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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Typing on Autopilot

I'm not a typist; I couldn't legibly type even a short sentence were I not constantly glancing at the keyboard. I spend more time looking at the keys (and at my moving fingers) than not.

And yet (for I do not quite type by the "hunt and peck" method, either), interesting results do constantly come from my fingers-on-autopilot, mostly having to do with substitution of similar morphemes or with the phonetic (in contrast to correct) spelling of a word.

For instance, regarding substitution of similar morphemes, I frequently type (and even more frequently when writing script, write) the letter ‘b’ when I intend ‘p’ and vice-verse. But I never “mix my p’s and q’s”, for ‘p’ and ‘q’ do not represent similar sounds.

An example of phonetic spelling on autopilot, and what prompted this post, is that I just a few minutes ago, once again, caught myself typing ‘ai’ for the word ‘I.’ You see, the written-word ‘I’ represents a diphthong, and the *proper* phonetic spelling for that sound is ‘ai’ -- all that business about long-i and short-i we were taught in grade school is a serious misrepresentation of English-language orthography. Sure, it’s the traditional way of teaching it, but it’s based on ignorance.

=== addendum:
On a note related to the ignorance-based nature of the common teaching of English orthography, many of the "rules" of English grammar we are taught are even more egregiously false, for they do not, in truth, apply to the English language.

For instance, the "rule" against the split infinitive doesn't actually apply to the English language. It's based on ignorance and on trying to force the English language into the grammar rules of the Latin language (damn those French since 1066!).

Lawrence Auster has (yet again) a recent post to express his loathing of the split infinitive: Against the split infinitive: the battle continues -- Mr Auster, you may lay down your arms! The war is over, and it was all a big misunderstanding! I know for a fact that either Auster himself or one of his minions reads my blog (would that make that person our dual minion?), and so I expect him, soon or late, to become or to be made aware of this little post.

English is not a Romance language, it is a Germanic language; as such, its rules are Germanic-based, not Latin-based. Thus the split infinitive is perfectly acceptable in English. It matters not a whit that the majority of our vocabulary is Romance-based; our grammar is Germanic.

Now, for sure, many people split the infinitive in an infelicitous manner; but that’s due to a general carelessness about how they speak (and think!), not about any violation of a non-existing rule of the language.


Ilíon said...

Other examples of my auto-pilot are that:
* I almost invariably type 'within' as 'withing' and have to backspace or correct when I later notice the error;
* Because I've typed the word 'Ilion' so often, words ending in '-io' frequently get typed as '-ion.' For example, 'scenario' often becomes 'scenarion.'

Drew said...

Or how about "whinging"

Ilíon said...

When I type that, I intend it.

Have any you want to share?

Ilíon said...

Another example is the words 'think' and 'thing.' I can't begin to guess how often I type the one when I intend the other, and I've noticed that others do likewise upon occasion.

I sometimes type the letter 'd' when I mean 't' (their sounds are related); I've done it twice in this note. And I sometimes type a word which has no relation to the word I intend, except that it may start with the same letter.