Is AutoCorrect Destroying the English Language?

You’ve seen them. Typos and strange words in the New York Times, in the Wall Street Journal, and Politico. These are all publications that should know better. Yet nonetheless, sprouting like weeds, they’re there. Sentences that have an odd ring, Word choices that don’t fit. What’s going on here?

The culprit: AutoCorrect. An invasive species, sprung from mobile, that is now, like Alabama kudzu, invading the desktop world. It’s not so much correcting misspelled words, but rather the replacement of one word with another, that makes the little guy so lethal. “Or” becomes “Our”, “Below” becomes “Belong”, “Base” becomes “Band” and so on and on and on. Whether the result is comic effect or outright misunderstanding on the part of the reader, the change happens so quickly we as the writers don’t even notice it. False analogies take hold: “tow the line” becomes “toe the line”, “flesh out the problem” becomes “flush out the problem”, and soon by their very ubiquity, a new standard emerges.

We’ve grown used to programs correcting our grammar and word choices. But now we defer, automatically, and perhaps unknowingly, to the default choices of AutoCorrect. Have we given up our own personal editor in the process? Do we simply no longer notice the attempts by technology to improve on our own better judgment? Writer, beware when the logic of AutoCorrect supersedes our own language abilities.

Sean Ketchem Avatar

About the author

I’m Sean Ketchem, living in Berlin with two passports, two cats, and a fascination for history and culture.

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