BellaDonna Saberhagen here. I was reminded yesterday of one of my personal pet peeves. People writing "alter" when they mean "altar." It drives me crazy. I'm used to it in forums (though I usually correct the person), but yesterday I found it in a book by a fairly well-known (and fairly respected) Pagan author. Most likely, it was an editing glitch. After all, spell-check won't catch that error. It was there, however, glaring at me, grinning wickedly, reminding me why I frequent fewer and fewer forums. I just started the book and I believe it will be useful, so I'm not going to spurn it for this one error.
I can take newbies mispronouncing things, that's fine. We were all new at one time, and many 101 books are sadly lacking in pronunciation guides. However, using the wrong word entirely, that is an issue. Don't get me started on to and too or there, their, and they're. Remember you can alter your altar, but you can't altar your alter (unless you suffer from DID and one of them is a god).
I, Barnabus Saberhagen, would like to chime in on this one too. I can't remember which one, but one of the forums my lovely wife visits actually had a post by a moderator informing the forum goers that anyone who corrected this particular misspelling would be removed from the forum and banned from returning. Are you kidding me? I can understand mentioning to someone who really ripped into the original poster about his spelling errors being told to cool down, but what if you were only trying to educate someone? Like BellaDonna said, newbies encounter lots of weird words and are quite likely to mispronounce some of them. But this isn't a mispronunciation, this is a totally different word. It would be like someone painting eggs to celebrate Oyster. While there's no need to berate or belittle someone who misspells altar, I do feel there is a need to inform them of the proper spelling of the word they are trying to use. And if someone were to be so sensitive that even constructive criticism hurts their feelings, then they have no business posting things on the internet, the Land of Flaming. And that's my two cents on this one.
May you be blessed by whatever gods you fancy.