Saturday, December 8, 2012

Retirement Issues — Auto-Incorrect

As each year passes, my typing skills deteriorate. I’m prone to lazy pinkies, wandering ring fingers and errant middle fingers. I can’t blame my eyesight, because I touch-type most of the time. I’d like to think it’s arthritis, but more likely I’m just getting clumsier.

Suddenly I’m interacting more with the autocorrect and autocomplete functions on my computer. Unfortunately, I’m finding them sadly lacking in the accuracy department. Why is it that my computer auto-completes things I don’t need it to, and in a way that I don’t want it to? And at the same time, it fails to auto-correct my most obvious errors?

For example, when I’m keying into the URL bar in my browser, one of my lazy fingers often types three “os” instead of two. Is it asking too much for the autocorrect to change “Faceboook” into “Facebook”? Apparently so. Today I learned it’s also too demanding to have “Facenook” auto-corrected to “Facebook.”

On the other hand, unwanted autocompletes can make just enough sense to leave people scratching their heads when they mean something quite different from what was intended. I recently keyed in “Many seniors have serious health problems,” but it showed up as “Many seniors have serious health prospects.”

I caught the error, but it left me wondering what my readers would have thought I meant by “health prospect.” At worst, the phrase conjures up the specter of an infomercial for some miracle potion being hawked on retro TV. At best, it smacks of a special discount for seniors at the local Y.

In addition to my individual fingering problems, I’m prone to finger dyslexia. That is, I sometimes get letters in a word out of sequence. This can be disconcerting. One of my email messages was supposed to read: “Angry Lebanese stormed government buildings.” Imagine my surprise to see that “Angry Lesbians stormed government buildings.” Thanks to my finger dyslexia, unwanted auto-complete had struck again.

Lately I’ve noticed that my typing dyslexia has spread to my verbal communication and I’m now prone to auto-complete in my speech. Or as I like to call it, auto-incorrect. Here’s just one example.

My husband and I were discussing the current political scene. I meant to say: “One of the ways to have a successful presidency…” but it came out “One of the ways to have a successful pregnancy…” He looked at me, panic stricken, as I stood there open-mouthed, trying to spit out what I really intended to say. When I finally corrected myself and said, “I mean, presidency,” he exhaled audibly.

It seems that I often say the first syllable of a word correctly, but then my brain-to-mouth connection gets interrupted. I go through a list of commonly used words that start with the same syllable, usually silently in my head. “Prosper, prospect...”

Sometimes I do this out loud, hoping that actually hearing the second syllable will somehow make the word I’m looking for come to me more easily. More likely, the “in depth property inspection” that I’m searching for will come out “in depth prostate inspection.” Try getting that image out of your head.

These auto-incorrects can be so ridiculous that I’ve started collecting them. They’re like mixed metaphors and mangled aphorisms. My husband has always been prone to those, but he has an excuse; English was not his native tongue. “A rolling stone sweeps clean” and “He was caught between a rock and a frying pan” are two of his classics.

“Angry Lesbians storming government buildings” probably won’t stand the test of time as well as Jagdish’s colorful misspeaks. Unfortunately, the “in depth prostate inspection” will probably be burned into my psyche for quite awhile.

Damn you, auto-incorrect!

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