'I Am Not A Typo' calls for tech giants to correct autocorrect

'I Am Not A Typo' calls for tech giants to correct autocorrect

A massive 41% of names of babies born in England and Wales are ‘typos’.

This has been revealed by a new campaign calling on the tech giants to correct autocorrect and spell-check spell-check.

I am not a typo (IANAT) advocates for greater tech inclusivity and has undertaken research into baby names in the UK to demonstrate how the technology we use should be more inclusive and reflect today’s multicultural UK.

Across all girls and boys names given to children in England and Wales in 2021 (with a minimum of three occurrences), 5,492 of 13,532 were ‘wrong’, in testing conducted on Microsoft’s English (UK) dictionary – 41%. Names deemed typos include many of African, Asian, and Eastern European origin – but also popular Scottish, Welsh, and Irish names.

'I am not a typo' analysed the most recent data on baby names in England and Wales released by the Office of National Statistics. The campaign group found that popular names such as Ottilie – with 430 occurrences among girls in England and Wales in 2021 and 1,732 occurrences in the five years analysed were ‘typos’.

Alongside a billboard campaign calling for the tech giants to correct autocorrect, an open letter to the technology owners highlights the example of Esmae.

“Esmae – all 398 born in England and Wales in 2021 – is wrong, apparently,”  the letter writes. “Same for the 447 born in 2020, 501 born in 2019, 480 born in 2018 and 502 born in 2017. That’s 2,328 in the last five years. That’s compared to 36 instances of the name Nigel in that time.”

Supporting the campaign, Professor Rashmi Dyal-Chand of Northeastern University in the US, author of the paper Autocorrecting for Whiteness, said: “My name is Rashmi, not Rashi, Rush me, or Sashimi, autocorrect notwithstanding. For people with names like mine, autocorrect is not convenient and helpful. It is unhelpful. And yes – it is harmful.”

Also lending her support, writer and journalist Dhruti Shah, who has covered the issue extensively, said: "My name is Dhruti. Not Drutee, Dirty, or even Dorito. And yet these are all words my name has been changed to, often because of an autocorrect decision or a rushed message. My first name isn’t even that long – only six characters – yet when it comes up as an error or it’s mangled and considered an unknown entity, it’s like saying that it’s not just your name that’s wrong, but you are."

National Records of Scotland data analysed found that across all names (girls and boys) given to children in 2022 in Scotland, 3,347 of 8,074 (41%) were ‘typos’, according to Microsoft’s English (UK) dictionary including prominent names like Ruaridh, Lochlan, Maeva, Ayda and Fiadh.

And the same English (UK) dictionary deemed popular names of babies born in Wales to be incorrect – like Alys, Seren and Osian – as well as names of babies in Northern Ireland, including Oisin, Daithi, Meabh and Eabha.

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