Georgetown Univeristy

Yes, it’s intentional.

It’s old news now, but for any who missed it, Georgetown University’s graduation program misspelled University. While some have been mocking Georgetown for this, I have a single question.

How does this happen?

How does a prestigious organization such as Georgetown not notice one of the most common typos on the planet? (“Univeristy” is up there with “teh”‘; I blame the QWERTY keyboard design.)  The only answer I can come up with is that whoever was writing, proofing, and assembling the program did not use spell-check. This is a big problem.

Many people decry spell-check. In fact, a quick search of “spell-check hate” brings back tons of groups blasting it. They feel it is a crutch, keeping people from learning to spell “properly”.  Others feel that it is distracting as they write, especially when it underlines proper names (or for the fancy, the foreign phrase they’ve included).  There are even those who consider themselves too good for it, that spell-check (and more often grammar-check) can’t understand the truly high levels of eloquence they are committing to the page.

To all of these people: suck it up.

It is difficult for the human brain to, on its own, catch all of the mistakes that it creates.  In particular, we tend to gloss over 1) our own writing, 2) words we know well, and 3) transpositions within words.  That is why “univeristy” is so easy to miss; it’s just two letters switched inside a word that everyone knows well.  Our eyes glance over it.

Spell-check doesn’t.  (Right now, the red squiggle is glaring at me to fix it.  I have to resist.)  I’m not saying that spell-check is necessary or sufficient to prevent mistakes, but it helps.  It keeps your world-class university from looking like a toon univeristy.

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