Could care less, irregardless (SIC) of what they think

Today, our language is taking a very interesting course. We are an “auto-correct” society. Well, you say, it’s been that way for a long time. Actually, the technology has moved us into a world of “close is good enough.” When it comes to precision in writing, we’re on autopilot.

Sure, there’s the problem with to, too and two. Sometimes the spell checker acts unwittingly, reporting “You’re good to go” when you are not. And, there are those pesky agreement errors and run-on sentences. Sometimes the computer gives us a heads up, other times not so much.

Now the computer does tell us there’s no such word as irregardless. Well, at least it underlines it and tries to warn us. But then there’s the sentence I read last week: “Honestly, I could care less about that issue.” Here is where the computer lets us down. It should be, “I could not care less about that issue.” Computer software is really advancing, but mistakes such as this are not caught by the micro-processor.

Tom Hirons, our company founder, had an exercise in his advertising class at Indiana University where copywriters could not start a sentence with “the.” Certainly this rule helps the would-be wordsmith and, again, it’s not something a computer will tell you. This is a matter of style, and our electronic friend has not been able to substitute fully for a well-informed writer.

I like this one. “Your ideas just don’t jibe with mine.” Don’t you mean jive? Nope. It’s hard when you start dealing with intransitive verbs, too. Our digital counterpart is not a verb savvy editor.

Software’s ability to assist us is only getting better. Look how far voice recognition has come. But, there’s still going to be a place for some knowledge of grammar and spelling. I admit the auto-correct function is a real help, but it’s an assist, not the final answer.

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