Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Spell Checker

Do you ever wonder about the spell checker on your computer?

You know - that function that when you spell a word incorrectly, it makes a stab at it. "Did you mean ...." it politely suggests

I mean who programmes the suggestions that it comes up with.

My old computer always took this responsibility seriously. If I keyed in "prolbem" it would enquire as to whether I really meant "problem". And without a doubt, I did.

But this new computer appears to have a frivolous side. It does not take it's spell checker duties seriously.

I meant to type in "rhamnosus" - it's the name of a bacteria - but my fingers managed to transpose two letters to make this "rhanmosus".

Now, I'm the first to admit that "rhanmosus" is a tricky one to make a suggestion for, but my OLD spell checker would have given it due consideration and asked if perhaps I meant "ransom" or "Ramses". Look, I would have been happy with a stab at "hanuman", the sacred monkey of India, or even "hippopotamus", the not very sacred podge from Africa. Those are honest attempts that I can understand.

(In actual fact my old spell checker knew how to spell this word as well as a zillion other tricky bacterial names and would have simply given me the correct spelling without making such a song and dance about it.)

But no, the NEW computer studied my incorrect spelling of "rhanmosus" and suggested "southwesterly" or if I didn't fancy that I could have "doorhandle"!

So I ask you, who programmes these things?

Is it some strange little man with a twisted sense of humour? I suspect it must be. No one else could come up with such off-target suggestions.

In some dark room at the back of Spell Checker Headquarters, there is a middle aged geek working his way through a secondhand copy of the Latvian to English translation dictionary. And right now he's thinking "today's word is "porridge"" and it really doesn't matter what you type in.

Whatever your word, he's going to very politely suggest, "Did you mean porridge"!


Leah J.Utas said...

"Rhamnosus" equals doorhandle?
Now that's creative. Or Mr. Spell Check Programmer been sniffing the hard copies too long.

Susan said...

But at least you know "he" is totally wrong.

What about the stupidity of not knowing which word is correct in the sentence? "He" doesn't care. As long as it is a word.

It doesn't matter if you bought too books. Or if you went two the store. Or what about "sum" other inane "ok" on spellcheckers?

Sometimes I admit, I get lazy. And then later, I re-read what I wrote. Sure, no spelling errors, just grammatical ones. Can't depend on "anyone"!

the Bag Lady said...

Damn, Leah beat me to that one! Spell Checker is so totally American, too. Try spelling things the Canadian way and see what happens! And every time I type in certain names, up comes that stupid squiggly red line...Sheesh. (like right there under sheesh!) Geez, there it is again....okay, damnit, the whole friggin' line is underlined....
I quit.

Dawn said...

Leah - He had to be sniffing something!

Susan - I have the grammar thing switched on and it manages to make an even bigger hash of things. And it doesn't like sentence fragments. But I do. Use them all the time!

Bag Lady - I've got mine switched to American spelling now (or I hope I have - it keeps switching back) because almost everyone who reads anything of mine on the web is from America.

I didn't know Canadians had different spelling again. How do you spell the "our" words?

We have colour and favourite but America seems to be color and favorite

Reb said...

Dawn, I laughed out loud on the bus as I was reading this earlier. It can get to be very frustrating. Yes, here in Canada we use colour and favourite etc. I usually set stuff to English UK if I can't get English Canada. I find it very funny that it underlines okay in all versions of English though.

the Bag Lady said...

We spell things the same way you do, I assume. The proper way! :)

the Bag Lady said...

Oooh, the Bag Lady is going to be in so-o-o much trouble from all our American friends....and so many of them are her favourites. (I just had to get that little squiggly red line happening...)

Clare2e said...

No static from me. Though a Yankee, I grew up reading Brit books and acclimated to the spellings. My spellchecker always catches me on 'grey' which I prefer to 'gray' and on 'theatre,' which I also type instinctively and prefer to the American version. I'm looking at the red underlines right now : )

Dawn- Had you taught your old spell checker those words or did it just have a better medical dictionary built into it? I find myself adding specialties like 'spelunking' or the adjectival versions of words all the time. But I can't explain your journey to doorhandle. In fact, my spell checker doesn't even recognize 'spellchecker' and 'doorhandle' as properly compounded words. Yeesh.

Adrienne said...

Dawn! You're back (and obviously have been for a while)! That is so exciting, now I must go read all the posts I missed. I missed you!!

Merry said...

Microsoft Word (Word 97) used to have an 'easter egg' in its programming, where if you typed in something like "I'd like to see Bill Gates dead" and checked the Thesaurus, you'd see the phrase "I'll drink to that."

Putt knot yore trussed inn spiel chequers.*

*Say this sentence out loud and it makes sense, pretty much.

the Bag Lady said...

Dawn, as soon as you have a minute, come check out the Bag Lady's blog - you've been tagged! (Please don't hate me....)

Crabby McSlacker said...

My favorite is my spellchecker's dislike of the word colonoscopy, even when it's spelled properly. It prefers kaleidescope.

Actually, I'd prefer a kaleidescope to a colonoscopy too.

Travis Erwin said...

Whoever it was I bet they enjoyed Mad Libs as a kid.