Belfast Telegraph

Now we all no Pea Sea spell cheques aren’t full proof

By Paul Connolly

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.

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