I do much of my writing via Google Documents these days—the writing that I do collaboratively with friends, because Scrivener unfortunately doesn’t support collaborative writing via the Internet yet. And as I write, I run across a pet peeve: Google keeps trying to “correct” my spelling to make my perfectly grammatical phrasing grammatically incorrect!
For example, when I write that someone says they’re “all right,” Google asks if I’m sure I didn’t mean “alright.” (I did not.) And if I write “a lot,” Google asks me if I’m sure I didn’t mean “alot”. (I absolutely did not.) I could sort of see “alright” given that it’s become common enough that it’s in the dictionary as an alternate spelling of “all right” (though even the dictionary notes that “all right is used in more formal, edited writing”), but “alot”? Seriously? What the hell, Google?
I’m more inclined to fall on the “descriptivist” versus “prescriptionist” side of the dictionary debate—I’ll even split infinitives if I can’t come up with any less awkward way to phrase things. But I draw the line at Google outright suggesting to me that I use an invalid construction in my writing. Yes, I can click “ignore all” and Google will never bother me about that again—but what about all the people who don’t have as good a grasp of grammar as I do? What business does this trusted tool have telling them that maybe they mean something incorrect?
I halfway suspect Google of basing its autocorrect decisions on frequency of use. After all, if a link is linked to a lot, that means it’s more relevant—so if a lot (or “alot”) of people make the same spelling mistake, that means it must not be a mistake after all, right?
Ugh. Seriously, someone really needs to nip this in the bud, right now.