What every chicken should know about Cupertino

Reader Logo by Paul Burman

I'm not a flash typist.  Reasonably fast, but not efficient.  After 25 years of keyboards and a good few years on a typewriter, I've never progressed beyond two fingers, even if I can usually get by without looking at the keys. As someone unkindly pointed out once, my typing style resembles a starved chicken pecking for food more than anything literary.  But, as I less imaginatively (although quite graphically) pointed out in return, it's amazing what can be communicated with two fingers... and so they did.

Sometimes, one of my fingers overtakes the other, or slips along one position on the keyboard to present a whole new sense (or nonsense) to my writing, and it isn't uncommon for me to sign off my emails with:
instead of:

Sometimes, the nonsense my typing creates seems almost inspired, suggesting another (stronger) meaning to the one I intended, and I've redrafted whole paragraphs accordingly. 
This is when I thank the gods for the divine cock-up.

And sometimes, I've wondered what it wopidl bne like to leave all my errotd om [plave, as a post-modern respomse tp writing loiterature... and whether thos mught catch om.  Might this be the new CLOCkwprk Oramge?  Hmm, one day I might gibe it a go, but that's probably enough for the moment.

Occasionally, the issue is compounded by AutoCorrect.  (This only happens when I'm not working on my own machine, though, because it's a program I loathe with a passion and so automatically turn it off.)  On such occasions, any word that Microsoft's limited dictionary doesn't recognise - either because of my chicken-pecking clumsiness or because Autospell has the vocabulary of a poorly-read hermit - automatically becomes another word.

The most memorable example of this maladjustment was in an essay I received from a student several years ago, who was describing Lennie, from Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men.  Either her spelling wasn't crash hot or her typing was at a similar level to mine, because instead of writing that Lennie was a gentle giant, she had written Lennie was a gental giant, which AutoCorrect had changed to Lennie was a genital giant

With AutoCorrect, the spellings of surnames are also changed at the drop of a hat, and Burman becomes Barman (not too bad, except the tips are lousy), whereas my mistyped apul becomes appal.  Steinbeck's colloquial helluva becomes a medical heloma, a misspelled resterant becomes reiterant in preference to restaurant, and so on.

What I didn't know until recently, however, is that there is a word to describe this effect, named after what was a common error.  Early Microsoft AutoCorrect software did not recognise the word cooperation unless it was hyphenated (co-operation) and replaced this spelling with the closest word it knew: Cupertino (the home of Apple Inc.).  Hence, the Cupertino effect.  This apparently resulted in a number of foreign policy documents stressing the importance of international Cupertino, and also serves to illustrate the importance of roof-weeding.

After I've written my post-modernist CLOCkwprk Oramge, I might rewrite a few classics in Cupertino, beginning with Of Mice and Men.


L.A Speedwing said...

Very funny article!

Paul Burman said...

Thank you, L.A Speedwing; I'm glad you enjoyed it. You are obviously a person of good taste.

Jane Turley said...

Some spelling errors can be be most amusing:) Your article reminds me of an occasion at school when the teacher (loudly) pointed out that I'd written "naturist" instead of "naturalist." It was the source of much amusement...

Paul Burman said...

... and the beginning of a lifelong commitment?