Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Spell-Check Trap

Microsoft Word has a handy feature, Spell-Check that many people rely on too much. For one thing, they don't bother to try to spell things properly, relying on a machine to do their thinking, and for another, when they run spell check they don't pay attention to the suggestions and just click "replace all". And don't even get me started on that horrible grammar check (It always accuses me of having fragments. There's a subject, and there's a verb. It's a sentence!)

Anyway, my post today is that I've fallen into the spell-check trap, thanks to the Mozilla Firefox built in spell checker that puts little red squiggles under words and offers suggestions. I sometimes ignore it since it doesn't recognize certain words that are correct spellings, but I frequently rely on it to catch my errors instead of typing/reading carefully like I used to do.

My problem is that now that I have it whenever I use the Internet, I notice the lack of it when I do other things, like Google chat, etc. I want there to be red marks under the words I've spelled wrong to make sure I'm typing the correct spellings! When I felt a little irritated that there were none, I realized that I'd fallen away from my proud stance of not being dependent on machines for writing to...well...relying on machines. Am I going to expect a red line to jet out from my ink pen now when I write?

Luckily there are still some things that I don't need a computer to tell me, like the differences among write, wright, and right. Or knowing when to use "between" and "among".

Anyone else find themselves relying on spell-check a little too much?


Amanda D Allen said...

I'm ashamed to admit it, but I have always been too reliant on spell check. I have been a horrible speller my entire life to the point that I have used Word to spell check a word so that I could look it up in the dictionary. I fall victim to all of the 'commonly misspelled words,' and there is a slew of others that I can never for the life of me get right. Before college I use to do a lot to try to fix my spelling problems. I one time wrote out business 100 times believing that it would teach me how to spell it, and it didn't work. I do try to make note of my spelling errors as I as I hit the replace button (and I never hit replace all) but when the moment of truth comes I can never remember if the I or the S comes first because I know that I always think one and the other is right so I never trust the one that I think.

What spell check has really let me get lazy about is my typing. In word I often find myself not caring if I type teh instead of the because I know that like magic it will become exactly what I intended.

the secret knitter said...

Yes, Firefox's handy spell-check--see, it just told me that's two separate words or needs a hyphen--is so nice. I miss it if I'm using Blogger in IE. (I'd explain, except that it would take too long and isn't interesting.) I take pride in knowing the correct spellings most of the time, but tools like this make it easy to slack off.

The machines are taking over. I have a big dictionary, but I confess that I'll usually pop over to dictionary.com instead.