Friday, August 14, 2009

The price of good spelling

For some strange reason, this reminds me of my mom. Not because mom could contort her face so strangely, or because she had a replica of a computer from some 1950's sci-fi show, but because she was a terrible speller. Granted, she never lost a moment of sleep due to the fact that she couldn't spell... oh whatever.

Funny that this product probably sold for an insane amount of money in its day (1981 to be precise, according to the copyright). Nowadays, FOSS web browsers automagically spell-check anything that I type, even blog posts.

Now as I see all this spell-checking software in everything I do on the computer, that makes me think: does the fact that computers assist in correcting my spelling teach me how to spell better, or does it provide a crutch so I don't have to think about it? It's hard for me, personally, to consider this since I've always been very good at spelling (the wall full of spelling bee trophies at home tells me so). I wonder if studies have been done on this. Time to consult the Oracle of Google for more information.

This blog post from the 'Language Log', University of Pennsylvania, gives some interesting points, explaining that language is in need of better standards, drawing on conclusions from how people wrote during Elizabethan times. I guess they didn't have Webster back then to provide a baseline (and no, I'm not talking about the TV show - Webster has been publishing dictionaries longer than most of you have been alive). Pervasively enforcing spelling based on a global standard adds validity to spell checking, in this author's humble opinion, but this still doesn't answer my original question. If any of my readers have any insight, please let me know.

Hats off to SpellStar for paving the way! (And thanks to for posting such awesomeness)

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