March 22, 2012

Weekly Language Usage Tips: autocorrect & equipped/equipt and cite/site

Posted in autocorrect, cite/site, equipped/equipt at 7:48 am by dlseltzer

Tip 1: A short rant on autocorrect

This is the tip: TURN IT OFF.

I long ago turned off all of the autocorrect features in Microsoft Office. And many of you have heard me talk about how autocorrect can ruin your documents and destroy your hard work in no time. A numbered sentence becomes an unwanted list. An intentionally lower-case word in a table is suddenly capitalized. Autocorrect inserts itself where it is not wanted or needed. It’s a nightmare!

Well, I found something just as bad or maybe worse. Now, I love all things Apple, and I am loath to complain about anything Apple—see how I sneaked in ‘loath,’ the subject of a recent wlut—but I have to be honest about this: their autocorrect feature which appeared in a recent Macintosh operating system and in the mobile apps iOS for iPhones and iPads is a disaster, too. Especially for someone like me who is not really a touch typist. Since I am looking at the keyboard much of the time, I don’t see what is going on in the screen, the autocorrect feature—and it’s really not a feature—is playing havoc with my documents. It happily (I assume) changes words it does not recognize in emails and other documents, and unless you proof really carefully—and seriously, how carefully do we proof emails (I do, now)—you will send out mail with very goofy errors. This explains why a recent ‘funding opp’ (opp is short for opportunity) became a ‘funding pop.’  ‘Planning’ became ‘pollen’ in a recent email, ‘first’ became ‘fist,’  and ‘school’ became ‘such.’ At least it is whimsical. For me, the final straw came when someone asked me about the ‘nicest’ way to format something, and I evidently responded that the ‘iciest’ way to format it was to… I was tired of writing emails to folks explaining that I…uh…meant ‘talk’ and not ‘tack’ in that last email. Sorry about that, it should have been ‘paper’ not ‘pauper.’ Autocorrect is off now—on all my devices. And I have such a feeling of relief.

I suppose I should be grateful, I now have the habit of proofing my emails carefully before I send them. I guess I owe that to autocorrect. But that’s about it. I wanted to like it; I wanted to use it; I wanted Apple to excel where Microsoft had so miserably failed. But it was not to be. So now, it’s just me and my keyboard. I think we’ll be a lot happier that way.

Tip 2: Short takes: equipped or equipt & cite or site

Short takes: these are things I wanted to mention, but I don’t have very much to say about them. Here are a couple.

I was reading a proposal recently (what else is new), and I came across this:

We bring to this effort a fully-equipt laboratory…

Oh dear.

What the writer intended to say was this:

We bring to this effort a fully-equipped laboratory…

Equipt is archaic. Really archaic. It has not been in common usage since early in the eighteenth century. That’s the 1700s, folks. Really archaic.

And that’s really all I have to say on equipped.

I also saw, on one of my email lists, this:

I can’t site the source but…

Now, if the person who wrote this was using an Apple mobile device that had autocorrect turned on, then I want to say that I totally feel your pain, and I know it’s not your fault. However, if this is not the case, then I will say this:

Site is a noun that means place or location. It can also be a verb meaning to situate. Cite is a verb that means to quote or to mention. The writer (or autocorrect victim) really should have said this:

I can’t cite the source but…

And that’s it for today’s short takes.

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