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Spelling - The New Democracy

By       Message Horace J. Digby       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink

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Google is my new spell checker. Just type in any version of a word and see how many "hits" you get. It's ever so democratic, letting the Internet vote on spelling. Even the word "dictionary" is beginning to sound so . . . well, dictatorial.

Here's how my system works. Take a word, like "dichotomy." If you Google it as "d-i-c-h-o-t-e-m-y" (without the hyphens of course) you get eight 813 hits. This means 813 people think you spelled it right. But "d-i-c-h-o-t-o-m-y" with a second "o" gets 12,600,000 votes. Isn't that great?

Sure 813 people think you are wrong, but the other 12,600,000 could beat the phonics out of those guys in a fair fight.

And the next time your son or daughter gets marked down for spelling "dichotomy" with an "e," this data proves that little Johnny or Barbara is entitled to partial credit, at least. Dan Quayle is demanding a recount on his "potato" goof back in 1992. His spelling, "potatoe," gets a respectable 1,300,000 votes on Google. But then, "optato" (the typo I entered on my first try) got 924,000.

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The point is (with all due respect to Webster, Cambridge and Oxford) dictionaries are a thing of the past. Instead of just seeing what Webster thinks, now we can find out how everybody spells a word. Dictionaries no longer serve any function, except of course if you want to know what a word means.

Search engines don't work well for that. Take "dichotomy." To me it sounds like an operation . . . "They are going to take my dichotomy out next Tuesday.

When I Google it there's this big split of opinion. It's like two different schools of thought--two entrenched camps--exist around the meaning of "dichotomy."

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One down-side of using search engines for spell checkers is, you have to come up with alternate spellings-especially if the your first try doesn't get many votes. A good rule of thumb is, if you get less than ten million hits, you're spelling it wrong. On the other hand, just try looking up "soriasis" in Webster's. You'll never find it. On Google it gets 52,800 hits.

Andrew Jackson said, "It is a damn poor mind that cannot think of more than one way to spell a word."

I actually found five versions of Jackson's quote on the net. One site left out the word "damn." Heck, even Nixon deleted expletives. But in this case, the title of the site with this "D" word sensitivity is, "A Hell of a Parentheses." No kidding. Another site attributed the quote to Thomas Jefferson. Many things are attributed to Jefferson lately.

I've figure Jackson's original quote was probably: "It is a damn poor mind indeed that can think of only one way to misquote a President."

-- Horace J. Digby

Copyright 2006 Lexington Film, LLC. All rights reserved


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Whether it's mishaps with a French-for-Travelers CD, or a media technology that corrects errors before they occur, Horace J. Digby never even sees the mark.

Winner of the Robert Benchley Society Award for Humor; selected to judge the (more...)

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