I recently blogged a thought or two on what I call WYTAWYG (What You Type Ain’t What You Get) and the role of the well-intentioned, but far from perfect, spell-checker.
This prompted me to ponder a small literary mystery: why haven’t J K Rowling or Terry Pratchett (as far as I know) thought of providing the wizards of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry or Discworld’s Unseen University with the invaluable services of exactly that - a Spell-Checker?
It seems to me, that the teaching staff overseen respectively by Professor Dumbledore and Archchancellor Mustrum Ridcully could make profitable use of the services of such a functionary.
Essentially, the chief role of the Spell-Checker would be to ensure that spells were properly formulated before being ‘cast’:
“No, no, no! It’s ‘Eye of NEWT and toe of FROG’! It never works the other way around!”
However, the Spell-Checker might also be given discretionary powers of censorship in order to restrain any over-zealous wizards from spell-making that could cause unnecessary mayhem:
“Enough! This is nowhere near serious enough a situation for the use of a word like ‘Abba-Dabba-Ooga-Booga-Hoojee-Goojee-Yabba-Dabba-Doo’! You can have ‘Abbadazoola’ but NOTHING STRONGER!”
But I digress…
My real reason for returning to this subject was to note that the rewrite offered me by my computer's spell-check in place of “Call me Ishmael” is, perhaps, more widely known than I had supposed.
In fact, I’ve just discovered that cartoonist, Craig Swanson, made it the subject of one of his drawings - five years ago!
So, if you’re in need of a wry smile or two, take a browse through the very entertaining Notebooks of Craig Swanson at Perspicuity.
Meanwhile, Ms Rowling and Mr Pratchett: let me know which of you wants to use the Spell-Checker in your books and we’ll talk terms…
[Magic image: Puzuzu]