Get Me a Spelling Checker!

I used to know how to spell.

Plagiarism is not spelled plagerism. How embarrassing to have spelled it incorrectly — in the title, no less — of my previous post. I just fixed it.

Spelling checkers in word processing software have made me lazy. Why know how to spell a word when my word processor will simply underline it for me to call it to my attention if I get it wrong? Or, worse yet, simply fix it for me, as Microsoft Word often does? In exchange for convenience, just a little more of my mind is being sapped away by disuse.

WordPress, which I use to maintain this site, does not have a built-in spelling checker. That’s why you’ll see so many typos and misspelled words here. There’s no red underline to flag possible problems, so I just don’t notice them. I have, however, made a special effort to look up the spelling of words I’m not sure about (such as disuse and misspelled earlier in this entry). I do that with the Dictionary widget that’s part of Mac OS X. I leave it open and press F12 whenever I need to use it. Enter what I think is the right spelling and let Dictionary tell me if it recognizes the word. If it doesn’t, I think it out, trying to come up with the right spelling. It’s a good exercise for my brain.

The Dictionary widget is also useful when I’m reading an article online and need a word defined. Rather than try to glean meaning from use, I can just fetch the darn meaning to have a firmer grasp of the word and build my vocabulary.

If I can’t figure out a word’s spelling, I use Google. I enter my best guess at a word in Google’s search box — for example, plagerism — and Google instantly responds, “Did you mean plagiarism?” Uh, yeah. That’s what I meant.

Now at this point, Miraz, if she’s reading, is asking herself why I don’t use MarsEdit, like she does, to work with my WordPress blog. I tried it, but I wasn’t very impressed. I really don’t like using a lot of different software to complete a task. It’s more to learn. It’s more to figure out when it doesn’t work right. In my case, I couldn’t get MarsEdit to handle pictures the way I needed it to and I didn’t want to invest the time to make it work. I’ll probably use MarsEdit to do my blogging during the summer months when I’m away from a handy Internet connection most of the time.

So if you find a misspelled word in these blog entries, have patience with me. It could be my flying fingers unable to hit the keys in the right order. Or it could just be that I thought I knew how to spell the word…but was wrong.

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