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Last updateFri, 23 Sep 2022 3pm

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Which is better? A spellchecker or a proofreader

Previously this column pointed out some problems associated with spell-checking software and how even the best programs have trouble with homonyms.

That was obviously the case with the office memo in which the manager stated “No Smoking Aloud.”  Aside from spell checkers failing to identify the use of a wrong word, missing one letter, adding one, or using one wrong one can be a big problem.

Spell checkers have an almost impossible time identifying a correctly-spelled word that is the wrong word. An ad for a Pentax Optio M60 Compact Digital Camera actually read “You’ll always be ready for a sh*t.”(That asterisked vowel was not an “o”). A grocery store once advertised “Porn & Beans” while a Chinese restaurant menu featured “human beef” and a choice of “deserts.” Those mistakes could have been what led someone to advertise for an “English tutor.” A church bulletin stated there would be “A moment of silence for prayer and medication.” I cannot even quote the example confusing “mature” with “manure” and there is not enough room on this page to describe the confusion that resulted from a spell checker substituting “wife” for “wifi.”

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