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Monday, September 24, 2012

Are spellcheckers making invalid spelling suggestions? E.g. spell check for spellcheck.

A flaw of nearly all modern programs which include a spellchecker, including Firefox, Google Chrome,, Microsoft Office and others, is if they don’t know a word they’ll make suggestions by splitting the word into two words.

For me the most obvious example of this I see regularly on the internet is the word “spellcheck”. If you type “spellcheck” into almost any program which includes a spellchecker you’ll get a number of suggestions. One of the suggestions is “spell check” and thus a very large number of people incorrectly end up using the words “spell check” in their document.

As far as I can determine for America (using the Merriam-Webster online dictionary), the word is hyphenated as in “spell-check”. For Australia the word “spellcheck” is valid and is a backformation from spellchecker, according to the Fifth Edition of the Macquarie Dictionary. The word “spellcheck” is also documented in The Australian Oxford Dictionary, Second Edition.

The preferred Australian English dictionary I’ve created (and still working on) includes the correct spelling “spellcheck”. If you are not sure if you are using the correct spelling, or the preferred Australian English spelling of a word, check the word using Word Check.

A feature of Word Check is you can check the meaning of words using the online Oxford Dictionary (there is no free online Australian English dictionary which provides the meaning of words). In this case when checking “spellcheck” using the online Oxford Dictionary, which provides British + World English and US English, the information returned for US English I’d suggest is not correct. As mentioned above, in US English the word is hyphenated whilst the online Oxford Dictionary suggests it should be a single word.

Kelvin Eldridge
Creator of the preferred Australian English dictionary.

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