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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I Luv Spelchek

Proofread carefully to see if you any words out. ~Author Unknown

I have a big secret for you, one that might blow your mind. You might want to sit down for this.

There's a big difference between proofreading and spellchecking.

This is totally crazy! My students don't believe me- they think looking for those dotted red lines really is proofreading. So much so that the following sentences were turned in on papers this semester.

Martian Luther King Jr.'s nonviolent philosophy was more effective than that of Malcolm X.

The girl's sh*t is red, the color of passion and love.

The first is from a paper I graded today. I laughed, imagining MLK Jr. as a little green man. The second mortified the student- she was quite adamant that the misspelling had been a total mistake.

Spellcheck isn't perfect, but it's great for discovering that you chronically spell hemorrhage or marriage wrong (yeah, that's me). In fact, I'm quite thankful for spellcheck because I made a pretty idiotic move two nights ago. You see, I thought I was a genius because I used word replace to change a character's nickname from "Red" to "Det." Initially I thought Red was a genius nickname for Reddedet, but the "Red said's" started to drive me nuts. So then I started to go back through some pages and saw a gazillion dotted red lines.


I forgot Word changed even the "red" inside another word- scared, marred, barred, etc. Now they read scaDet, marDet, and barDet. So now I have 40,000 words to go back through.

Yay for me. *hits self in head*

I guess the moral of the story is, spellcheck can be your friend and also your enemy.

Or your frenemy.

Photo from Daily Demotivators.


Stephanie L. McGee said...

OK, I had to reread the Martin Luther King, Jr. sentence a few times before I noticed the problem. Sigh.

Find and replace and spell checker are definitely things I have a love-hate relationship with. Sometimes more the latter than the former. (In both cases.)

Josin L. McQuein said...

I had that happen when changing a character's name from Rick. Without checking the "exact match" option for length and capitalization, my characters suddenly lived in a red bThomas house, and one was transformed into PatThomas.

Stephanie Thornton said...

Stephanie- I actually missed circling a few of them- the student wrote it pretty much throughout the essay.

Josin- Yeah, I knew about exact match and totally spaced it out. It had been a while since I'd done a word replace. Lesson learned!

chasing empty pavements said...

I am terribe at editing my work before turning it in. My teachers/professors have all told me time and time again, you're writing is brilliant, but you are terrible at puncuation, spelling and grammer. Yikes, that's not always the best thing to hear as a writer!

Not enough hours! said...

I have my pet words that I can never spell without spell check.

Why don't you search for Det (with a capital D), replace it back with Red (with a capital), and then do the find replace for spaceRed?

Lorel Clayton said...

Those are all too funny! Now I have cat orgies and Martin the Martian burned into my brain unfortunately.
You are so right: spellchecking is not proofreading.

Guinevere said...

I did that once too... I'm now very careful about that potentially dangerous Find and Replace option in Word!

Piedmont Writer said...

I've so done that. That's why it took so long to revise. UGH! I learned that lesson though. And I agree, Spellcheck doesn't catch everything.

Lola Sharp said...

Search and Replace and I have had many a battle.

Now I just do Find, and manually replace.
I hate line editing. It's painful and slow.
Frenemy indeed! :o)

Great post. Hopefully it will save someone the agony.

Happy Humpday!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Yep, I've made the same mistake with Find and Replace. I've created many unusual words that way. I'm with Lola as to how I use the Find function.

I've also had battles with spell check. It's positive words from the dictionary don't exist. We've had some heated debates because of this. Fortunately my Oxford dictionary proves it wrong almost every time.

Susan R. Mills said...

I'm sorry to laugh at your expense, but that really is funny. Spellcheck is definitely a frenemy!

Gary Corby said...

Clearly we're in psychic tune. Except I don't write as much Egyptian.

Libbie H. said...

HA!! Cat orgies!

Libbie H. said...

Proofreading is also great for discovering that you over-use certain words. I can't believe how dependent I am on the word "little." Holy cow. When I proof-read my book I think I found something like 140 uses of that word in 82,000 words!

L. T. Host said...

All I can say is, I'm glad I'm not alone.

Also-- you and Gary, too funny today.

Stephanie Thornton said...

Chasing Empty Pavements- I have some students like that myself!

Not Enough Hours- That's a good idea and probably what I should have done. But I started changing them manually. It was a good excuse to go back and look at my MS.

Lorel- I cracked up when I saw the cat orgies pic. :)

Guinevere- Yeah, now I know better.

Piedmont Writer- Spellcheck definitely doesn't catch everything. I almost zone out those red lines because there are so many Egyptian terms and names it doesn't recognize.

Lola- Yeah, that's a much better plan.

Stina- I have that same battle with spellcheck. I usually win too.

Susan- Yeah, and it doesn't even recognize frenemy as a word. Sigh.

Gary- And I don't write as much Greek!

Libbie- I have certain key words I use way too much. Slightly is a big one.

L.T.- You are definitely not alone. :)

Valerie Geary said...

Hehehehee!! I always thought sh*t should be associated with passion and love....

Bane of Anubis said...

Too awesome... I'd have given the girl an A if it had been intentional b/c that's thinking outside the box :)

Stephanie Thornton said...

Valerie- Hehe! The poor girl was mortified!

Bane- Definitely thinking outside the box!

K.M. Weiland said...

Oh dear, that's hilarious! I hardly ever even use spell check, I find it so unreliable. The little red lines are handy notifications when you're typing, but, somewhere along the way, my brain decided it just wanted to ignore them period.

Stephanie Thornton said...

K.M.- I find it handy for those words I chronically misspell and the rare one I have no idea how to spell (like hemorrhage). Other than that, I tend to ignore it too.

Cynthia Reese said...

Oh, that is just too funny! I'm a horrid speller, so I'm proof that you CAN get pubbed even if you're a horrible speller. And half the time, spell check can't even guess right about what I'm trying to spell.

Yeah, I'm THAT bad. :-)

Stephanie Thornton said...

Cynthia- That's good to know! I'm kind of a spelling fanatic- I was the super cool kid in all the spelling bees in school.

Amalia T. said...

haha! Oh, Stephanie! Replace All IS indeed a dangerous feature! I know how you feel though-- I used it to change the name of one of my characters and live in fear of coming across some weird composite name-word in my file. Thankfully, the name was not something usually found within words, so I think I kept it under control.

Martian Luther King. ha!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Ha ha ha. I love it. Poor you, though. I didn't know it would change red inside another word - what a bummer side-effect! I learned something today (again!). :-)

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Those are hilarious (and, oh so painful if you're the kid who wrote them, I'm sure). I believe there is a writer's blindness that causes us to see what we think is there sometimes, especially after we've read it a billion times.

Jemi Fraser said...

LOL :) Martian Luther King Jr! There are so many funny things on students' papers!

Stephanie Thornton said...

Amalia- You lucked out- red is EVERYWHERE. Except now it's Det. :)

Shannon- I'm glad you can learn from my mistakes!

Tricia- I totally agree- I miss a ton of stuff in my own writing. But I have a feeling most kids don't actually proofread.

Jemi- They never fail to make me laugh!

VR Barkowski said...

Oh my gosh! This made me laugh until tears rolled. Thank you, Stephanie! :D

Stephanie Thornton said...

VR- I was just telling my husband that the cat orgies made me laugh hysterically when I found it. Glad you got a giggle too!

L.T. Elliot said...

I thought that the quote was pretty brilliant. ;) And I laughed at the martian bit. =]

Dangerous With a Pen said...

LOL, too funny! :) At the beginning of each month, my class (1st grade) makes calendars of the month to take home with important dates on them. In January, they noticed "MLK Day" and one of them said, "I don't think I celebrate Milk Day." tee hee!

Just Another Sarah said...

OK, I've done this, and you can undo the spellcheck errors easily enough. If you catch it right away, usually you can undo or just reverse the process. Then, go through and hit "*space*Red" and change them all to "*space*Det". Since it's still pretty common, you might have just a few issues, and if you described anything as being red, definitely for a while it will be Det...but using *space* will save you a great deal of hurt in the end.

From my experience. :)

Terresa said...

Spell check is both a curse and a blessing, lame & laughable.

Loved this post!!

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