Monday, February 8, 2016

Do You Trust Spellchecker? Paula Rose Weighs In

Welcome to Writing Talk Tuesday!

Today’schalkboard_quotes_twain guest is author Paula Rose, who shares some thoughts on the fallible spellchecker…



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When Spell Checker Lets You Down . . . and down . . . and down, again.

There is one thing that I’ve learned about spell checker, and it’s not one thing that I will soon forget. Spell checker will keep letting you down because the English language isn’t one to be very clear. Does every language have three different versions and spellings of a same sounding words where the meaning is different in all cases?

A) My favorite example is: There. Their. They’re. To spell checker, each word is spelled correctly. However, when their there is over here and they’re going after it, the application will behave accordingly.

B) It’s only when our own mistakes go deeper than a simple spelling error will this function deem to make some suggestions. My question then becomes what is their suggestion?

1) My sentence version: They’re going their and there what problems can arise?

2) Spell checker sentence version: They’re going there and they’re what problems can arise?

Although, sometimes, this software function will offer up something different. If I choose the suggestion in my own automated way, at the wrong time, I could have just changed my error for another mistake. Can you understand why I would question the suggestions?

It used to be my own assumption that the application will know better than I would. It’s that old artificial intelligence can do what I do better theory.

In many ways, a computer can do better than me, but in some ways, the software will not. Spell checker cannot understand context in language to determine the correct version of any word. It will tell you what is spelled correctly unless the word is an acronym or a proper name or noun that it does not recognize, and it might ask you if you mean something else like when using the words to, two or too.

3) My first sentence version: Sure, I do like to go down the shore but sunburn makes me sore.

4) My second sentence version: Shore, the sun will give me sunburn down at the sure.

C) Spell check did not correct my mistakes in either of the above sentences. Inside number three, the alliteration will get you tongue-tied, but inside number four, I don’t believe the sun will be down at this sure.

D) Exactly, what did I learn from all this?

1) Proofreading doesn’t mean only spell checker is needed, but this function is truly needed in riting writing. In my righting this article, you can see how errors will still pass the computer’s check list, but this previous sentence needs help in construction, in word definition, and in structure.

2) I can see and understand how much editing can help with these types of issues.

E) Now, this next example will prove how I used two different words incorrectly inside two different sentences in a pre-edited version of Revenge. I will confess that I’ve done this much more than twice! Each word is spelled correctly, but the sentence suffered by my own mistakes.

1) Shaken with fear and concern for the missing, she made it a point to reign rein in her emotional state and to focus on the client.

2) He was given the information asked for in a forthright manor manner, lending to the feel that the emotional scales here were out of line.

This article is one author’s proof that proofreading, editing, and a good story does go way beyond the spell check function. In fact, I’ve learned that rewriting is writing, developmental edits, content edits, and line edits will make a story shine, teach the writer more about their tale, and catch everything from slang and structure to punctuation plus everything else in between the cover of a book.

smallerpaulrosepicnewestAuthor Bio: Author Paula Rose brings an “average” family into extraordinary situations, brushes with life-size strokes of reality, adding just a touch of humor, and coats with suspense inside Christian fiction. Paula’s research gives readers a panoramic view from law enforcement and lends to character authenticity. She enjoys writing in the romantic suspense, suspense, and mystery genres, but when she’s not writing, Paula Rose is reading or playing amateur photographer. Member of ACFW. 2015 Genesis Contest judge. NetGalley member. 2014 Grace Awards judge.

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NOTE from Peg: For obvious reasons, I did NOT run this article through Spellchecker!  Smile

TWEET THIS: [bctt tweet="#Spellchecker: Bane...or Blessing? Join Author Paula Rose'PaulaRoseauthor on #whispersinpurple and YOU decide #writing #spelling #grammar"]


  1. Peg, I thank you for helping me to spread the word about spell checker on your amazing blog!

  2. It was my pleasure, Paula, and thank you so much for the great article.