Today the autocorrect function is taken for granted. It is present in every mobile phone, tablet, computer and other devices and no one even questions that. In fact, it is definitely a must-have considering the modern pace of life and the circumstances of typing some texts. People type always and everywhere, so they can simply put their finger on the wrong letter. However, it is not the only reason for the usefulness of autocorrect. It is also very likely that some people do not know how to spell some words, and this is a vicious cycle: autocorrect helps people to write correctly so people do not see the point of learning the spelling and rely on the software more and more. This is a real phenomenon in today’s world so let’s find out more about it.
A Bit of History
The name to be known here is Dean Hachamovitch, who worked in the Word department of Microsoft. He is the person to have realized that the glossary that Word has can be used to correct typing mistakes. As a signal for corrections, he first used the F3 button and left arrow but later he changed that to the spacebar since this is the button to use after every word. At its early stages, the autocorrect software was programmed to correct the most common spelling mistakes and the caps lock misuse but there were still a lot of complex and ambiguous situations which had to be solved manually. Today the autocorrect can notice homonymic phrases, like “their was” and “there was”, change abbreviations to the full phrases, and it can even be “contextual”, in other words, it realizes the language you use with some people and offer certain words. Nevertheless, there are still many wrong corrections and tons of bad and funny examples of that.
“Damn You Autocorrect”
Every person who has a modern gadget has definitely encountered a situation when their message contained a wrong auto-correction. Sometimes it is obvious or non-essential but there are also many ridiculous cases. Specifically for such cases, there was created a website “Damn You Autocorrect”. Everyone could add their embarrassing examples to that website but now it is out of use, unfortunately. However, we can still use the software for fun, just like Dean Hachamovitch did when he programmed his boss’s computer to change his name “Dean” to his colleague’s name “Mike” and vice versa.
There also was an interesting situation with the curse words. Microsoft couldn’t offer its users the correct versions of curses due to obvious moral reasons so a solution was found. Wrongly spelled obscenities are underlined as incorrect but no replacing options are suggested.
Personally, as a linguist, I am seriously concerned about people having autocorrect everywhere. In my opinion, it kills literacy, especially among modern children. It is not necessary anymore to remember the right spelling because your phone knows it. Sometimes it is really useful with difficult words and I usually pay attention if I have mistaken and try to remember it but not everybody does that. So, unfortunately, it is an endless circle: the more people use autocorrect, the more they need it.
In general, the introduction of autocorrect has definitely enhanced and simplified written communication on technological devices and it is a great step forward but the possible consequences are not promising and a bit frustrating for me.