Nfld. & Labrador·Point of View

Hey, autocorrect and spellcheck. We gotta talk

The words that gets autocorrected and spellchecked have a lot to say about us, writes Prajwala Dixit.

Cumberbatch? No problem. But Puddester? Dosa? You just don't compute

Have we built our biases into autocorrect and spell check programs? Prajwala Dixit thinks so. (Shutterstock / alwaysloved afilm)

Dear autocorrect and spellcheck, 

We are so grateful that you are a part of our lives. We want you to know that we value your contributions to humanity. You are surrounded by people who want the best for you. 

The other day, a friend kindly tweeted about my children's play series, The Tales Of Dwipa. that takes place on an island called Dwipa. But, of course, the genius you are, you turned it into "The Tales of Dwight." No doubt The Tales Of Dwight would make for a very interesting enactment, but please stop with the urge to correct things to what you think sounds right.

It's annoying. And it didn't end here.

You have switched "Hari" to "Harold" and "Prajwala" to "peanut." I know non-white names may be a challenge for you to spell, but jeez, b'y, you gotta try!

Perhaps you have the best intentions at heart but frankly it is getting a little tiring. 

Spellcheck, at least autocorrect is new at this. But you've been around way longer! 

How about that extra 'u'?

You have no problem with my spelling of "Tchaikovsky" and "Zabaglione," "Cumberbatch" and "bouillabaisse." But when I start writing about Newfoundland names and Indian food, boy oh boy, you're as mad as a third-grade teacher.

Red marks all over when while attempting to spell "Fizzard" and "Dosa," "Puddester" and "Idli," "Critch" and "Sagu," reminding me of that stern look peeping over cat-framed glasses on spelling "savoury" the American way.

While we're on this topic of "savoury," just a polite reminder that it's OK to have the extra "u" in a humorous piece speaking about the lack of labour in recognizing the flavour of neighbouring cultures in a word processing software.

Now, we know you aren't as messy as your ancestor, the correction liquid, but those bottles had a certain charm. While we carefully covered our mistakes, the tingling chemical smell infused our nostrils. Dictionary in one hand, pen in the other, wrongs could be righted only after the white ink dried. Oh, time-consuming, human system, I miss you!

Our problem with you, autocorrect and spellcheck, is not the fact that you make mistakes. I mean, who doesn't? It's your head-in-the-sand attitude.

Are we to blame?

But your antics have not always been a source of grief.

You're in tune with the fact that we love laughing at other people's mistakes and embarrassment.

And you've managed to capitalize on all the annoyance, pittance and confusion emerging from "fixing" sentences, spellings and grammar.

Don't believe me? Then look at the times you've trended on social media and become more famous than Sweet Brown's famous "ain't nobody got time for that" proclamation. (Try spellchecking that!)

You've become such an adage to our world we've decided spelling is best practised in contests. Ironically, I bet you have a hard time with the names of the winners of Scripps National Spelling Bee.

But are we to blame you for this? Or ourselves? Perhaps, this isn't your fault. You are, after all, a product of our conscience. When we built you up, line by line of code, we fed you our own narrow views of what English might be and who speaks it.

We know you're working on it. And so are we. But it's 2019. Let's all try harder.


A well-wishing ranter

Read more stories from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador