June 12, 2018
Picture the scene, folks. It’s the first rehearsal of Romeo and Juliet and William Shakespeare and his cast are at the Globe Theatre. It’s Act 2, Scene 2 and Friar Laurence crops up with “to your turn your households’ raccoon to pure love”. William yells in disbelief, as he knows that’s not the line he originally wrote – he double checks his script. He drops his script in horror, realising he is the victim of an autocorrect nightmare.
Autocorrect luckily wasn’t around when Shakespeare penned some of his most famous sonnets and plays, but it has dominated our modern day-to-day lives. For those in a rush, it can be seen as a blessing, with their smartphones and tablets coming to the aid of their slippery fingers or lack of concentration. For those with a love of the English language, it is seen as a slap in the face. Should we be so heavily reliant on a machine to tell us when we’ve misspelt a word?
Spellcheck is something that is still used today in word processing software such as Microsoft Word, but the presence of autocorrect is the updated algorithm that spellcheck possess. Rather than simply highlighting the fact that a word is misspelt, autocorrect will then try to predict what it is you are actually trying to say.
This, however, could go one or two ways. It could save you the little time it would take to manually correct the word, or it can send you down the path of fury and wrath. You see, as handy as autocorrect can be to some people, especially the elderly or the young, it is not a perfected piece of software. The problem is, it can never truly be perfected, either.
Week in, week out – the English languages continues to change and develop. Every year, new words are added to the Oxford Dictionary. In March this year, what with the rising recognition of transgender identity, several words relating to the subject were added, such as ‘transphobia’. More comical words include ‘hippotherapy’ (not what you think, it reverts to horse-riding as a course of therapy treatment).
The Oxford Dictionary is updated every quarter and we’ve had words such as ‘selfie’ and ‘bromance’ added to it recently; due to the sheer popularity of each term in society these days. It seems as if language falls into the same basket as fashion and music – whatever is gaining the most momentum at one given point in the year. Should this be the case? Certain styles and genres of music have their peaks and troughs, but when did it become acceptable to allow language to follow the same path? For something that is so universal and crucial to our everyday development, to tinker with it seems a little…well…daft!
The use of autocorrect, as aforementioned, can be seen as extremely handy to those who are learning about modern technology or those learning to speak. The young and old are trying hard to keep up with the pace of the modern world and assistance from the likes of autocorrect can be seen as a welcome helping hand.
Then you have the downside of autocorrect. One little mistake in the software’s programming can lead to domestic arguments and ruined family occasions. Such a thing even left a primary school feeling rather sheepish back in 2016!
A message was sent out to parents reminding them about a Mass service before the Easter break, including the option to have their ‘children’s dirty willies washed’. There was a gap of just six minutes before a correction text was sent out, apologising for any offence caused and corrected the glaring mistake to ‘wellies’. Quite what connection wellington boots have with a church Mass service is another matter. This is just a prime example of the risks you take when allowing autocorrect into your lives!
Grammarly and Global Auto Correct are just two examples of grammar software which are available to purchase. The idea of going out your way to buy something which will tell you when you’re using bad grammar or spelling – when Microsoft Word can do it for you for free – is bizarre to say the least.
As technology comes to the rescue and takes over our lives, is it safe to assume that the end is very much nigh? We have watches that can hold a conversation, software to correct grammar and self-operating robot pets. Who fancies hopping off this particular merry-go-round and starting civilisation over again?
Whether we agree with the concept of autocorrect or not, it’s domination in the technology market cannot go unnoticed. Aspects of the software can be a godsend, but it is still a tool that causes an array of frustration. To summarise, let’s take a look at some of the most humorous examples.
An interesting offer, indeed! On an advertisement for a hotel chain in Indonesia, the public were informed of facilities such as air conditioning and free wife. Yes, you did read that correctly. Apparently misogyny and cool temperatures go hand-in-hand over in Indonesia, which may explain their excellent ratings on Trip Advisor.
Former British cyclist Lance Armstrong dominated the headlines over his admittance to using drugs whilst competing, leading to his seven Tour de France medals being stripped from him. What was arguably even more shocking was the exclusive scoop that CBC had on Armstrong, where they looked into his use of haberdashery. That’s right, there was breaking news on Lance Armstrong’s use of rugs, which caused a massive stir amongst the sporting community. Imagine that! Lance Armstrong into his rugs!
So you see, folks, autocorrect can both humour us and frustrate us. But what is life without a little unpredictability?