typing by ear

Here’s something I noticed today: I type aurally. That is, I type like someone transcribing for closed-captioned television; I type what I hear in my head. There’s a narrator (me, presumably), and my hands type, usually by muscle memory, whatever the narrator says.

I figured this out while writing and editing my last post, on the film I.O.U.S.A.. Listening to my internal narrator, I typed the following:

[T]here’s an undeniable chill to watching the National Debt Clock being switched on again after it had been mothballed at the end other Clinton administration.

What I meant, of course, was:

…at the end of the Clinton administration.

Freudian slip, you say? I say it’s a homophone problem. For the lazy typist part of my brain, “other” sounds close enough to “of the” not to ring any alarm bells.

This explains, I think, why I often substitute “their” for “there,” or “two” for “too,” even though I’m perfectly aware of the difference in meanings. It can’t be a simple letter drop, as one might suspect in the case of typing “to” for “too” (which also happens sometimes). I think, rather, that certain muscle memory patterns are simply easier to access and execute than others. “Their,” for whatever reason, just springs to… er… hand more easily than “there.” Don’t know why this should be, but it does make me feel better about my grasp on English homophony, even if I now feel worse for having been snooty about other people’s homophone mistakes all these years.

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