Always spell-check your spell checker

A few years back, I had the privilege of interviewing a veteran who had overcome a severe case of PTSD following his military service in Iraq.

This father of five had suffered greatly, both as a driver of a Bradley fighting vehicle and after discharge in a civilian world that misunderstood his pain.

I wanted to honor him with my story, which I was writing to help raise money for the program that assisted in his recovery. Everyone who had been present for that interview was moved to tears. I wanted readers to be moved as well. So the copy had to be perfect.

Unfortunately, my computer’s spell checker had other ideas. It turned Tigris — as in Iraq’s Tigris River — into tigress. I corrected the error, but my sneaky spell checker changed it back. before I hit send.

Fortunately, I quickly realized the mistake and sent a fixed version. But I was red-faced.

The moral of the story — don’t trust spell-check, as the writer of the sign you see here must have done. My husband and I noticed it near Fort Tabor, on our New Year’s Day walk with our dog along the harbor in New Bedford. Spell-check probably insisted on it’s when it’s its the writer wanted.

Spell checkers may correct a lot of errors, but they can introduce them too, producing their when you need there, adding plural verbs where singular are required, and turning to familiar common nouns when it’s a proper noun you need.

It’s hard enough to write perfect copy. Details always matter. Don’t trust spell checkers to always get them right.


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