12.0482 over-reliance on spelling checkers

Humanist Discussion Group (humanist@kcl.ac.uk)
Sat, 6 Mar 1999 16:28:15 +0000 (BST)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 12, No. 482.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

Date: Sat, 06 Mar 1999 14:48:23 +0000
From: Paul Brians <brians@mail.wsu.edu>
Subject: Errors caused by over-reliance on spelling checkers

I maintain a site called "Common Errors in English"
<http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/> which attracts a lot of
correspondence. Recently a fellow named Sean Sligo sent me an intriguing
little list of words which are commonly misspelled in ways that prompt
spelling checkers to offer further misspellings rather than the correct
spelling. Often these mistaken suggestions are automatically and
unthinkingly accepted by the writer, resulting in odd results.

Here's an example from a brief essay on the topic he wrote at my request:

For instance, my spell checker will easily catch and correct "definately",
returning the correct result. If, however, the word supplied is
"definantly," a common Web word-mangling, the only word the spell checker
can suggest is "defiantly." Hence the occasional assertion of the form
"Lincoln is defiantly the best president America ever had."

Take a look at his short list at
<http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/spellcheck.html>. I would appreciate a
few more examples of common words which get mangled this way.

Paul Brians, Department of English
Washington State University
Pullman, WA 99164-5020

Humanist Discussion Group
Information at <http://www.kcl.ac.uk/humanities/cch/humanist/>