I won’t tell you how many times I have to stop and think about how many bs are in Caribbean. Or where the y goes in amethyst.
Part of the problem is that I ignore a lot of my own spelling errors because I know that the frizzled red underlining means Big Brother Spell Check is waiting to jump in and make me look good.
The other part of the problem is because of how our brains work.
Kathryn Schulz, author of Being Wrong, says the brain is the original autocorrector. It takes sensory messages and alters them to what is logical for us to see, whether it’s filling in a blind spot in our vision or ignoring errors on the printed page.
The following internet classic is an example of what Schulz is proposing:
“Icdn’uolt blveiee taht I cluod aulacity uesdnathrd waht I was rdanieg: the phaonmneel pweer of the hmuan mnid.” (Big Brother SC just lurched off to a dark corner and is whimpering and sucking his thumb.)
As long as a misspelled word starts and ends with the correct letter, our brains automatically rearrange the rest of the letters to form a word that fits in the context and syntax of the other words in its sentence.
While we can override or ignore Spell Check, there’s no fool-proof way to override or ignore how our brains handle spelling mistakes. To correct our text, we need to force ourselves to look at words in a way that violates everything our brain has always done and wants to continue to do in the situation.
If I just slowly reread text I’ve written, I’ll probably publish something with an error or two in it. What helps me is to slowly reread the text aloud.
When I taught high school English, I was unaware of the Catch 22 our brains held for us, but I did know it was difficult to edit my own words. So I urged my students to correct their spelling errors and then trade their written work with another student, each underlining the other’s spelling errors.
They learned to recognize misspelled words; unfortunately, they weren’t all on the students’ own papers. But they all had an appreciation of the importance of checking and double-checking their own work, as best they could.
Source: Smart Planet Daily, August 9, 2013