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Cupertinos in the spotlight

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 […]

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Tasty cupertinos

A correction from The New York Times on Damon Darlin's article, "Economic Theory Plots a Course for Good Food" (4/10/12 online, p. D3 in the 4/11/12 print edition): This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: Correction: April 10, 2012 An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to the Ethiopian dish doro […]

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Cell phone cupertinos

Reader JH's wife texted from the playground She's so tired though… may come home Zionist This was not an example of the role of fatigue in political identity formation, but rather a cupertino, created when her iPhone helpfully corrected (some spelling of) "soonest" to "Zionist". SMS messaging and cellphone email must be a rich source […]

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New frontiers in dataset corruption

In a comment on yesterday's "Software testing day" post, ernie in berkeley offered a nice "QA Engineer walks into a bar" joke, and pointed us to its origin in an old xkcd comic "Exploits of a Mom": …which in turn reminded me of an old problem, discussed in "Excel invents genes", 8/26/2016:

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When the White House issued a statement that finally condemned white supremacists for the violence in Charlottesville this weekend, the version that was originally released had an unusual typo: "nephew-nazi" for "neo-Nazi": The president said very strongly in his statement yesterday that he condemns all forms of violence, bigotry, and hatred and of course that […]

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The second life of a Language Log comment

More than four years ago, on Aug. 23, 2010, Doctor Science left the following comment on a post by Mark Liberman, "Cell phone cupertinos": I'm pretty sure I saw something several years ago about a whole dialect (argot? jargon? slang?) that had developed among young people in Japan (or possibly some other Asian country), based […]

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Oops: a listening guide

The latest installment of WNYC's show Radiolab is entitled "Oops," and it's about how we so often get tripped up by the unintended consequences of our actions. Hosts Robert Krulwich and Jad Abumrad brought me in to the studio to share some classic word-processing Oops-es. I talk about various search-and-replace howlers, including the spellchecker-aided miscorrections […]

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Gelatinizing the problem

Working on a paper today, my partner Barbara found that Microsoft Word objected to her use of the word relativizing as nonexistent or misspelled, and suggested firmly that she should change it to the most plausible nearly similar word: gelatinizing. But she is wise to the extraordinarily bad advice Word gives on spelling and grammar, […]

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Cupertino Creep hits DC GOP

When I was interviewed for Spiegel Online earlier this week about the dastardly Cupertino effect, I was asked if I thought spellchecker-enabled miscorrections would eventually vanish as spellchecking technology becomes more accurate in predicting potential errors. I said I thought Cupertinos would continue to be with us in one form or another, in large part […]

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Der Cupertino-Effekt

Spiegel Online, Germany's biggest news website and a sister publication of the weekly Der Spiegel, has just run an article on one of our favorite topics: the Cupertino effect, the phenomenon whereby automated spellcheckers miscorrect words and inattentive users accept those miscorrections. (See my primer on OUPblog as well as our ongoing coverage on both […]

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aborigine / aubergine

It all started with an entry in the "Sic!" section of Michael Quinion's World Wide Words newsletter #614, on 11/22/08 (boldface added): Rachael Weiss found an item on a menu in Turkey: "Aubergine Kebap. Ground veal patties with aborigine arranged on a layer of sauteed pita bread, topped with tomatoes and spices." She observed, "We […]

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Barrack Abeam and John moccasin

Dino Capiello, "Gore: Carbon-free electricity in 10 years doable", AP 7/17/2008: Gore told the AP he hoped the speech would contribute to "a new political environment in this country that will allow the next president to do what I think the next president is going to think is the right thing to do." He said […]

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U.S. sprinter undergoes search-and-replace

As has already been the subject of much blogospheric mirth, news about sprinter Tyson Gay's record time in the U.S. Olympic track and field trials was reported in peculiar fashion by the American Family Association's OneNewsNow site. Here's a screenshot from BoingBoing: And here's one from Outsports showing a series of Google News headlines: Regret […]

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