I used to be a wonderful speller. I understood the rules and the exceptions to the rules. I knew about roots and etymology. I could spell proper names, foreign words and just about anything else. However, after more than a decade of using Spell Check, I have trouble spelling anything and everything. I mean that literally; I have trouble spelling the words “anything” and “everything.” Spell Check has affected my spelling skills in the same way speed dialing affected my ability to remember phone numbers and GPS systems affected my being able to find my way around. It’s nice to be able to cut down on the clutter in your brain by turning such tasks over to technology; however, you then become a prisoner of that technology, unable to remember things that would ordinarily pose no problem. Without a computer or a cell phone or a GPS device, I can’t spell, I can’t call anyone and I can’t find anything.
There are additional problems when you allow a machine to do your spelling work. For one thing, it doesn’t notice if you use a wrong word if that word actually exists. Did you type “me” instead of “my?” “There” instead of “their?” Spell Check doesn’t much care. You also have to be careful about the list of alternative words most Spell Check systems offer. When checking a document or an email, it’s easy to accidentally substitute an inappropriate word. I once emailed a friend in Honolulu and used the Hawaiian word for “thank you” (Mahalo). Spell Check didn’t recognize the word and offered “Maalox” as an alternative. That would have changed the message’s meaning in a number of strange ways.
Happily, Ricochet is set up in way that allows spelling to be checked (with the same shortcomings of other such systems). So if there are any spelling problems in this little essay, don’t go blaming my!