The Grammar Fuzz: Life in the Time of Spellcheck Nov21

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The Grammar Fuzz: Life in the Time of Spellcheck


A Proof of Nerd ID by Kasey Bomber

Technically, I know that Spelling and Grammar are two different things.  Grammar is how you use those words you should know how to spell, but poor spelling and poor grammar can be equally off-putting when it comes to moments where a good first e-pression counts.  Times such as job cover letters, homework assignments for that online business class you signed up for so you can start that topless cupcake bakery/dog walking service, or those all-important online flirtations that start with LOL and end with a UHaul.

Whereas sentence structure can always be monkeyed with for the sake of personal expression, because sometimes you. just. need. to. emphasize. something. with. punctuation!  Spelling is a little bit of a different animal, though text messagers and 1337 geeks will tell you differently.  But, when they try to tell you differently, or they start ROTFLing or giving you “teh” business, you have my permission to kick them in the nuts for ruining the beauty and complexity of the written word with their junior high note-passing lexicon of squiggles, emoticons (*ew, shudder*), and abbreviations.  If you’ll allow me to sound like Jessica Tandy’s childhood friend for a moment:  When I was a girl, people could actually express emotions with carefully chosen, correctly spelled words arranged in sentences completely devoid of yellow faces with red wagging tongues.

Until they invent a font denoting sarcasm, some of you will continue to rely on the dreaded emoticon (I hate that fucking shirt you wore today.  It made you look fat!  LOL ) to get you out of trouble for saying something potentially inflammatory (or to make some asshole comment seem like a joke, see above), while I, and my fellow grammarian contrarians will continue to use our dictionarial prowess to tell you how we feel.

But long before the introduction of these visual indicators, the computer gave us another crutch for masking stupidity: the spell check.  Sure it would be easy to blame the failures of the public school system for people’s utter inability to express the proper use of “your” vs. “you’re” or decipher the correct instance of using “they’re” as opposed to “their” or “there.”  But, instead, I prefer to blame the spell checking monkey that lives in all our computers.  This monkey can tell you if you spelled something correctly, but is an utter moron when it comes to letting you know that you’ve done something grammatically akin to leaving your fly down.

For instance, recently, I read a screenplay by a perfectly intelligent friend who repeatedly referred to the “grocery store isles.”  Last I checked, the Grocery Store Isles is not a chain of islands located south of Fiji and serviced by Virgin Air and non-virgin daiquiris, but is rather a sentence laid victim to the spell check simian in her Final Draft Pro software.  Isles/Aisles…so close, yet so far away.  They are homophones, so you can’t point and jeer at the mistake, but since spell check has no contextual investigative capability, she ends up looking like a dope when really she just glossed over it for lack of time.

The moral of the story is, don’t let spell check stand in for human proofreading.  Theirs every possibility that ewe may end up looking like a tulle.