What a miss: by our subs, that isLast week’s column on the double-edged nature of spell checking devices attracted plenty of comment.
Some people thought I was too soft on sub-editors. A few, including one or two sub-editors themselves, thought I was too tough on them.
The too-soft brigade probably has the upper hand, though — in the modern world, sub-editors must know to look out for the kind of contextual errors that even the most advanced spell checker software can miss.
The difference between rein and rain, or bore and boar, for example.
More than a few puns came my way and one reader even penned a spell checker-thwarting poem addressed to ‘Miss tear Con lea’. Wonderful stuff.
Others asked about the ditty I used to make my point and whether there are any more verses.
Yes, there are. It’s too long to include all of it, but here’s the first five:
Eye have a spelling chequer
It came with my Pea Sea
It plane lee marks four my revue
Miss Steaks I can knot sea
Eye strike the quays and type a whirred
And weight four it two say
Weather eye am write oar wrong
It tells me straight a weigh
Eye ran this poem threw it
Your shore real glad two no.
Its vary polished in its weigh
My chequer tolled me sew
A chequer is a bless thing
It freeze yew lodes of thyme
It helps me right all stiles of righting
And aides me when eye rime
Each frays come posed up on my screen
Eye trussed too bee a joule
The chequer pours o'er every word
Two cheque sum spelling rule
The full poem, by the way, can be found on the internet.
According to Wikipedia, it’s attributed to Dr Jerrold H Zar, assisted by Mark Eckman and is called Candidate for a Pullet Surprise (Pulitzer Prize, geddit?).
True to form, in spite of its age, the only error it throws up on my spell checker (which, admittedly, is the Windows 2003 version) is ‘cheque’ and ‘chequer’. And that’s only because the default is set to US English.
To more serious matters: thanks to Andrew Boyd in Portadown for pointing out duplication of content in two reports about Chelsea v Barcelona on April 19.
The error, I’m told, occurred in a content feed supplied to us, but it should, of course, have been spotted by the sports sub-editors, but wasn’t until after the first edition had gone to press.