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Do You Love or Hate Spell Check?

picture of spell check

Many computers and many programs come with built in spell check software. Sometimes it's a life saver, and other times it can be just plain annoying. I'm not a fan of Microsoft Word — it's just too "omniscient," pretending to know what I meant to do or want to do next. It indents when I have no desire to indent, and it corrects spellings I don't want corrected. For instance whenever I was typing in French, Word would add an apostrophe to the word dont ... until I finally went into the settings and changed a few things. Grr!

The iPod and iPad have spell check also, which can be especially irksome. If you don't touch the little x in the suggested spelling, it pops the suggestion into whatever you're typing. And some of the "corrections" are pretty lame. It wants to change my hometown of Fostoria to distorts!

Through the years I have received various versions of a poem about spell checkers. The poem cleverly shows how homonyms would fly under the radar of a spell checker since those words, though grammatically inappropriate, are spelled correctly.

As I did a bit of research today in preparation for this post, I discovered that the original version of the poem written in 1991 by Mark Eckman was much shorter:

I have a spelling checker
It came with my PC
It highlights for my review
Mistakes I cannot sea.

I ran this poem thru it
I'm sure your pleased to no
Its letter perfect in it's weigh
My checker told me sew.

When the poem was shown to Jerry Zar, he wrote the longer version seen below.

Candidate for a Pullet Surprise

I have a spelling checker,
It came with my PC.
It plane lee marks four my revue
Miss steaks aye can knot sea.

Eye ran this poem threw it,
Your sure reel glad two no.
Its vary polished in it’s weigh.
My checker tolled me sew.

A checker is a bless sing,
It freeze yew lodes of thyme.
It helps me right awl stiles two reed,
And aides me when eye rime.

Each frays come posed up on my screen
Eye trussed too bee a joule.
The checker pours o’er every word
To cheque sum spelling rule.

Bee fore a veiling checker’s
Hour spelling mite decline,
And if we’re lacks oar have a laps,
We wood bee maid too wine.

Butt now bee cause my spelling
Is checked with such grate flare,
Their are know fault’s with in my cite,
Of nun eye am a wear.

Now spelling does knot phase me,
It does knot bring a tier.
My pay purrs awl due glad den
With wrapped word’s fare as hear.

To rite with care is quite a feet
Of witch won should bee proud,
And wee mussed dew the best wee can,
Sew flaw’s are knot aloud.

Sow ewe can sea why aye dew prays
Such soft wear four pea seas,
And why eye brake in two averse
Buy righting want too pleas.

© Jerry Zar, June 29, 1992

Does your spell checker make any particularly annoying wrong corrections/suggestions?


"Character of steel is forged on the anvil of hardship." — Brad Lapiska

=^..^= =^..^=

A friend wrote recently to say he got bit by a tick in Southern Florida and developed Key Limes Disease. (Limes — as opposed to Lymes — slipped right past the spell checker.) 🙂

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19 Comments on “Do You Love or Hate Spell Check?”

  1. #1 Nancy
    on Aug 17th, 2011 at 11:23 am

    I’m always amused when spell check changes the name of one of my colleagues to “squeegee,” which is not even close to his real name. And I’m pretty sure I’m more amused than he is.

  2. #2 Vikki
    on Aug 17th, 2011 at 11:42 am

    I always keep the auto correct turned off. It too dangerous to leave on because I don’t always catch the subtle changes it can make, completely changing what I wanted to say. In Word, all I have turned on is the red squiggle under the word and I can choose whether or not I want to change it.

    My sister got an i-phone last spring and turned off the spell check shortly after getting it because the corrections were ofter just too crazy. For example, she took a picture of dogwoods blooming in the mountains and tried to comment it with “oooooooo” but it turned it to “poop”!

  3. #3 Gayle
    on Aug 17th, 2011 at 11:48 am

    I AM a spell checker! By the way you misspelled “grammatically” – LOL

    Enjoyed the poem! 🙂

    Rob adds: Thanks, Gayle! I had to publish this one without the proofreading of my favorite “spell checker” (my wife). I have fixed it in the post. 🙂

  4. #4 Jonathan
    on Aug 17th, 2011 at 11:56 am

    Texting brings out the lazy writer in most of us. However, my father-in-law insisted on texting ‘okey dokey’ instead of just ‘ok’. His phone always respelled it ‘oldy foldy’. Instead of correcting it, we now say, ‘Oldy Foldy’ instead of ‘OK’. What was that about machines some day controlling our minds? Never mind. I gotta go. My TV program is on.

  5. #5 Dave
    on Aug 17th, 2011 at 11:58 am

    That’s pretty clever. The only complaint I would have is that apparently his grammar check was turned off. MS Word checks grammar now (which can sometimes be even MORE irksome), and most of his…we’ll call them phrases…probably wouldn’t pass grammar check. Oh, well. Chalk it up to poetic/artistic license. 🙂 Can’t wait to see you next week! Looks like I might NOT be able to take any of your classes, though. At least, not yet. 🙂

  6. #6 Bill
    on Aug 17th, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    One of our sons wrote a story in junior high about Robin Hood . His premise was that he was a good man because he protected the peasants. Unfortunately, he put the word “pheasants” in place of “peasants”. When we pointed it out, his excuse was that he didn’t understand how that happened, after all he ran spellcheck. Sooo…there were pheasants hiding in the woods, etc., etc. It was hilarious : )

  7. #7 Valerie Coffman
    on Aug 17th, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    Trying to read that poem reminded me of playing Mad Gab!

  8. #8 Michael
    on Aug 17th, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    I’d like to get Key Limes Disease. That sounds tasty.

    As for spell checkers, the poem aptly illustrates how well all still need to know how to spell. We can’t let machines do the thinking for us. More and more there’s a push in education not to make students know how to spell. I believe that’s wrong and potentially scary for us as a civilization.

    On the other end, we gave our son a name that we really like but his name will be flagged on spell check forever. I guess it make people look to see if they’ve really spelled it correctly.

    And something funny that happened just yesterday. I had a student tell me that he attends a “Babptist” church then right next to it wrote “spelt wrong”.

  9. #9 Barbara H.
    on Aug 17th, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    I’m not a great typist, and one word that I tend to mistype is “beautiful” — I tend to transpose the “t” and “i”. I must’ve accidentally clicked “Add to dictionary” one time when spell-checker caught it instead of clicking on the correct spelling, because now my spell-checker shows the transposed version as correct! But having to pay special attention to that word has (mostly) corrected my typing of it.

  10. #10 Karen M.
    on Aug 17th, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    I teach high school English and expository writing and ask them to never rely on Spellcheck. Ask the assistance of a trustworthy proofreader!

  11. #11 Wally
    on Aug 17th, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    I use M$ Word for a daily journal. After a year’s worth of entries Word complains there’s too many words to do spell check.

  12. #12 Carrie
    on Aug 17th, 2011 at 7:28 pm

    I must be low-tech. I just get the squiggly red line. Which is FINE with me! I’ve heard friends complain about the ridiculous suggestions their phones make. 🙂

  13. #13 Gaye
    on Aug 17th, 2011 at 9:39 pm

    Once in a notice for an after-school activity, I promised to serve the students “snakes” rather than “snacks,” thanks to spellchecker correcting my typo of “snakcs.” My principal thought it was rather funny, thankfully!

  14. #14 Don Johnson
    on Aug 18th, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    to really make mistakes, you need Dragon Naturally Speaking… every error is spelled absolutely correctly, but you have to watch it like a hawk because you too often miss them, even when you are staring right at the screen as it is ‘typing’ for you. I gave up writing my sermons with it after a couple of tries… too many occasions where I can’t understand what I am saying! I still use it for inputting research, however.

  15. #15 Jason
    on Aug 18th, 2011 at 11:58 pm

    I got this from a Foxtrot comic strip:

    “Mari ha duh lid tel lam ids flees was white has no.”

    Most spell checks find nothing wrong with it.

  16. #16 Corene
    on Aug 19th, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    This IV sent me back to EN102 with Dr. St John. He would read the Spelling Checker poem every semester (yes I retook EN102).

    I’m happy to say that my computer doesn’t change the words I just get the little squiggly line under the misspelled words or what the computer thinks is spelled wrong. But my droid…that’s another story. Can’t tell you how many times I have accidentally sent messages to people and the sentence makes no sense.

  17. #17 katelyn
    on Aug 21st, 2011 at 6:47 am

    I am a former spelling bee champ in the 8th grade (no joke)…spell checker in MS word (or google emails for that matter) drives me insane. Even when I DO spell something correctly, like a name, it has to keep annoyoing me with those little red squiggly lines.

    My husband loves it because he cannot spell his way out of a paper bag…but then, as many have mentioned here, the end result is that you’ve said things that you never meant to say. Sometimes technology is great. Sometimes not so much.=)

    Really enjoyed the poem!

  18. #18 Elizabeth
    on Aug 23rd, 2011 at 11:26 pm

    M. Loach,
    I know with a Mac you can change your computer’s language settings. I changed mine to French once so I could type out some notes from your class. It completely changed my keyboard around, but it took care of all of those annoying squiggly lines. 🙂

  19. #19 Jason
    on Aug 24th, 2011 at 8:26 am

    @Elizabeth – Actually, there’s a good work-around for those special characters on Macs. Hold down alt, and press a letter.

    For example, alt + “e” — ´ over any letter – é, á, ó etc
    alt + the key by “1” with the “~” and “`” — ` above any letter ù, ì, ò
    alt + “C” – ç
    alt plus “I” — ˆ over any letter – û, î, ê
    alt plus “N” — ˜ over any letter – ñ
    alt + “Q” — œ
    alt + the ” key — æ

    basically, alt plus any key gives you another character, and some you can put above another letter (like pressing alt + e, which gives you a ´, then pressing another letter – ó. These are just the ones I could think of relating to French. This discovery was a lifesaver in French class!

    Oh, and alt + shift + any key gives you a whole new set of characters. Fun stuff!