loser should probably be spelled lewzer or loozer. But lose is a simple four-letter word; shouldn't four-letter words be memorized by the end of third grade?

Perhaps lose has always been misspelled this often, but before the Internet and cellphones, we didn't realize it. Everything in print used to be edited before it was released to the general public. Now anyone can write something instantly that can be seen by everyone in the world.

I'm curious — how do people who spell lose as loose, spell loose? Would they write "the cat got lose in the hen house"? "I've got a handful of lose change in my pocket"? "I think you've got a couple of screws lose"? Do they think that the two words are heteronyms (words that are spelled the same, but have different pronunciations and meanings)? Or is there a completely different spelling?

Perhaps I'm a loser for allowing one frequent misspelling to annoy me so, but I plead with everyone from this point forward, to call me a looser no more.

If I was a looser, I would be ... setting free animals at the dog pound. I would be letting out my belt a couple of notches. I would be showing no morals. I would be firing arrows into the sky.

I know this is a battle that I'm probably going to loose, but it's one I feel I finally have to fight.

Email Steve Ouellette at:

ouellette1918@gmail.com