Autocorrect doesn’t like the way Southern people talk.

By Anita Garner

Reverend Raymond Jones, pastoring.
New church going up – Bogalusa, Louisiana, 1955

I just pushed send on my final manuscript edits to the publisher. This is the exciting part where I get to see the other pages, Dedication, Contents, Acknowledgements and such take their place next to the story in The Glory Road: A Gospel Gypsy Life.

Now it becomes the work of designers, copy editors, proofreaders and a whole publishing team. During every stage I argue with my Word program, which doesn’t accept the way my people talk.  Every time I type “pastoring” I get the squiggly red lines under it, or the highlight over the word insisting I correct it.  But pastoring is an accurate verb in my life. Pastoring is what our family often did for a living.






Sometimes I dictate to “Hey Siri” when I’m out and send emails to myself, but when I get to my computer and receive them, Mister British Siri (my favorite) has decided what my family says in a Southern accent is wrong.  I would think he’d recognize we don’t all talk alike.

It’s not just the one word, it’s phrases, sentences, paragraphs.  I expressed concern to my editor, wondering whether copy editors and proofreaders will understand. I got this back from him.

… I also want to be sure we don’t institute any sweeping edits that undo your preferences. If there are any particular usages, or passages with a lot of dialect that you are concerned about, I can discuss them in advance with our production editor (a native Southerner), to rough out a plan for how to treat important “isms.”

Bless his heart.  They’re protecting the isms. Now I have to make final photo choices, write the captions that marry them to the story and send them off.  Stuff’s getting serious out there on the dining table.




4 thoughts on “Autocorrect doesn’t like the way Southern people talk.”

  1. Grandmother Euphemia was born in Tennessee and Mama was raised in Texas, so the -isms run thick through our vernacular. Compared to California English, the accent and special words of the south bring me a special comfort, and it’s easy to put on my actress hat and become Grandmother. When we visited Aunt Juanita in Oklahoma and Aunt Novalene in Texas when I was seven it only took about two days before “yonder” was normal to me. It’s beautiful. I speak into my cell phone on microphone mode, and it doesn’t get me half the time. Technology.

  2. Love your family names, Allison. Takes me right back. We’ve got a bunch of them that crop up in the book, and more to come after I catch my breath.

  3. The ease and efficiency of word processing technology has tradeoffs.

    (Typing the sentence above got me a nasty red underline for the word “has”. I don’t understand why and it irritates me. But I don’t care.)

    Good writers are detail perfectionists, especially when it comes to dialogue and expressing the imperfections of human interaction. You have a couple of options that I know of: you can turn off auto-correct or you can simply go back and click on highlighted words to tell your computer to learn and accept the word or phrase and never but you about it again.

    I’m terribly excited for you. Envious too, but mostly just thrilled that your wonderful story will soon be told.

  4. Well now I’m at fault for not knowing to tell autocorrect to stop. I’ve tried turning it off completely and I always think it does more work for me than otherwise – so maybe I’ll start using that “not this word, you dummy” option when it gives me fits. No reason for you, especially, to be envious. You’re an award-winning playwright fercrissakes.

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