Poor spelling of 'auto-correct generation' revealed

Keyboard Two-thirds of people said they used spellcheckers

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Spellcheckers and other technology have created an "auto-correct generation" unable to spell many common words, a survey suggests.

The poll of more than 2,000 adults for learning disability charity Mencap claims a third could not spell the word "definitely".

Some two-thirds picked a wrong spelling for "necessary".

And 96% said spelling was important, but two-thirds use spellcheckers all or most of the time.

Fewer than one in 10 (9%) said they never use a spellcheck.

'False impression'

The survey was commissioned to mark Mencap's Spellathon Championships which take place this week.

Mencap chief executive Mark Goldring said: "With over two-thirds of Britons now having to rely on spellcheck, we are heading towards an auto-correct generation.

"This survey has highlighted that many Britons have a false impression about their spelling ability.

"Today's tough economic climate means that poor spelling on a CV is fatal, as it says that an individual cannot produce work to a given standard, no matter how highly qualified they might be.

"Language used by a company or person is a reflection of their attitude, capabilities and skill."

Ian McNeilly, director of the National Association for the Teaching of English, said: "I think it's an easy, knee-jerk reaction - though an entirely understandable one - to blame technology for perceived declines in a whole variety of areas.

"This probably doesn't do justice to the subtleties at play.

"In saying that, if people are blindly writing things and expecting automated programs to address all of their inaccurate spellings, that's a concern - because they won't. It's the linguistic equivalent of indiscriminate sat nav users driving into canals."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 141.

    I always ensure I correct as I go along but do run the spellcheck at the end on both documents and email. I often disagree with the spell and grammar check as it throws up some nonsensical alternatives to something that is often correct in the first place. This is sometimes because ICT staff do not bother to configure the windows dictionaries to UK English when setting the machines up.

  • rate this

    Comment number 139.

    Like calculators, spell checkers are fine but it is maddening to read something that doesn't make sense because it has not been proof read properly! That would highlight many a hideous slip up. It's only a useful tool not a replacement for (at least roughly) knowing how to spell the CORRECT version of the word you want.

  • rate this

    Comment number 133.

    It's a result of spelling being dismissed as unimportant by trendy educationalists throughout much of the last three decades. Lack of spelling skill is a real disadvantage when it comes to employment prospects, and electronic spell-checkers can't always help. They can't identify mis-spelt words which are themselves valid words (e.g. 'coarse' instead of 'course'). Bring back proper education!

  • rate this

    Comment number 124.

    As an employer who would receive an average of more than one handwritten application form every working day, those with poor spellings and/or bad grammar went no further. Simple as that.
    'Correct all' in spellchecker, once used by a lazy employee in an important e-mail to a prospective client changed the abbreviated name of the company to 'bum.' We didn't get the business!

  • rate this

    Comment number 119.

    Maybe I am not normal, but I usually learn to spell better by seeing the spell checker correct me and get it right the next time.

    Regardless, for most other problems, if people find something hard, we make it easier. Put in slops for wheelchairs and gates for fences. I don't see the problem with spellcheckers doing the same. We could also change all words to use phonetic spelling.


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