Does a single letter make all the difference?

Take a look at this:


What do you notice first? The people, the backdrop, the blackboard?

You may recognise two famous YouTubers on show. Yes, it’s Zoella (10 million subscribers), boyfriend Alfie (5 million) and Alfie’s sister Poppy (no YouTube channel!). They have just played a game to see who knows more about Alfie, his girlfriend or his sister. And – spoiler alert! – Poppy lost.

You wouldn’t know Poppy lost from this image would you?? After all, the word LOOSER is written on the blackboard, not LOSER. Looser is the opposite of Tighter, and that word bears no relation to the outcome of this Girlfriend versus Sister game. Loser, on the other hand, says it all and sends us a clear message.

When it comes to spelling, Looser and Loser are commonly confused with each other, perhaps because of the Loo sound in both words.

But my question is: Does it matter?

Taken in isolation, the above image suggests that the person to the right, as signalled by the arrow, is Looser. Looser than something or than someone. It does not say she is a Loser (totally different meaning of course). Then again, if you know that Loser is often misspelled by adding an extra O, you’ll take an educated guess and say that Poppy has lost the game. All that’s if you take the image in isolation. If you watch the video through, you will be certain that Looser should read Loser!

So it doesn’t matter?

Well, I know many language teachers will be up in arms at the sight of this spelling error, given that it’s presented to Zoella’s huge young fan base. OMG! They’re all learning it wrong!

I have given this some thought and I conclude that what really matters is that the intended meaning is conveyed. And in this case I’ll say that it is conveyed.

Ahhhhh, relief all round then (-;

See you soon readers!


Jim Porter is a co-founder of Speekee®, home of the most comprehensive Spanish learning program for children ever to appear online

Jim began his Spanish learning journey in 1990. He has been a language teacher since 1994 and he lives in sunny southern Spain with his two bilingual children. Loves it! More…

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