Fribble March 06, 1996
A Frizzle on Spellchecking
by MF Selena

What can be learned from a spellchecking session? Perhaps a lot. I'm relatively new to Fooldom, and in the course of my Foolish writing and editing I've used my trusty Microsoft Word spellchecker many a time, and have been surprised at which words the spellchecker doesn't recognize. I like to think that I'm peering into the mind of Bill Gates as I ponder these interesting omissions.

For example---Internet. Yes, Microsoft, the company that considers itself at the forefront of all that is hi-tech, does not appear familiar with this obscure component of the English lexicon. It has a remedy, though, suggesting that Internet be replaced by Interment. Yup, the act of burying. So is Bill Gates looking at cyberspace as a brave new world or as hole in the ground, six feet deep and waiting to be filled? I would have expected Internet to be recognized as a real word. Or at least for replacement suggestions more apt, such as Intrepid, International, or Internode. But I guess we should just be happy we didn't get Internecine, which means mutually destructive, marked for slaughter, or involving violent death within a group.

I was impressed that the word Microsoft, which does not appear in my edition of Webster's, is nevertheless recognized by the spellchecker as a fine, upstanding, legitimate word. As are, in all fairness, the words IBM and Macintosh. Even America Online passes the test, as online has become a valid word to the spellchecker. But little Iomega? Nope---the spellchecker suggests Omega. (Perhaps inspired by Bill Gates glancing at his watch as he ambled by the Department of Spellings and Misspellings?) How about Cisco Systems? Leave it to the spellchecker and you end up with Crisco Systems. or Disco Systems. (Now those are fribbles begging to be written!)

How about Fooldom? Well, apparently Bill Gates and his disciples have yet to recognize what is fast-becoming a household word. The spellchecker shrugs and suggests Folder. Or Flooded. Well, we do have a lot of folders. And flooded with information we are. So maybe the spellchecker is merely being coy.

In order to investigate whether Microsoft was slighting Fooldom in favor of Wise financial prognosticators, I tried typing in Dan Dorfman and was surprised to discover that even the word Dan was considered misspelled. There were many suggestions, among them dank, damn, darn. Indeed, if we were to yield to the spellchecker, we'd be listening to the rasping voice of the Darn Doorman!

How about the ingenious discoverer of Beating-the-Dow, Mr. Michael O'Higgins? Nope---not recognized. The erudite and eloquent MF Templar? FM Tempura. MF Fletch? MPH Fetch. MF Uptrend? FM Upturned. MF DowMan? MPH Cowman. Magellan manager Jeffrey Vinik? Jeffrey Viking. Piper Jaffrey? Piper Jeffrey. Curiously, the term microcap becomes microchip. These startling voids in such an illustrious electronic dictionary certainly give me pause, and make me wonder whether Microsoft is really on the ball. Do I want to invest in a company that doesn't speak the same language that I speak?

Last but not least, and perhaps most surprising of all, is the omission from the Microsoft dictionary of the word Fribble. We are urged to replace it with Frizzle, which in my title, I do.

[Note: These musings are based on my experience with Microsoft Word for the Mac, version 5.0.]