Rhodri Marsden: How does the internet encourage bad spelling ?

Cyberclinic

I'm a bit of a spelling fascist, but still have blind spots over words like "privilege" or "separate" that cause me grief and shame; indeed, an inability to reliably spell words like "embarrassment" has long been a source of embarrassment to the English-speaking world. The Spelling Society reckons it's nothing short of a curse, and one that's not even our fault; it stems from a mass of illogical inconsistencies that were firmly cemented by Dr Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language in 1755 and have left us floundering ever since. But the internet's unfettered explosion of self-expression offer no brownie points for good spelling, and our wrists don't get slapped if we get words wrong. Far from it. And as a result, our spelling is getting worse – or, if you happen to be championing a revised, simplified phonetic system that, say, Hungarians already enjoy, our spelling's getting better. But it's certainly changing.

If this situation wasn't already made evident by the glorious misspelling of "atmosphere" as "apmaspier" by one notable YouTube commenter, Gadgethelpline.com offers slightly more convincing proof. A member of their staff noticed that 28 per cent of 18- to 21-year-olds using the site were spelling "gadget" without the "d" (as opposed to a mere 3 per cent of 30- to 50-year-olds). So they decided to register the domains Gagethelpline.com, Gagithelpline.com, and, just to be on the safe side, Gajithelpline.com; you may well wince as you read that, but the subsequent fortnight brought the website a 5 per cent upswing in new registrations.

Normally I'd side with indignant linguists who insist that something must be done about this appalling situation, but pandering to poor spelling is undoubtedly more profitable than teaching people to spell properly. Google Suggest, a service which automatically kicks in when you incorrectly spell a search term, is such a reliable safety net that I even use it as a dictionary. The free-to-use OpenDNS will gently guide you to, say, Independent.co.uk if you type in Inpendent.co.uk. And a notable precedent was set in the USA two weeks ago when a court ruled that 1,017 misspellings of the domain "Freecreditreport.com" rightfully belonged to the owners of that website, and that they should be confiscated from the "typosquatters" who registered them. In short, if you're a business, there's little point in punishing people who can't spell, because their money is worth just as much as anyone else's. It pains me to say it, but it's even conceivable that the posts on the website at Englishfailblog.com might even stop being funny at some point in the distant future. Can you imagine?





Email any technology gripes to cyberclinic@independent.co.uk

News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
news
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

    £35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

    Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

    £28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

    Ashdown Group: Linux Administrator - London - £50,000

    £45000 - £50000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrator ...

    Ashdown Group: Business Intelligence Analyst - London - £45,000

    £40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: SQL Server Reporting Analyst (Busine...

    Day In a Page

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower