Spelling’s been on my mind.

A feature in last week’s Big Issue included in its introduction: “madness in the shopping isles”. I’ve heard these islands are a popular destination on Saturdays and before Christmas, but I’m not sure exactly where they are (somewhere near the Silly Aisles?!).

My wonderful film club colleague made a classic error last week. She wrote that the venue for our film screening was formally – stiff and official – called Cafe Euro, rather than formerly.

Both these instances are examples of homophones: words that sound the same but have different meanings and are often spelled differently. Most commonly misused are possibly they’re/their/there and two/to/too.

I’m not sure how these peculiarities would fit in with The English Spelling Society‘s campaign for spelling reform. How can these be standardised to make them easier to spell? I think they’re words people just have to learn, and sometimes they’ll get them wrong, but that’s OK – for me, it’s gently amusing, not the end of the world.