Mobile Devices and Spelling

Just a few days after the school shooting in Ohio, someone at a school in Georgia reported a shooting threat that caused that school to be locked down for several hours.

Here’s the threat as it was reported to the authorities:

Gunman be at west hall today.

Here’s the message typed by the sender:

Gunna be at west hall today.

The mobile device knew that gunna wasn’t an English word so it changed it to gunman.

Some time ago, I read that a man in England shot and killed a neighbor after receiving a text in which the SpellingSuggester had changed a friendly expression to a disparaging one.

My frustration with the helpful changes offered on my iPhone when I’m writing an email grew to such a pitch that I disabled the function. In my view, I’m better off misspelling a word than sending an insult or a threat.

Now that the schools are throwing cursive writing out the door, perhaps they could replace it with unassisted keyboard spelling. At the same time it would be nice if they could re-institute basic English spelling so that students might learn to spell such phrases as “going to.”

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