The Electronic Portfolio of

A Touchy Subject

January 2012

Dear Ma’am:

It is with great admiration and respect I write this letter to you today; it is my sincere hope it reaches you well.

As a woman of your intellectual stature and worldly perspective, as illustrated by your enrollment at a prestigious university such as the U of M, I deem your viewpoints significant and your affairs genuine.

It is therefore with a certain unfortunateness that I write. I cannot sit idly by in my office as my remembrance of a scholarly encounter between the both us resurfaces into my mind.

Your textual statement of a medical condition over two years ago, I am sorry to say, failed to corroborate your aforementioned characteristics. I, as well as our surrounding colleagues, experienced a grave injustice that day many months ago. It is a hard, brutal fact that your incorrect spelling of an illness left many uncomfortable and wronged. As medical dictionaries and many other works of written words maintain, the correct spelling of “seizure” is indeed what has just been set forth and not your articulation, “caesar,” as it were that fateful day.

I humbly ask you to reconsider your spelling practices in light of those around you. We are all members of an academic community, endeavoring to wring all of the knowledge out of the sponge that is our institution of higher learning.

I thank you for your consideration, ma’am, and apologize for the length of my letter.

Yours in the cause of Proper Spelling and Common Sense,

Christopher J. Thomas

In this letter, I tried to replicate the style, diction, and tone of Martin Luther King, Jr. in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” Having witnessed something that he could not bear to see, he wrote to his aggressors not in a deploring, vitriolic manner, but rather in an open, polite manner. He respected his audience tremendously, and set forth concrete arguments to hopefully persuade them to change their actions. His work embodies substantial credibility due to his democratic word choice. As I confronted a friend about her spelling in this letter, amicable tone replaces the scathing one I would like to have used. Hopefully it makes her understand her mistake, and the pain it caused.

  1. Here you will find my favorite piece of in-class writing from Writing 200. We wrote a mock letter to someone who misspelled or mispronounced a word in the past. Since we are all writing geeks, it causes us tremendous consternation when something like this occurs.

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