In today’s age of spell-check and suggested searches, good spelling isn’t as valuable a skill as it used to be. Even so, there’s still something to be said for the person who can spell dodecahedron and logizomechanophobia without breaking a sweat (I’m not one of them). Is this skill hereditary? Is there such thing as a “good spelling gene”?
Perhaps. According to a 2008 article from the UK’s Sunday Times, bad spelling could be in your genes. A study on the causes of dyslexia came up with some interesting conclusions. “Biology, it seems, not only influences those with dyslexia but also people without the syndrome. If you are a bad speller you can blame your grey matter.”
Tony Monaco, a scientist who works at the Wellcome Center Trust for Human Genetics at Oxford University, is quoted in the article. He states: “Around 60 percent of the variation in the ability to spell lies in our genes.” The reason has to do with a particular gene, known as KIAA0319. It “helps to guide brain calls into the cortex, the thinking part of the brain, when a child is developing in the womb.”
An article from the Cleveland Leader explains that scientists who were studying the causes of dyslexia found “a gene that might also cause some of us to be bad spellers, but not to the extent that it’s a clinical disorder such as dyslexia.”
But don’t go writing a poorly-spelled angry letter to your parents just yet. Again, according to the Cleveland Leader, “Bad spelling isn’t entirely attributable to our genetic makeup. Nutrition and proper sleep are believed to contribute, as the brain needs all of the energy it can get to carry out these complex language processes.”
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