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Dennis Baron's go-to site for language and technology in the news

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  • British academic acts to decriminalize bad spelling

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SamuelRiv@gmail.com Aug 8, 2008 1:11 pm

Note that the computer age requires good spelling: no longer can we rely on human "fuzzy processing" (at least not with the current state of neural net technology) when looking up a book in an analog card catalogue, but rather now we have little margin for error when parsing large volumes of text for a keyword. Google corrects my spelling mistakes pretty nicely, especially when it comes to proper names, but imagine building a RegExp parser on a home server trying to filter keywords in a world where nothing is spelled correctly!

Actually, that already happens. In the old days of the internet, servers would filter out swears, pornography, and pirated or illegal software. Hence came the intentional mispellings of 13375|>34|< (leetspeak): pr0n and warez (or zeraw) are two of the earliest examples that come to mind.

Unless you're obfuscating intentionally, then, good spelling is a must on the internet. And yes, spellcheckers are a blessing (though my Britishisms are not treated kindly, even though I think they're more aesthetic) as a means to an end.

Reply to SamuelRiv@gmail.com at 1:11 pm