The occasional ramblings of a freelance lexicographer

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Google search spellcheck

As I've admitted before, my spelling's not great. I generally know when I can't spell a word though, so I check it before committing it to print and with a whole shelf of dictionaries within reach of my desk there's really no excuse. Recently though, I've noticed that I'm increasingly just starting to type a word I'm unsure about into the Google search box at the top of my browser and waiting for it to come up with suggestions. It's a technique I started using mainly to check the spellings of proper nouns (names of people and places or foreign dishes - does moussaka usually have one s or two?), but I've found that I'm now using it more and more, especially if I'm on my laptop away from my desk.

The lexicographer in me wants to object that it's not a reliable or authoritative source, but then arguably, that's not always what you need. For many words, I recognise the correct spelling when I see it, it's just a quick double check when I'm having a bit of a mental blank. And after all dictionary work is all about frequency-based corpus research and what's Google if it's not a massive corpus.

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