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     Volume 5 Issue 105 | July 28, 2006|

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View from the Bottom

Computer and Your Spelling

Shahnoor Wahid

Strange are the ways with computers. It is the ultimate machine that will slowly but steadily replace human beings on Earth. Therefore, instead of 'Planet of the Apes', it would be 'Planet of the Computers' soon. This conspicuously programmed machine is here to undo things that the human brain used to do in the past. Take for example simple maths. When our forefathers used to calculate large sums, addition, multiplication etc., on their fingertips, youngsters today do it on the calculator in a computer. Then there are the inbuilt spelling check and thesaurus programmes to confuse them further, and turn them into cripples of sorts.

Nowadays, even elders show the tendency to go to such programmes instead of to the bookshelf and look up a dictionary. Why? Kiukey computer hai na? So, click the right button, select the one you 'feel' is the right word and voila! The spelling woe is over! Therefore, only fools take the trouble of searching for a dictionary in the house and then sheaf through the pages to locate a word. No way. Not for us. We are computer savvy. You people are old fashioned, bhaiya.

Well, that is why a young reporter of an English magazine who wanted to be sure about the spelling of the name Nasrin Karim clicked the right button on the mouse and found the correct spelling Nazarene Karma! And it was printed the following day! I am not making it up. It really happened. You see, it never dawned on the busy reporter that the name was not an English word and you would not have it in the computer dictionary. Just as he would do in case of a confusion with any other word, he simply went for the quick solution. The busy reporter did not have the time to pick up the phone and ask the lady for the correct spelling of her name. It is only natural that he later paid for his over-dependence on the computer.

With Bengali names of places, people, food, dress etc one cannot expect any corresponding English word. But very few of our young-ones even know that. As a result if you click over the word Ashraf you will get ashtray; for Dhanmondi you will get diamond; for Mirpur, you will get murmur or mercury or even impure. Then try salwar and there will be a whole range of words like, stalwart, salary, solar and even salad. So, which one will you pick? Want more? How about Pahela Baishakh? It would suggest Pamela Baishakh. Shakhari Patti would become Sahara or Saccharin Patti. Shishu would be shish or shush (mind your diapers!). Even our 'Bangla' would turn out to be bangle or bungle. Shemai would be semi or shaman or seamy. Extra khatir will turn out to be extra chatter or extra chair. Then Motaleb becomes motley, Banu becomes bank and Saleha becomes saliva. Getting tired? Wait for the best ones. Try Parjatan and you will have pirate and pajama! Mosharraf becomes mascara. Palli biddyut is pallid buddy; Rashid is rushed or rashes; Sajjad is sagged or saga; Pervin is Peruvian or prevent.

You can go on and on. But you will not arrive at the right spelling unless you really know it! And the best way to learn spelling is - consult a dictionary (Dictionary sellers might give me an award for writing this!).

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