navarjun

Thoughts about Autocorrect

Autocorrect, the word that didn't exist 30 years ago. Can you imagine that it meant nothing before that? And today it means so much; maybe not as much for informal conversations, but try asking anyone who deals with e-mails a lot, for instance a grad student or an instructor. Well, I am both of those. Along with that, as my girlfriend would tell you, I am a grammar freak too. It's hard to imagine a time when proof-reading was so necessary even for spelling mistakes. Today, even the most basic text editor can tell you which of your words is wrongly spelled. A more advanced one can go a level up and tell you if it should be its, it's or it is. And then even more advanced ones can check the semantics of your whole essay. So, proof-reading has been reduced to mass publishers, authors, critiques and probably book-designers.

Coming back to auto-correct, it is incredibly hard for teens of today to spell misspelled without an error. Not surprisingly, it's hard for older people, like me, too. Auto-correct in our everyday keyboards has taken over our brains. Our little brain doesn't need to worry about misspelling anymore. An email with typos is completely ok these days. Probably most people don't even notice.

Since that is taken care of, our brains can focus on more important stuff. But has the value of out everyday linguistic knowledge decreased? Like handwriting? Arguably, yes. We like to automate as many things as possibly so we can focus on better tasks, but no-one defines those "better tasks". Just like we don't remember local routes anymore, we'll probably forget the words too. Is it a great place to be?