31 October, 2008

Perusing the Dictionary In Pursuit of Pursuit

I’ve been pretty good with spelling as far back as I can remember, but there are a few words that I always seem to have problems spelling correctly. There are two categories here, actually:

1. Words that I spell incorrectly and which I know are wrong as soon as I see how I’ve spelled them, and

2. Words whose spelling, despite looking at them on the page or screen, still eludes me.

This second category caught my attention recently. I began to wonder what it was about these words that make them so hard for me to get right. I mean, when I look at (or just think about looking at) the word spelled however I think it should be, I have an odd, sinking feeling that it's not right. But I can't figure how it should be spelled, either.

So, today the word is “pursue.” I tend to spell this “persue.” Sure, when they’re right next to each other, I’m pretty sure that the first one is correct - though there’s still room for doubt. So, I thought about this particular word for a while . . .

I think what messes me up is that there are two “u” vowels in it, right next to each other, but they are not pronounced the same. I think that’s why my brain wants to put something different than a “u” in the first spot. After all, the other “u,” in the “sue” part of the word, actually sounds like a “u” - “yooooooo.” I suppose that from now on I will need to remember that this word is one of those odd ones in this language. Odd to me, anyway.

Oh yeah. Don't even remind me of the existence of “peruse!”

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