County Legislator Admits She Can’t Spell Rensselaer

By Fred Furnace

Published January 12th, 2015

RENSSELAER – Rensselaer County Legislator Susan A. Simmons admitted Friday what other county legislators have long suspected: she has no idea how to spell “Rensselaer.”

Simmons, a Democrat, has served on the County Legislature for the past 18 years. During that period, she believes she has misspelled Rensselaer “probably a thousand times.”

“I would stress all the time, especially in my younger years” Simmons said, “but I could never remember how to spell it. I would rack my brain trying to remember whether it has two ‘Ns’ or two ‘Ss’. And does it end with an ‘aer,’ or an ‘ear’? Is there a vowel before the first ‘l’? For the life of me, I just couldn’t remember!”

Life has become much more manageable for Simmons with the advent of electronic devices that include spellcheck and auto-correct.

“Nowadays I don’t even think twice about it,” admits Simmons. “No need to memorize the spelling since Google and Apple will just correct it for me anyway. Technology has really just saved my bacon!"

While some have expressed outrage at Simmons’ admission, at least one expert suggests the legislator is by no means alone in her ignorance.

Grammatical Sociologist Edgar Cheney believes it is “probably south of fifty percent” in terms of the percentage of Rensselaer County residents who can correctly spell the county’s name without any type of computer-aided assistance.

“It is a pretty difficult name to spell, even for people who grew up here,” he said. “By my estimation, at least half the population would get it wrong if you gave a pop quiz.

“It is no accident the university here is referred to by its shortened form, ‘RPI,’” Cheney added, “Even many of the genius scientists and engineers have no clue how to spell ‘Rensselaer.’”