Bob’s slip in spelling is showing

Bob's slip in spelling is showing By Bob Karolevitz English is a strange and complex language. It�s a wonder so many people speak it.

Actually, it took a computer�s Spellcheck to finally convince me of that fact.

The culprit � if I can call it that � was the word �wether,� a castrated male lamb. Spellcheck made it �whether,� which changed the meaning of the sentence I wrote.

It could just as well have been �weather,� because the words all sound the same.

That caused me to be on the alert for other examples of electronic editing. And I found them, too. In my sleuthful reading, I discovered that �fourth� became �forth;� �chord� became �cord;� �heard� became �herd� and �faze� became �phase.�

I was onto something. There were others, of course: sea/see, so/sew, beet/beat, spayed/spade, cheep/cheap, hare/hair, pore/pour, roll/role, rite/right, taut/taught, etc. � but you get the picture. All of them can be screwed up by Spellcheck.

Proofreaders, beware � not wear or where!

Sometimes I think technology has gone too (not to or two) far. There�s hardly anything left for us humans to do � except to clean up the mistakes that Spellcheck has left.

On a related subject, the Benedictine Sisters taught me never to end a sentence with a preposition, to always use the objective and subjective cases correctly and not to split an infinitive (and I already did in the second paragraph of this column).

Ha, now most folks wouldn�t recognize an infinitive if it sneaked up and bit them. And cases are for beer bottles.

As for not ending a sentence with a preposition, I always think of Winston Churchill. (I�ve used the anecdote before, but it bears repeating.)

When he was writing his memoirs, his editor was a stickler for the rules of grammar. Always she corrected his manuscript, especially if he finished a sentence with an offending word.

He didn�t like it at all; and after it happened several times, he wrote her a stinging note which read: �This is the kind of editing up with which I shall not put!�

Good for old Winnie.

He made it possible for me to break a rule or two now and then � although I imagine that Sister Genevieve (bless her long departed soul) wouldn�t agree.

Now I can split an infinitive occasionally, end a sentence with a preposition and say �Woe is me� without having pangs of conscience.

The main thing is: I know what rule I�m breaking! My teachers made sure of that.

I started this piece ranting against that technological innovation called Spellcheck. I admit it�s all right if used properly, but � like Winston Churchill said � faulty editing is something �up with which I shall not put.�

If the proof reader isn�t careful, the wrong word can slip through.

� 2005 Robert F. Karolevitz

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