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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Spell check follies | Tom Stern, NewsPointer

I'm guessing that Tom Stern's amusing, sarcastic and valid critique of computer spell-checking programs is mostly about Microsoft Word. His comments are worth reading, partially because he points out many more outrageous errors by Word's artificial intelligence than I've ever experienced.

Stern writes, correctly:
Don’t get me wrong; spell check can be helpful. But anyone who follows blindly will pay a steep price.
He also points out that the grammar-checking function of the spell-check (SC) tool also isn't foolproof:
If they take SC’s advice uncritically, they’ll be giving the world epic stinkers like “neither can me,” “say it like you means it,” “some is drinking,” “there will also being” and “does your family knows?” Let all of the above — or as SC prefers, “the entire above” — be a dire warning to credulous technology huggers everywhere.
Some other Stern discoveries while working with quirky friend, SC:
  • He [SC] changed “old folks home” to “folk’s.” You could argue in favor of “old folks’ home” (s plus apostrophe), but “old folk’s”? What’s an “old folk”? ...
  • How did “mineswept” become “mines wept”? Since when is sunniness “sandiness”? Why would a cul de sac be a “cool” de sac? ... 
  • Tell you what, SC: I promise I won’t expound on computer terms like cache hierarchy and SHTML. In return, you have to stop telling me that mahi mahi should be “macho macho”; “unbreaded” should be “inbreeded”; panna cotta should be “panda” cotta ....
The point is, no matter how useful you find these tools--and no matter how much you need their help--do not depend on them for 100 percent accuracy. You must use your judgment in evaluating their suggestions

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