Now that so many of us are BFF forever with our electronic gadgets, we have new tools for communicating—or failing to communicate, as the case may be.
Word processing software now comes with spelling and grammar checkers. I expect most writers find them helpful, but they don’t make a very good crutch.
For one thing, some of the grammar checkers contain hard-coded grammatical errors. And even if the suggested correction isn’t simply wrong, it might make hash of the meaning of the sentence.
Spelling, or, software fails
The spelling checker will bleed red all over people’s names, correctly spelled foreign words, brand names, and all kinds of things. On the other hand, just because a word is spelled correctly doesn’t mean that it’s the right word. I have had fun with that in my occasional series on “misused pears.”
Years ago, a poem about spell checkers made the rounds of forwarded email. I just ran across a version of it again and love to share this kind of thing:
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, I
t 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.
Did you know that a comma can be the difference between life and death? I’d far rather hear someone say, “Let’s eat, David” than “Let’s eat David.”
Here’s a favorite gem that shows how different choices of punctuation can change the entire meaning of exactly the same sequence of words:
I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful. People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever when we’re apart. I can forever be happy—will you let me be yours?
I want a man who knows what love is. All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful people, who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me. For other men, I yearn. For you, I have no feelings whatsoever. When we’re apart, I can forever be happy. Will you let me be?
Image credits: sources unknown