Evil Spellcheck by Kristen Heitzmann

Recently I read an article about people incorrectly pluralizing names. The gist of it was that people are using apostrophes when they want to talk about the Watsons. When this editor explains that it’s wrong to write Watson’s to indicate more than one Watson, people—writers and journalists—insist they are correct and order the apostrophe to remain.

Reading that, I scratched my head. How could people not know the difference between plural and possessive? I’ll tell you how. It’s the evil and criminally incorrect Spellcheck.

As I’m writing along and correctly pluralize a name, what appears but the jagged red line informing me of a spelling error. I right click and guess what? I have two options: make the name singular or—you got it—use an apostrophe. Many of us realize this is ridiculous and add the plural name to our customized dictionaries. Problem solved. Except, many more think Spellcheck is Gospel.

They see two options and choose the one that ends in S even if it includes an apostrophe for no right reason. In an age where grammar is rarely taught and spelling gets a mere nod, Spellcheck is training indignant misspellers. (Yes, I took creative license with that word because misspell and speller both appear in the dictionary and a speller who misspells is a misspeller.) ha ha

Fun aside, let’s talk about another crime of spellcheck. Have you ever been writing along and you know a word like sidesaddle is written sidesaddle but the squiggly line tells you to make it side saddle? Or door jamb. Or whatever. Now, I’m not always right. So when I get that little trigger that says I need to change something, I bring up a dictionary and double-check. No, I was right the first time. Stop telling me to break words that shouldn’t be.

Then I wonder, how many people don’t look it up because they trust Spellcheck? Spellcheck wouldn’t lie. Spellcheck couldn’t be wrong. Sigh.

I don’t expect it to be exhaustive. I can forgive all the words that aren’t recognized. I happily add them in. I love words. The more the merrier. So I can give Spellcheck a nudge, no problem.

I also know I can turn it off, but I actually do appreciate when it catches a slip of a finger called a typo. And I appreciate it when I can’t, off the top of my head, recall an exact spelling. Spellcheck rocks for both those things. But can we all agree it’s not perfect and take the time to learn something before we argue for errors because Spellcheck said so?

A tool is only as good as the tool who uses it. Ha ha.


This entry was posted in Honored Alumni, Kristen Heitzmann, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Evil Spellcheck by Kristen Heitzmann

  1. Grammarly has the same problem. I constantly have to click on “Ignore” because it advises me to change what I’ve written. I have to look up things I’ve always thought were correct because it tells me it’s wrong now. A pain. And yet… sometimes it can be helpful. What do you do? Question everything, I guess.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kayla Lowe says:

    I believe Spellcheck can be a great tool for catching typos, as you stated. However, it can also be a stumbling block for those who place all their faith in it. I think it’s important to regard Spellcheck as a helpful tool that assists rather than one that does all the work for us. Spellcheck is merely a man-made application. Like all apps (and other man-made creations for that matter), it’s subject to errors. Ultimately, we must rely upon our own knowledge in making the final call.

    It’s truly distressing that we have become so dependent upon technology that some people no longer understand the basics of grammar and spelling, choosing instead to use tools like Spellcheck as a crutch. In some ways, technology has impeded education. Yet, in other ways, it’s quite helpful. I suppose how good or evil it is lies in the hands of the user.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Judy says:

    I’ve found spell/grammar check to be right about 50-60% of the time. Grammar check is more often wrong than spellcheck. Maddening.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. creationkids says:

    I agree completely. There are times when I write and the red squiggly line just won’t go away, even when I know I have written it correctly. I think grammar check has the same issues. It is so hard to get something that is programmed to realize there are sometimes places where the hard and fast rules are not so hard and fast. I see students rely on both of these every day, instead of actually learning the lessons of grammar and spelling. Then, they turn into adults who cannot clearly and effectively relate their message to others.

    Liked by 1 person

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