Home Tech Talks Insights Easy texting: Do spelling mistakes or Auto-correct turn people off?

Easy texting: Do spelling mistakes or Auto-correct turn people off?

1010-54 039 1010-54 Texting Illustration October 28, 2010 Photo Illustration by Jaren Wilkey/BYU © BYU PHOTO 2010 All Rights Reserved photo@byu.edu (801)422-7322

The evolution of the human species brings along with it the gift of industrialization, urbanization and modernization. The one significant thing that differentiates the human race from all other species is the ability to communicate using a powerful tool, language. Language has also being evolving since its inception. With the advent of technology, the use of language in our lives has changed too. We have come a long way from writing letters on paper to sending messages or ‘texting’ through hand-held electronic devices.

Technology might have contributed to linguistic errors

While technology has made communication faster and more convenient, it has also corrupted the sense of linguistic rules in individuals. As the culture of text messages, e-mails and digital messages grew, people had to reduce the number of characters used to convey a message. This was because the messages were charged according to the number of characters used in it. Hence, the word ‘your’ became ‘ur’ and ‘to’ was written as ‘2’.

As long as the message was communicated in its entirety, people did not emphasize of the correctness of the grammar or the words. As technology grew, so did the modes of digital communication. The world now enjoys the freedom to communicate using media like messaging applications, e-mails and social media platforms that do not base their tariff on the number of words or characters used in the message. On the other hand, they are free to use and are available to anyone with Internet connectivity.

However, the shorthand depictions of words and phrases that people used, has now seeped in to their regular communication techniques. The SMS-language that was initially used to communicate economically had now become the new ‘cool’ way of writing ones’ thought out. Although, some users went back to the basics of correct language and grammar usage, there were many others who compromised on the quality of their messages.

Auto-correct has often been blamed for erroneous content

Several other algorithms and techniques like auto-correct and predictive texting then came along to make digital communication even faster and more convenient. One could now type in the first three letter of a word and then choose from a list of words provided by his device to complete his sentences. Even better algorithms can also predict the entire sentence, given the context of the message and a few stub-words in the beginning. Convenient right? Not until the algorithms started correcting typographical errors for correct spellings on their own.

Auto-correct has been blamed often for erroneous texts and misinterpreted messages. There have been cases where an auto-correct suggested word has changed the meaning of the entire message altogether. These errors seem to be completely harmless unless they cause damage to the lexical or the semantic aspect of the language. However, since the human tolerance to errors is reducing with the increasing impatience and insecurity in the society, auto-correct has also done more harm than good.

Auto-correct has led to misunderstandings, miscommunication and even social and moral upheaval in some cases. ‘Damn you, auto-correct’ has now become a regular excuse for people making errors in digital communication media. While some spelling mistakes are amusing, some other typos are plain disconcerting. Auto-correct phrases are also known for taking away from the essence of the message or the text.

A Technophilia podcast in 2012, aimed to invite peoples’ opinions on Google’s self-driving cars. However, they made a small error in the post by typing in ‘cards’ instead of ‘cars’. While some people ignored the typographical error and opined as required, there were several others who boiled the healthy discussion down to the error.

Do grammatical and spelling mistakes annoy people?

It is acceptable to correct a person’s language or grammar if the error takes a toll on the meaning of the message. However, being a bully and trying to correct every other mistake in ones’ text messages or posts is an extreme act of intolerance and insecurity. A lot of ‘Grammar Nazis’ take it upon themselves to police content for grammatical and lexical errors and rectify them unabashedly.

While correcting someone’s language to help them communicate better is not wrong, bullying them and embarrassing them for the same is. This also hints at how the bullies think highly of themselves and carry a superiority-complex or a sense of pride in their linguistic skills. The act of belittling others for their grammatical errors is also linked to certain levels of anger and stress in individuals.

How does one react to bullies and ‘Grammar Nazis’?

Although there are some individuals on the digital forum who are subtle and socially responsible about their remarks, there are many others who are insensitive and insecure about the content posted online. While that cannot be changed overnight, one can always learn how to deal with such remarks. One can graciously accept the correction made and apologize light-heartedly. To accept the error and correct accordingly might even lead the bully to shift his focus on the real message.

Appreciating their act of pointing the error out might help you bridge the communication gap created by a tiny error. One could also switch the auto-correct feature off while messaging or posting content online. A 2012 survey had reported that people relying on auto-correct for their content could not spell basic words like ‘necessary’, ‘separate’ or ‘definitely’. Turning the feature off might not only help you reduce your errors but also make you lexically strong, unconsciously or consciously.

Hence, easy-texting is not a massive issue that needs immediate rectification. However, the increasing number of errors made by users of the digital media should be monitored to preserve the quality of the language. To deal with people who get annoyed at simple grammatical and spelling mistakes, one needs to be smart on the various forms of digital media. As they say, ‘to err is human,’ a little tolerance to small errors might help create a healthier environment for all the digital users.


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