Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Computer Spell Check Bites: Spelling/Grammar for the New School Year

Maybe I'm old school (or getting older), but spell check is not the same as proofreading.

Actual Incident: In a legal document, an attorney asked the judge for a delay in his case because he was undergoing a delicate medical procedure on his back: Disk surgery.  However, he mistakenly typed a different four letter word that looked like DISK, inserting an unfortunate “C” rather than the needed “S.”  Spell check didn’t pick up the error, since the word was spelled correctly.

I.  Sample Student Typos (The reason spell check doesn’t work)

A faulty (faculty) member – maybe s/he got this one right
File a mew (new) motion
Filed on the mourning (morning) of
Going to trail (trial)
Lead (led) to believe
Singing (Signing) an Agreement
The Compliant (Complaint)
Tired (Tried) to flee the scene
Breech (breach) of contract
Break (breach) of contract
Stature (statute) of limitations
Statue (statute) of limitations
And my favorite:
The plaintiff assed (assessed) her need

II.  The Case for Brevity

I try to get students to take “noisy words” out of their writing.  Many times when we speak in public, we use filler words such as “Basically” or “Due to the fact that.”  Whether you realize it or not, we use those words in speech to give our brain an extra millisecond to think about what we’re going to say next.  I learned that when I had a radio show.  With the written word, there is no need for filler:

Student version:
Basically, this case is about…
My version:
This case is about…

Student version:
Due to the fact that the plaintiff was injured…
My version:
Since the plaintiff was injured…

III.  Phrases that Students Just Get Wrong

Tenant (tenet) of law
Woe (whim) of the court (Hmmm, maybe this one was accurate)

Legal principals (principles)
The principle point (principal)
Recover principle (principal), court costs, and interest

IV.  The Case for Brevity (Part II)

Student version:
According to my viewpoint, the case was pretty straightforward with the easiness of issue involved between the parties.
My version:
In my view, the case was straightforward, with easy issues facing the parties.

Student version:
The attorney briefly insinuated the relationship of two of the board members and made it seem like they had previously made a pact with each other.
My version:
The attorney insinuated that two of the board members had previously made a pact.


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