“She heads to her bedroom and opens her arm ware. She pulls out a dress…”

This from a student who had no trouble spelling fleur de lis.

This one is not my student; it’s somebody else’s student, but I got to read the text because he (or she) submitted it to a competition, and I’m one of the judges.

So! Arm ware!

There are so many possibilities. Maybe he meant a pistol in an arm band. Maybe he had something more gruesome in mind, such as a utensil or other marketable product made out of a cadaver’s arm. Maybe it’s some new kind of computer apparatus, to go along with the hardware and software. Maybe it’s a collection of prosthetic arms she’s about to take to market (“Tell me of your wares…”). Or did he mean to write “armwear,” as in bracelets?

This is most likely a student who lives in one of the dorms. Standard furniture in those dorm rooms includes a combination dresser-closet called, of course, an armoire. All the students refer to it as an armoire.

I once had a student spell it “armwah.” Why should “arm ware” surprise me? But wouldn’t you expect someone to be able to spell the name of something he opens up every time he wants to change his jacket or socks?

Elsewhere in the same text one of the characters refers to a member of an organization as only “a capa.” Can you parse that one? She’s only a cape? The sentence goes on: “she’s not in the Alpha position.” Suddenly, “capa” becomes clear: it’s part of the Greek alphabet! Alpha (first level in the organization, presumably), Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon, Zeta, Eta, Theta, Iota, Kappa (tenth level?!?! pretty low down on the totem pole, indeed!)…. What, no frats on this campus to teach the students how to spell the anglicized names of the Greek letters?

There’s a lot of spelling-by-ear going on here, which makes fleur de lis even more amazing. Probably that’s the term he actually knew he didn’t know how to spell.

Know thyself, including thine own actual spelling ability!

Now, that's arm ware! (925-silver-shop.com)

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About RAB

Teacher of English writing and literature (college-level); academic-freedom activist; editor and copy editor; theater director, costumer, actress, playwright. View all posts by RAB

4 responses to ““She heads to her bedroom and opens her arm ware. She pulls out a dress…”

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