Written by Jincy Kornhauser at Pearson Tutor Services
Attention! Toe world prospectors unlock the pod tip lighter, alas the writer costing excess to doctor morose stool sheets and otter reference spices, approving the writer to pricier acetate drabs free of misspellings, grimy eras, and seasonal work shoes.
I hope that’s clear. It certainly ought to be, since the whole paragraph was checked using the Microsoft Word spellchecker tool. In order to achieve this paragraph, all I had to do was look for wavy red lines underneath words (there were lots of them!), run the spellchecker, and click CHANGE for each suggested improvement. And…voila! Not a single word is misspelled!
Too bad it’s total gibberish.
In order to correct misspellings in that messy draft—in order to produce a clear, informative paragraph—I should have followed up on each of the spellchecker’s “suggestions” with close, thoughtful inspection (Do I really mean “toe world”? What’s a “pod tip lighter”?) and, in some cases, a trip to the dictionary (“Acetate” just doesn’t sound quite right…). If I had done that—if I had not entrusted my spellchecker with the entire task of proofreading—the results would have been considerably less embarrassing:
The word processor, unlike the old typewriter, allows the writer instant access to dictionaries, style sheets, and other reference sources, allowing the writer to produce accurate drafts free of misspellings, grammar errors, and questionable word choices.
Indeed, the spellchecker is a great tool—a wonderful first line of defense against typos and misspellings. Example: When I typed “embarrassing” earlier, I left out one of the Rs (I often do—“embarrassing” often embarrasses me), and that wavy red line saved me. But by itself it won’t save me—or you—from startling and often hilarious word errors. To your spellchecker, gym and gin, marriage and mirage, udder and utter, paste and paced—they’re all good, regardless of what you are actually trying to say.
When you use your spellchecker and it suggests a substitution for a misspelled word, always: Continue reading ‘When Spellcheckers Attack’