Recently I read an article about people incorrectly pluralizing names. The gist of it was that people are using apostrophes when they want to talk about the Watsons. When this editor explains that it’s wrong to write Watson’s to indicate more than one Watson, people—writers and journalists—insist they are correct and order the apostrophe to remain.
Reading that, I scratched my head. How could people not know the difference between plural and possessive? I’ll tell you how. It’s the evil and criminally incorrect Spellcheck.
As I’m writing along and correctly pluralize a name, what appears but the jagged red line informing me of a spelling error. I right click and guess what? I have two options: make the name singular or—you got it—use an apostrophe. Many of us realize this is ridiculous and add the plural name to our customized dictionaries. Problem solved. Except, many more think Spellcheck is Gospel.
They see two options and choose the one that ends in S even if it includes an apostrophe for no right reason. In an age where grammar is rarely taught and spelling gets a mere nod, Spellcheck is training indignant misspellers. (Yes, I took creative license with that word because misspell and speller both appear in the dictionary and a speller who misspells is a misspeller.) ha ha
Fun aside, let’s talk about another crime of spellcheck. Have you ever been writing along and you know a word like sidesaddle is written sidesaddle but the squiggly line tells you to make it side saddle? Or door jamb. Or whatever. Now, I’m not always right. So when I get that little trigger that says I need to change something, I bring up a dictionary and double-check. No, I was right the first time. Stop telling me to break words that shouldn’t be.
Then I wonder, how many people don’t look it up because they trust Spellcheck? Spellcheck wouldn’t lie. Spellcheck couldn’t be wrong. Sigh.
I don’t expect it to be exhaustive. I can forgive all the words that aren’t recognized. I happily add them in. I love words. The more the merrier. So I can give Spellcheck a nudge, no problem.
I also know I can turn it off, but I actually do appreciate when it catches a slip of a finger called a typo. And I appreciate it when I can’t, off the top of my head, recall an exact spelling. Spellcheck rocks for both those things. But can we all agree it’s not perfect and take the time to learn something before we argue for errors because Spellcheck said so?
A tool is only as good as the tool who uses it. Ha ha.