Research finds spelling ability damaged by spell-checkers

Posted on June 19, 2012

 

A recent study, conducted by Mencap, appears to show that our use of spell-checkers is having a damaging effect on ability to spell.

The study, which asked people to select correct spellings from lists of words, identified several common words that people were unable to spell – 31 per cent of the respondents couldn’t spell “definitely”, and the most common mistake was to choose “definately” instead. People also had difficulty with “necessary” and “separate”.

The study found that poor spelling was especially rife in younger people, with men in the 18-24 category giving the worst performance. The most accurate responses were from women over 65. The difference in results between older and younger people could be due to a generational difference in use of technology. Many people now rely on spell-checkers and predictive text for spelling.

Mencap has highlighted the problems posed for job applicants who are unable to spell. With a very competitive job market, accuracy is more important than ever on C.V.s and job applications. Spelling is also vital in business, as skills such as website copywriting are becoming more and more important. The services of copywriters are in demand as companies strive to get it right.

One major issue with spell-checkers is that they’re not 100 per cent reliable. They will spot an obvious error like “definately”, but they won’t always pick up errors such as using the wrong word, where two words are very similar. Technology is no substitute for the human eye in being able to spell and notice these mistakes.

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