Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Your Frenemy: Spellcheck

With so many people doing everything online these days, it almost seems that worrying about Spellcheck in programs like Microsoft Word is passe. 

After all, so much of our lives is now only done electronically - via text or email or instant messaging - that most people don't worry about actually using word processing programs any more. 

Although, as I see things showing up all over the place with strange words that don't make sense, it reminds of the times when I was teaching and dealt with students assuming that Spellcheck was always right. Like times when "the whole process" would show up in a paper as "the hole progress" because a student had typo'ed the phrase and Spellcheck hadn't pointed it out. 

Of course, at the same time, the issues that Spellcheck was known to cause now tend to show up in programs that use AutoCorrect features. And, to make matters worse, many of the electronic communications methods that feature AutoCorrect are known for their speed. You're expected to be typing and hitting send immediately, not going back to re-read and edit what you've written. 

As you might guess, I'm not always a big fan of either of these programs. 

Yes, I use Spellcheck every day at work. I have it turned on so that the computer will point out any words which are obviously spelled incorrectly. But that wouldn't ever help me catch "the hole progress" in a book about "the whole process." So I use it as a back-up and use my own wordsmithing as my primary source. 

That's how I found one of my favorite Spellcheck goofs this past week. Spellcheck wanted me to change a letter in a word that the author had used, because according to the program the word was wrong. 

You see, instead of having a police officer "unholster his gun" (which, okay, may not be the best word), Spellcheck tried to change it to "upholster his gun." Which, I dunno, might have made the whole scenario seem a bit chintzy. (ba-dum-bum)

So I will continue to urge people to avoid as many fabricated (get it?) crimes against spelling as possible and admit that while Spellcheck and AutoCorrect are nice, taking the time to proofread is even nicer. 

(Yes. I also spell-checked this post. And while I know that there are some intentional words in it that probably aren't found in Webster's, I'm more worried than usual that there might be an accidental typo somewhere in there, too.)

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