[Typ-Oh No] or [#DamnYouAutoCorrect]

Freya Sanders 14 May 2014

In last night’s Footlights Smoker, a member of the troupe joked about autocorrect’s insistence on substituting ‘mmm’ with ‘Mum’. This, the audience heard, can be particularly problematic in exchanges with lovers, leading to the delivery of embarrassing texts such as, “Mum, I want you so bad”.

It just goes to show, even the best and brightest are plagued by the menace that is autocorrect, tripped up by typos, and muted by mispronunciation. As Will Amor wrote last week: To Err is to be Hmuan; the image below, taken from the 'Wicked Bible' shows that typos are a tale as old as time. Additionally the image at the very top of this article is less than 30 minutes old at time of writing and shortened our Editor's life expectancy by several years.


Typos: a tale as old as time                                                                                                         Credit: Brett Jordan

But we think that mistakes should therefore be embraced for their comedic value rather than awkwardly skirted around; they should also be shamelessly shared in the name of student journalism – a challenge heartily accepted by the TCS team. Here are some of the gems we’ve experienced.

– In an essay about Ovid’s influence of Shakespeare’s narrative poems, MacBook corrected all instances of ‘Ovidian’ to ‘Ovarian’. The best incidence was perhaps: “The Ovarian text dwells on Lucrece’s hysteria.; her femininity is also emphasised.

– On a night out, after a few drinks, I texted my mother asking, or so I thought, that she pick me up at the end of the night. It soon became apparent that I had in fact sent her a message which read ‘Can you feel me up later?’ Horrified, I attempted to correct the mistake, but managed the perhaps even less acceptable ‘Sorry, meant can you lick me up?

– The other day I was revising Biblical allusions to the ‘Song of Songs’ in Renaissance religious poetry and discovered references to the ‘Dong of Dongs’.

– In an essay on Webster’s ‘The White Devil’, all references to the character Flamineo were autocorrected to ‘Flamingo’, e.g. ‘Flamingo is adept in the art of psychological manipulation, exacting almost erotic pleasure from tormenting his sister’.

– After a supervision in which we discussed the reproduction of physalis – a small orange fruit also known as a cape gooseberry – my supervision partner turned to me to say, “You know you said syphilis at least four times, when you almost definitely meant physalis. I hope.


A cape goosberry: decidedly not an STD                                                                      Credit: Tekke

– In an essay on Shakespeare’s Henry IV, dramatised in the BBC’s ‘The Hollow Crown’, I referred several times to ‘Hiddleston’ – the beautiful actor who plays the prince in aforementioned adaptation – rather than ‘Hal’ – the name of that prince.

– While messaging my boyfriend, a sentimental attempt to write 'I love you so much' unfortunately became 'I love you so Muhammad'. Much confusion and fervent reassurances that I was not, in fact, conducting a secret affair ensued.

– In an email from a supervisor: ‘See you and lusts on Monday’. Apparenly iPhone autocorrect can’t handle the name ‘Laura’.

– A cliché, perhaps, but negligence towards the crucial ‘l’ in public can be disastrous. The worst moment this could possibly occur is in your personal statement. Especially if you’re applying for public, or indeed pubic, relations.

– Similarly, neglecting the 'f' in the phrase 'paradigm shift' can cause a great deal of confusion.

Posthumus is one of those names that you can read but you can’t say. I proudly ploughed my way – twice – through Cymbeline over the vac,  only to give an impression of utter ignorance in my first ever supervision on it, by calling the main male protagonist ‘Post-houmous’. As in, tasty Middle Eastern dip getting sent through the Royal Mail. Not my finest hour.

– In a linguistics essay, referring to a ‘pornoun’ instead of a ‘pronoun’. Even more disturbing was my supervisor’s comment: “I’d love to know more about this type of noun”.

– Perhaps most ironically of all, after a pretty average autocorrect fail, I tried to type DYAC (as in, Damn You AutoCorrect); autocorrect replaced it with, simply, DUCK

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