Home September 2018 WHEN WRITE IS WRONG


Word IDEA on old wooden table.IF YOU’RE LOOKING for Autocorrect, he is indisposed. I arranged to have him put out of my misery. Not permanently – I’m not the violent sort. But he is safely confined to a place where he cannot wreak his mischief on my writings or yours.

Since I bought my smart phone, I’ve gotten pretty good at writing composition-quality emails that look like the old-style business letters we had to practice in 8th grade—as though the typical 13-year-old has a need to write a formal business letter.

Unless they’re intentionally folksy, my phone-generated emails are grammatically correct: My spelling is near perfect. My paragraphs are mostly logical. I often aim my vocabulary at readers who are smarter than fifth-graders.

But, all the while, Autocorrect has tried to make a fool of me. Whenever I thumb-type a word that he does not like, Autocorrect “suggests” (read “inserts”) his preference into the text. One false move on my part, and I could incorporate Autocorrect’s suggestions, no matter how nonsensical.

If I’m too hurried to proofread before I hit “send,” then I have to send a follow-up apology email to the recipient and hope that Autocorrect didn’t get a second crack. And, really—how lame does it look when a grown person blames Autocorrect? It’s the adult version of the “dog ate my homework” excuse, only far more pathetic than when originally offered in elementary school.

For months, I patiently put up with Autocorrect’s unrelenting helpfulness that promised to alienate everyone in my personal and professional ambit.   Or, as Autocorrect preferred, my personal and professional armpit.

I would type. Autocorrect would “suggest.” I would delete Autocorrect’s suggestion and retype MY word.

This verbal tug of war, repeated throughout my documents, would add as much as 25% to the total composition time. I usually proofread before hitting “send,” so I won’t blame Autocorrect for the time that he didn’t cause. It’s only right to be fair to Autocorrect even though he is not a person.

I finally got fed up today. I typed the following:

“Dear Yolanda,

I want to express my profound thanks to you and Herb for the gorgeous flowers you sent while I was recovering from my recent operation. Your thoughtfulness touched my heart. I hope we will be able to see you in the near future.”

Autocorrect suggested,

“Dear Yiddish,

I want to expel my pro forma thanks to you and herbal for the gargoyle fluids you sent while I was recovering from my racial opera. Your thoughtfulness torched my house. I hope we will be ablaze to see you in the new factory.”

Okay, I’m over it, now. Autocorrect is a free, well, whatever he—or it—is. Back to the extra 25%.
Ellen Fischer, a retired fraud investigator, is married to Rabbi Dov Fischer.


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