An automated spelling checker attached to a word-processing program is one of the curses of our age. In the hands of an inexperienced, over-hasty or ignorant user it readily perpetrates dreadful errors in the name of correctness. One example appeared in a piece in the New York Times in October 2005 about Stephen Colbert’s neologism “truthiness”: throughout it instead referred to “trustiness”, the first suggestion from the paper’s automated checking software. In September 2006 an issue of the Arlington Advocate included the sentence, “Police denitrified the youths and seized the paintball guns.” The writer left the first letter off “identified” and the spelling checker corrected what remained.
In 2000 the second issue of Language Matters, a magazine by the European Commission’s English-language translators, included an article by Elizabeth Muller on the problem with the title Cupertino and After.
It is ironic that Cupertino is known for something other than being the home of Apple. The problem is really not that of spellcheckers. It is the lack of good editing, even by the writer. The misspellings would still have been there without the sell checkers. They just would not have also been as humorous, as no human editor would substitute ‘Cupertino’ for ‘cooperation.’
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