When spellcheckers attack: The Cupertino Effect

“The Cupertino Effect” is the technical term for a correct word that is consistently erroneously replaced by spell-checkers. It’s named for Microsoft Word 97’s habit of changing “co-operation” (a common British spelling) to “Cupertino,” yielding such boners as “a 1999 NATO report mentions the ‘Organization for Security and Cupertino in Europe’; an EU paper of 2003 talks of ‘the scope for Cupertino and joint development of programmes’; a UN report dated January 2005 argues for ‘improving the efficiency of international Cupertino’.”

Other notorious examples of the Cupertino effect include an article in the Denver Post that turned the Harry Potter villain Voldemort into Voltmeter, one in the New York Times that gave the first name of American footballer DeMeco Ryans as Demerol, and a Reuters story which changed the name of the Muttahida Quami movement of Pakistan into the Muttonhead Quail movement.

It could be worse. Leave out one of the os from the beginning of co-operation as well as the hyphen and you might be offered not Cupertino but copulation. Now that would be an error to write home about. Or perhaps not.


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1 thought on “When spellcheckers attack: The Cupertino Effect

  1. ok, i hate the fact that when i log in, it takes me to the stats page and then i have to go back to find the post.

    I like the words that spell check will suggest for people’s names. Occasionally I will “correct” them, just because it amuses me. Confusion often ensues.

    I use Dragon Naturally Speaking when I’m writing papers for school and the errors that program makes are pretty hilarious. I often miss a few of the mistakes since the words are spelled correctly, they just aren’t the right words.

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