I’m a horrible speller. Ok, I’m a lot better now. But I at least used to be a horrible speller. I remember my parents coming home from parent-teacher conferences when I was in 5th grade and telling me how they went. Academically, my teacher had said that I was doing great. (She had other concerns, and I heard that she said point-blank that I’d never make it through middle school; I guess I’ve proved her wrong on that.) My parents had raised the concern of my atrocious spelling, and her response had been, “That doesn’t matter; there’s spell check!”
And it’s true. Spell check is getting more and more powerful, and is often very helpful (except when it messes things up). In English. Or French. Or lots of other world languages. But Jula? Not so much. And My Language? Not so much either. We try to write our words consistently, but it’s kind of hard sometimes when there is no spell check. Or is there?
SIL has created a great computer program called FLEx that I love playing with. (Ok, I love working in it. But sometimes it feels more like a computer game than real work, so I can think of it as playing.) It’s where I have my dictionary, and it will print out whatever I want. English-My Language dictionary? Coming right up! My Language – French/Jula? That will be printing 15 minutes later! So handy. But that’s not all this powerful toy, err, tool, does. I also put my stories in there, and it helps me find patterns, translate them back into French so consultants and others can read them, and other cool stuff.
And it makes me a spell checker! When we made our first 15 little picture booklets, I thought that they were all spelled consistently. But then I typed the words into FLEx. (Actually my secretary, aka my mom, put them all into a Word document for me. Thanks, Mom!) And FLEx told me several times, “Um, Susie? That’s not how you have that word spelled in your dictionary. You may want to change it. And this word? It’s not even in the dictionary yet!” So even for perfectionist me, I had helped make books with spelling inconsistencies. Oops! Thanks, helpful FLEx, for being my spell checker!
And I guess my 5th grade teacher maybe was right – there is spell check, even in My Language!