Sometimes words come out looking like the reject pile in a game of Scrabble.
Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously available online since 1983


The spell checker from hell: Share this with your fiends

March 6, 2011

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2011, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2011, The Post-Standard

   I learned how to spell many years ago.
   My third grade teacher made sure I knew that "I" comes before "E" except after "C." And I've never forgotten that some words, like "reveling," don't get a double whatever-it's-called when you add "ing."
   But the rules seem to have changed. I think "I" still comes before "E," but sometimes words just come out wrong on my chosen writing instrument, Apple's iPad. In nearly every way, the iPad is great for writing. I can use it anywhere, it's got its own keyboard that hides away when I don't need it, and it's got a fabulous spell checker.
   Um, scratch that last part. It's the spell checker's autocorrect that's the problem.
   Friends who write on the iPhone, which uses the same autocorrect method, sometimes call it (pardon my language) "the spell checker from hell."
   It's not that the spell checker and autocorrect are incompetent. If anything, they're super competent. They know every word in the universe. But like an idiot savant who can do square roots in his head but can't tie his own shoes, the autocorrect in my iPad helps me spell ridiculously obtuse words but insists on revising simple everyday words while I am typing them. Sometimes they come out looking like the reject pile in a game of Scrabble.
   Let me give you a real, live example.
   The other day I was writing a message and typed, or tried to type, this sentence: "Help me find this album."
   The first time I typed those characters, the sentence came out this way: "Help me fond jco album."
   JCO? And "fond"? I realize I might have hit a few wrong keys, but could I have been THAT far off?
   But that was nothing compared to what happened next.
   I typed the same sentence again just to see what would happen. Here's what appeared: "Help me fond tacosoabu."
   So if you see a tacosoabu, help me fond it.
   In the meantime, check out the website iPhone and iPad spell-check sufferers have put up to celebrate their crazed devices: http://damnyouautocorrect.com.
   Share it with your fiends.
   Darn autocorrect! I mean "friends."