About seven years ago, in March 2006, I wrote a Language Log post about "the Cupertino effect," a term to describe spellchecker-aided "miscorrections" that might turn, say, Pakistan's Muttahida Quami Movement into the Muttonhead Quail Movement. It owes its name to European Union translators who had noticed the word cooperation getting replaced with Cupertino by a spellchecker that lacked the unhyphenated form of the word in its dictionary. Since then, I've had occasion to hold forth on the Cupertino effect in various venues (OUPblog, Der Spiegel, Radiolab, the New York Times, etc.). Now, Cupertinos are getting yet another flurry of publicity, thanks to a new book by the British tech writer Tom Chatfield called Netymology.
Chatfield's book is currently only available in the UK, but he was kind enough to send me a copy and I can heartily recommend it as a whirlwind tour of the latest in digital speak. His 100 bite-sized topics cover other Language Log-friendly terrain, like snowclones, but the Cupertino effect has earned a prominent place in publicity for the book. Chatfield has discussed the Cupertino effect in pieces for the BBC and the Guardian, as well as in this video.
And no doubt thanks to this renewed attention, Cupertino effect is featured today on Paul McFedries' Wordspy site. It's defined there as "the tendency for automatic spell-checking software to replace some words with inappropriate or incorrect alternatives," and I supplied the earliest known example (mentioned in my 2006 Language Log post), from the September 2000 issue of Language Matters.
The Wordspy entry also notes the use of Cupertino as a standalone noun (to describe an instance of the phenomenon) but doesn't provide any citations for it. As far as I can recall, Cupertino was first used in this way in a Jan. 12, 2008 Language Log post by Mark Liberman, "More Campaign Cupertinos: Mike Hackable, John Moccasin, Rot Paul, Chris Dodo…" In that post, Mark quotes an email from Cody Boisclair referring to "Cupertinos," and Mark followed up with the lower-case variant "cupertinos." Prior to that, I had been using the less snappy "Cupertino-isms."
(Michael Quinion also has a good discussion of the term on World Wide Words.)