And everybody — customers, investors, family members, the man at the grocery shop — lets us know that the spelling is supposed to have been freedom, not freadom.
Can’t you even spell? Don’t you teach English? Why don’t you know even this much? Did you do double-ee sound in phonics class? Next you will write bee as bea, tree as trea, seed as sead, and queen as quean. And when guests come home, instead of offering a sweet, you’ll offer sweat. And all the children in your class will write bean instead of been and will never ever win in any district spelling bee contest.
Here’s a story that may, or may not be true
You were a child. You had an English teacher, who was lovely. She was an amazing storyteller. You really liked her. You trusted her. And then came a unit test, and she used her red pen, and corrected lots of little spelling mistakes on your little unit-test-notebook. After that, you didn’t really like her too much.
Fast forward so many years and today you carry around a red pen in your mind and correct everyone’s spellings.
OH MY GOD, I DO THAT TOO!
All the time. I love correcting people’s typos. Especially when they get important words wrong, like mastery. It’s a crime to butcher good sounding words.
I’ve heard that people who correct other people’s language get a thank-you cake in the afterlife. With cream and sprinkles.
A word describes an idea. The word hunger describes the idea that our body’s power plants are running out of fuel and that we need to eat. Petrichor describes the smell of the earth when it’s freshly wet from rain and also the idea that some people really like to show off that they know more words than other people.
The word freedom describes the idea that one can think, speak, and act as one wants without being forced by another. It evokes the memory of learning about the amazing story of the freedom struggle, of the bravery that our freedom fighters showed.
Remember Tagore’s poem — an India where the mind is without fear … Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.
CUT to scene 2: Think about our countrymen who can’t read. Or who don’t read. Are they free? Imagine you were to head to a foreign land one day, say China, and all the signs were in Simplified Chinese, or Pinyin. And Google Translate didn’t work. And suddenly you’re left without the ability to read. Would you feel free?
Coming back to Freadom
Freadom is the elevated sense of individual independence that comes when one is free and one can read. In the textual world we live in, freadom is an upgrade over freedom.
So, anyway. Point is. Freadom is not a spelling mistake. What we wanted to say was, “We believe that reading is a critical life skill that is very important for everyone in their personal and professional lives; and without reading, there is no true freedom.” But the marketing department said that readingisacriticallifeskill.com and nofreedomwithoutreading.com were too long to remember. And then Aditi suggested “freadom” and all of us instantly knew what it meant – that reading is a critical life skill and there is no freedom without it.
If English had a king — but it doesn’t — it would be The Oxford English Dictionary for British English and Merriam Webster for American English. Both are descriptive dictionaries, i.e. they describe how words are used in real life. What this means in simple words is that if enough people use freadom as a word then it will be part of the dictionary.
And then we shall say, but it is the right spelling.
Call to Action
This is the part of the article where I humbly beg of you to like it, drop a comment, and share it widely. And link to it in your blog. Then I’ll get some traffic, and I can continue to write more about spelling mistakes and other things, just for you. Also, if 10 million or so people read this blog, and start using freadom as a word, then we can petition the OED. I think.