Monday, November 04, 2019

Why Your Eyes Are the Best Spell Checker

Why You Shouldn't Trust Your Spell Checker

Spelling and grammar checkers have become everyday tools for lots of writers.  Counting on these writing tools is fraught with danger, that many writers don't think of.

The constraint of traditional spellcheckers is typified in the much quoted poem "Ode to the Spell Checker".

Eye halve a spelling checker
It came with my pea sea.
It plainly marks four my revue miss steaks eye kin knot sea.
Eye strike a quay and type a word and weight for it to say
Weather eye yam wrong oar write.
It shows me strait a weigh as soon as a mist ache is maid.
It nose bee fore two long and eye can put the error rite.
Its rare lea ever wrong.
Eye have run this poem threw it,
I am shore your pleased to no.
Its letter perfect awl the way.
My checker told me sew.

Jerrold H. Zar

As you can see by the above poem, spell checkers miss so many things, that the human eye can quite easily see.  Don't get me wrong it has it uses, but the truth is it will never take the place of a well-trained and educated person.

Check out these 8 reasons why you shouldn't put your trust in a spell or grammar checker in your daily writing:

1. It Won't Detect Homophonic Errors

Homophones: The Words that Puzzle Everybody, sound confusing because they sound the same.  It stands to reason that these kinds of errors are easily missed. Even though spell checkers are easy-to-use, they're really only as good as the person using them.

Many spell checkers include an option to customise the dictionary, and to include nouns and acronyms.  Most have an "auto correct", to automatically correct frequently misspelled words. Even with customisation, a spell checker can miss so much.

2. Spell Checkers Miss Typos that Are real Words

Phrases such as "We're having meet for dinner", or "I'll pick the care up from the garage", get  missed, simply because these words aren't misspelled.  Which means you can write something absurd just by taking away a letter, and the spell checker will see it as perfectly okay.  

3. You'll Never Learn from Your Mistakes

As you can see from the above, when misspelled words aren't seen, the same mistakes can be repeated over and over again.

When you see similar words like "averse" and "adverse", which implies someone is fond of an idea, and don't see these words set in the right context, you end up repeating the same mistake.

4. Awful Sentences Will Go Through Unnoticed

Misplaced modifiers, redundances, and errant quote marks will leave your readers, and anyone editing your work left in horror that you let any of these go unnoticed.

5.  Spell Checkers Make You Lazy

If you're not aware of your mistakes, how do you know your making them?  This makes your writing look sloppy.  But what if you're writing something by hand?  And you simply want to leave someone a note?

What do you do when you don't have a spell checker on hand to tell you how to spell?

6. You May Not Always Have Access to a Spell Checker

If you're totally relying on technology to amend your mistakes, what happens when you don't have it to amend your errors?  As mentioned above, you may end up making some pretty atrocious errors.

This may show more in your texting and emailing skills,  or with someone that really matters to you.  It could leave you feeling really embarrassed at your lack of simple spelling knowledge.

7. Spell Checkers Can Be Wrong

Spell checkers aren't up-to-date with the latest slang terms or neologisms, and can even mark these words incorrect, when they're okay as they are.

8. Spell Checkers Can't See the Difference Between What is Written, and What You Actually Mean When You Write

When you're writing, you're thinking pretty quickly, so you tend to type out what comes into your mind.  This often leaves important words from sentences, and end up leaving you with a bit of a mess.

Spell checkers don't see it that way, they just see if the word has been misspelled.  That's why you need time away from your work after you've finished it, so you can come back to it later.  Giving your eyes time to see your work in a new way.  Helping you to find any mistakes and omissions easily.

The crux of the matter is that technology is really handy, and can save you a lot of time, but in no way is a replacement for the human eye.  All writers should therefore make sure they allow plenty of time to proofread the old fashioned way. 

The good thing about making mistakes is that you learn from them, and you get to see for yourself where you're going wrong.  So don't leave it to your spell or grammar checker when it comes to writing.  Your the best judge of any work you do.

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