Scribbler’s Saga #31 – Training Your Autocorrect

Posted: May 4, 2017 in Uncategorized

© 2017 G.N. Jacobs

Themyscira. I had to look up how to spell Wonder Woman’s home because I sometimes transposed the Y and I. Mostly, my reverence for Diana Prince suggests I really need Themyscira programmed into my iPhone. As you will see from the accompanying picture I discovered that it usually takes four repetitions of a completely new word to tell your device to thoughtfully provide the word as one of your three options.

And it being a slow news day I got to thinking about the words we use over and over doing our thing as writers. Words that are for the most part are safely ensconced in HAL-phone’s autocorrect feature. And to speculate about how this feature works.

Another word that I bitch-slapped into both versions of my iOS autocorrect: Gröpen. Anyone reading my Facebook posts pretty much knows I didn’t vote for a certain orange president. Allegedly, due to the constant and tiresome repetition of the latest assclownery, I have retrenched from bashing Cheeto-lini (ask me in 2020 if I was successful in restraining my social media to the acceptable classes of post: here’s my link, funny video Man and teasing a friend). Somewhere along the line I fell into the verbal habit of replacing his proper name with Der Gröpen Führer.

Naturally, HAL-phone has Gröpen plugged into the autocorrect helpfully anticipating that I want to bash said Orange Peel Man one more time. Führer. However, for some reason autocorrect doesn’t seem to want to plug in führer, neither in the normal upper case proper noun usage or the lowercase noun loanword from German. Fuhrer. Fuhrer. Nope, autocorrect isn’t spitting up any version of this ugly word that used to just mean leader without watching people’s faces cringe with bad memories now seventy years removed from direct relevance, but still scares children.

Possibly, Apple is doing what they can to keep me, a hopefully valued customer, from getting fucked when the mostly leftist and centrist forces of The Anybody but Der Gröpen Führer Camp regains a congressional majority. I’ll take my chances on satirical and derisive context. However, Apple also probably wants to avoid a lawsuit.

Writing purists frequently piss into the wind about “don’t trust your spellcheck, autocorrect to do everything.” If you’re talking about the last draft before Print (Post actually, I did sort of move into the 21st Century while I wasn’t looking), this is my Agree Face. We call this Proofreading, Ducky. But, given that I write this with headphones in doing the delicate toe dance between focusing my words and justly going deaf as legitimate battle scars while finger tapping on a five-inch phone, nearly the slowest way to do this job, I figure some accommodation with HAL-phone’s autocorrect defines inevitable.

Many of the commonly used big words in this piece pop up on a Tap Four Letters and Choose basis. Autocorrect comes up after five letters because the Auto prefix gets used all over the A-section of our dictionary. But, repetition tends to teach the device to get better guessing which words I actually (three letters) use.

What I can’t fully grok (Gröpen just showed up) is how the autocorrect decides in which of the three cells, Left, Middle, Right, my desired word will appear. Sometimes it seems that the Left cell represents the word as exactly as I tapped it, but after that I don’t know the criteria for Middle or Right cell placement. Don’t really care once I put this post to bed.

Autocorrect also tries to be helpful guessing usage involving apostrophes and plurals. Something about the interplay of font, writing app and whatever tends to suggest that autocorrect will give straight up and down apostrophes and quote marks, when the same Word font on a regular computer automatically gives you the font specific curved marks automatically. When I use this same app (Mobile iOS Word) on my iPad with a Bluetooth keyboard, proper punctuation is automatic, so just a quirk of finger tapping. However, this is reversed on Final Draft Mobile where iPad typing gives straight marks, but tapping on this phone allows you to hold the button down and choose the font specific punctuation just like with Word.

Okay, so I’ve gone around in circles highlighting the quirks about how my autocorrect (three letters, repetition) works. At this point I just want to type rude and other odd words specific to my writing. An adventure…

Lightsaber (five letters). Yeah, I’ve already trained HAL-phone on this one. Skywalker (three letters). Same thing. Darth (two letters, right cell). Hydrolysis (six letters, right cell). Assclown (two letters, but it comes up for the more common asshole).

Batman (three letters, middle cell). Green Lantern (four letters on Lantern, helpfully capitalized). Now for the killer from DC, Mr. Mxyzptlk, Mr. Mxyzptlk, Mr. Mxyzptlk, Mr. Mxyzptlk, Mr. Mxyzptlk…okay, perhaps the intentionally unspeakable name for DC’s trickster imp is equally impossible for autocorrect. If I’d said his name out loud, I’d be really screwed, a race between Beetlejuice and him arriving first. Maybe, I could sic these comes when called characters on each other and slip out for beer?

Shit (didn’t want to come up). Fuck (finally got fuhrer in the middle cell). Dick (no). Piss (no). Okay, time to wrap this up; I don’t have Tourette’s (autocorrect overridden to edit out the straight apostrophe). I don’t get to spew out lots of dirty words beyond their sell by date and pretend to be professional.

So do you feel improved as a writer dorking around with my autocorrect? I told you it was a slow news day.

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