Check it out

While appreciating your correspondent Rosalin Barker's indignation at the suggestion that she should not depend on her word-processor's spell checker (Letters, 25 March), I am concerned that anyone should credit it with the literacy she perceives as being attributable only to a "private secretary" or a "qualified typist".

It should be borne in mind that a computer can only recognise words which exist in the language. A computer is incapable of discern-ing meanings and hence cannot discriminate between "practice" and "practise", "accept" and "except", or notice typing (as opposed to spelling) mistakes, provided they still result in proper words.

While not disputing the entertainment value of my WPC's gamely offering "Masochists" in place of "Massachusetts", and similar helpful suggestions, I despaired in disgust when I discovered it was itself so flawed as to misspell "focusing" and "focuses" with two s's.

I, therefore, wholeheartedly defend your correspondent Peter Calviou, who suggested that any literate person would only regard computer spell checkers as a source of amusement. Uncertain spellers are better advised to rely on a dictionary.

brenda young

London NW7