Can you spot the spelling mistake on the coupon shown above? The staggering wrongness of the misspelled word probably leapt out at you. If so, you may agree with the views expressed in the remainder of this post. If not, then you probably ought to read on anyway.
The marking scheme that we employ while grading our students’ reading comprehension homework assignments has evolved over the years, but the penalty for a spelling or capitalization error has remained the same from nearly the start: five points deducted each time, from a possible twenty points per answer. A few such mistakes can easily sink a factually-correct answer. At first blush, to some of you out there, this may seem a bit harsh. We would beg to differ.
Misspelling a word is one of the easiest-to-avoid writing blunders. This is particularly true when it’s a case of two letters having been transposed (e.g. writing “cta” where “cat” was intended). Capitalizating a letter that ought to be lower case, or vice versa, is in the same ballpark. Even if one of these boo-boos slips into a sentence, it can be caught and corrected very easily. All that’s required is a critical eye and the willingness to spend a few moments exercising it.
Imagine that it were possible to sit down and write out a bullet-point list of essential mental tools, the cognitive skills which every young human needs to acquire on the path towards a successful and rewarding adulthood in today’s ultra-globalized, hypercompetitive world. If we had such a list, the natural thing to do would be to replace the bullet points with numbers. We’d rank the skills according to two criteria: the relative ease with which a skill can be developed and the potential payoff for those who practice it. Proofreading would surely be nestled somewhere near the top of the prioritized list of skills — which is why we knock off a quarter of a homework answer’s score for each spelling or capitalization mistake.
Have you read this far hoping we’d tell you which word the Pizza Hut coupon designer(s) misspelled? We will, but before we blurt out the answer wouldn’t you rather have a hint and a second chance at identifying the error? Here’s your clue: the word in question appears twice on the face of the coupon, once spelled correctly. Have you found it? If so, give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back. Make that a double-pat if you saw it instantly, at first glance.
Still stumped? We direct your attention to the box below. Hover over it with your mouse or other pointer and Pizza Hut’s mistake will be revealed.
TAKWAWAY should have been