AAARGGGHHH!--Google and spelling

victor steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Fri Apr 9 20:20:26 UTC 2010

Well, it's official. Google is now a formal authority on spelling. And
I don't mean that you can use Google to find dictionaries. No! We are
now suppose to use the search suggestions that Google so helpfully
provides as a spelling guide. If a misspelling or the wrong word gets
more hits on Google than the one you are looking for--you're shit out
of luck.
10 Simple Google Search Tricks
Published: April 2, 2010

> 2. Use Google as a spelling aid. As Rob Hacker — the WWD reader I profiled last week — pointed out, entering a word into Google is a quick way to see if you have the right spelling. If it’s incorrect, Google will suggest the correct spelling instead. Additionally, if you want to get a definition of a word, you can use the “define:” operator to return definitions from various dictionaries (for example, define: parasympathetic).

The "define" feature is useful, but I rely on a lot more
(as well as the OED now, when I have my library card--onelook and
google you can use anywhere). But spelling? A simple example--try to
type "gigaohm" into the search field. Stopping at "giga" is kind of
pointless--too many options to be useful. But once you type in the
"o", you are in trouble. The first hit that comes up in suggestions is
"GigaOM"--the site with which the author is affiliated. If you are
looking for the resistance unit, you really have to know that there is
an "h" in it, or you'll be stuck with a misspelling. To make matters
worse, this is not a word in Windows and Mac dictionaries that give
you the red underline when you mistype something in most computer
applications these days (in other words, "gigaohm" is underlined as a
potential misspelling). It doesn't take long to come up with more
examples, but, I hope, even one is enough.

Why do I bring this up now? It's not like this is a new issue. Well,
the Mackie article is at the top of Most Popular/Email list on NYT. At
least, it's not on the list for most blogged and most viewed. But,
remember, technology is your friend!

I have not been a prescriptivist since high school, but I also don't
believe in spelling-by-popular-acclamation.


The American Dialect Society -

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