We all commit typos; many’s the slip twixt brain and finger. Of late my generation of typos has increased greatly because I am now using the little chiclet keyboard that is standard for iMacs. I rather like this keyboard because it’s small enough that my mouse is no longer banished to some distant Siberia on my far right; now it sits well within arm’s reach.
However, the chicklet keyboard doesn’t have the dished surfaces that help center my fingers, nor does it have the little upraised dots that help center my hands; it is therefore easier to misplace my hands and mistype. I suspect that the reduced travel of the keys reduces the dangers of carpal tunnel syndrome. But it definitely increases the number of typos I suffer. I’m sure that, with time, my fingers will adapt and I’ll make fewer mistakes.
Meanwhile, a new problem has arisen: the checko. This occurs when the word you type is patronizingly replaced by the spellcheck software. A variety of factors can induce such erros. For me, the use of neologisms is a common trigger. When I type “checko”, the spellchecker replaces it with “check”. I have to go back and set it right. Fortunately, the spellchecker is polite enough to accept my second entry.
This really isn’t much of a problem; after all, this is probably the best possible response to a neologism. The problem is more serious when a mistyped word is misrecognized. This is particularly common with various homonyms such as “their - there”, but I have found mistakes for all sorts of words scattered through these essays. I’m a good speller and I haven’t needed spell-checking for years. I have not found a means to turn off spellchecking, so I have been unable to determine if spell-checking is worthwhile.
Then there are typos that the spell-checker misses, such as ‘een’, ‘offf’, ‘weeell’, and anything that’s so unrecognizable that the spell-checker has no idea what to do with them. I note with pleasure, however, that the Mac spell-checker is very smart. For example, it no longer attempts to correct ‘checko’; having seen me use it several times, it now respects my neologism. That’s impressive software. I wonder if Windows 8 has a built-in spell-checker as smart as this? I doubt it.
I am disturbed, however, by the frequency of checkos appearing on the web. It seems that people just don’t notice the substitution of the wrong word for a misspelled word. This has happened to me several times.
All in all, spell-checkers are beneficial; I’m sure that, without them, the wretched spelling skills of the majority of writers would manifest themselves in abundance, leading to mass confusion about proper spelling, and ultimately a descent into spelling chaos. But will spell-checkers become so good that checkos eventually outnumber typos?