Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Down With Spell Check!

All right, I have had it with Spell Check. Spell Check is the enemy. Spell Check is just AWFUL.

Last Saturday night I was calmly sitting at my kitchen table reading the Sunday New York Times (note to self: get social life) and came across a line in an article which read (more or less):

Christian women have come a long way from "Wither though goest, I will go."

Wither though goest? What the FUCK is that? It's not even English. As anybody should certainly know, it's a quote from the Bible which has to do with Ruth and Naomi and a woman's duty to leave her family and take up with her husband's family, and it reads, "Whither thou goest, I will go." I realize that not everybody is familiar with the Bible (really, read it just as literature - the King James version is gorgeous), but the phrase "Whither thou goest" turns up with a fair amount of frequency. used ironically, usually, but still, one hears it. It means, roughly, wherever you're going, I'll go. What 'wither though goest" means I couldn't possibly tell you, because it makes no sense whatsoever.

Obviously, the New York Times no longer employs human proofreaders and depends on Spell Check (which is a MACHINE, people!) to do that work.

Copy editors are also out of work these days, and for evidence of this, just read anything by Dan Brown. Now, Dan Brown's books (you know, Da Vinci Code and the rest) are compulsively readable (greatest things in the world for a boring bus ride), but the man can't write his way out of a paper bag (you should pardon the cliche). A copy editor's job is to spot things that don't make sense - such as the heroine's eyes are blue in Chapter 3 and green in Chapter 6. Dan Brown's stuff is full of these wonderful bits of unintentional comedy. In one book, his heroine is running full speed down a hallway while clutching the handrail. Try it some time. Unless she's pulling it out of the wall and dragging it behind her, it can't be done. In another lovely one, the heroine turns the hero on by coming out of a hotel bathroom wearing a "form-fitting terry cloth bathrobe." A WHAT? Has anybody ever seen a form-fitting terry cloth bathrobe? Either this broad is an Ewok, or there's a form of really thin terrycloth around that I haven't heard about. But my all time favorite is a character in one of his books who is raising his arms in a victory gesture while putting on his sportcoat. I want all of you men to immediately get up and attempt to put on a jacket this way. Uh huh. I didn't think you could either.

Really, I am horrified by what goes on in books these days. Not the content, but the sheer lack of quality proofreading and copy editing. There are now mass market paperbacks costing $9.99, for God's sake, and I have not read a single new paperback book where I haven't found horrendous typos. If they're charging that much for the damn things, aren't we entitled to be able to read them without our eyes being stopped by ghastly - and very avoidable - mistakes?

Now I use Spell Check at the office, certainly, because I have a habit of typing tp for to. BUT I ALSO PROOFREAD. ProofREAD. I don't depend on Spell Check to do my editing for me, and I read through everything before it goes anywhere. Also, Spell Check won't pay any attention to anything that actually IS a word, even if it's the wrong word. So my occasional typing of the Untied States for the United States would never be caught. Nor will Spell Check find "Their is a place." Because, of course, "their" is a perfectly good word - just not at the beginning of that sentence.

Please, for the sake of my sanity - bring back human beings! And you know, once we get them back in publishing firms, wouldn't it be really, really neat to get them back at the other end of telephones, too?

Love, Wendy


SaintTigerlily said...

I don't know...I sort of look forward to the typos now. I delight in them.

Is that wrong?

Mark said...

wy would that be wrong?