Foreign words and phrases are easy prey for the Cupertino effect, as when a California lawyer submitted a brief in which the Latin phrase sua sponte (‘of one’s own accord’) had unfortunately been changed to sea sponge, or when Reuters referred to Pakistan’s Muttahida Quami Movement as the Muttonhead Quail Movement. Unusual proper names are also potential pitfalls. The New York Times once changed the first name of football player DeMeco Ryans to Demerol, while the Rocky Mountain News rendered Leucadia National Corp. as La-De-Da. And the New Scientist recently reported on a spellchecker fiasco in a Contemporary Sociology review article: contributors’ last names were changed from Gareis to Agrees, Beavais to Beavers, Gerstel to Gretel, and Sarkisian to Sardinian.
The title of my post comes from the end of his:
It’s best to heed the warning given by the Denver Post after it was embarrassed by an errant spellchecker:
One sympathetic journalism expert said yesterday that spellcheck can be an editor’s enemy, “as Voldemort is to Harry Potter.” Or as our spellchecker would have it, “as Voltmeter is to Harry Potter.”