The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Stuff Spell-Check Won’t Fix

Posted on | May 17, 2011 | 25 Comments

Sissy Willis re-Tweeted a link to a post at The Anchoress in which Max Lindenman talks about the growing menace of bad punctuation, including people who don’t know the God-Fearing American Way of putting commas or periods inside the quotation marks.

Go read Lindeman’s post, and then come back here and we’ll have a little talk, OK?

Are computers destroying our ability to write good English? I am anti-spell-check, despising it as a crutch to enable the orthographically deficient to enjoy the illusion that they know how to spell words they actually can’t spell. So I never spell-check what I write here on the blog.

When I’m writing on Microsoft Word, as I do for my American Spectator articles, the “autocorrect” function will sometimes catch a typographical error. But an honest-to-God typo (when you accidently mis-type a word that you actually know how to spell) is one thing. Lazily relying on spell-check because you can’t be bothered to learn to spell? That’s something else.

Spelling is not a talent. Spelling is a skill. And skills that are not practiced have a way of atrophying. It is therefore obvious that the Spell-Check Age bodes ill for the future of good spelling. There are even worse omens, however.

My youngest sons, ages 10 and 12, have gotten into the (bad) habit of borrowing my cell phone to text their (girl) friends. And when I get my phone back from them, I occasionally check the inbox to see the messages they have received.

Nothing is capitalized. Punctuation seems to be optional. “You” is always “u,” “see” is always “c,” and “to” is always “2.”

ok i understand kidz  jst do this 2 typ fastr in msgs but its still annoying 4 me 2 c

God help us.

No matter what instrument is being used for writing — a pencil, a laptop or a cell phone — good spelling and grammar still matter. If you do not habitually practice the habits of literacy, you run the risk of becoming semi-literate and incapable of effective writing.

Merely being able to write correctly is not, however, to be confused with writing well. That is to say, good grammar does not guarantee that what you are writing will be coherent or interesting. However, correct grammar and spelling are (or at least should be) viewed as a prerequisite to good writing.

UPDATE: The Dustbury-‘Lanche!


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