Is my Spell checker racist?

Working on my story for the #BlackLivesMatter competition, I find that my spell checker gives me that annoying spelling-error red line when I write a common black name (even though I capitalized it), but accepts commonly-white names without question.

No I don’t think its racist lol. A lot of ethic names, such as Asian, Black and others are commonly marked as error. White names are very common, that is why the spell checker doesn’t mark them.

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But how difficult would it be to reprogram the checker to accept ethnic names? I mean the name I’ve picked is pretty common? Jamille (for the record)

Yes, I think it is important to reprogram the spell checkers. But most of these spell checkers are made for the purpose of spell checking english, and not other languages. It is almost impossible to expect them to add other names though, because it is not used often. They only add names if they are extremely common such as Bob, John or Claud.

Spell checker does this with most names that aren’t used daily. Whenever I type in my actual last names it underlines them and tells me it’s wrong. One is Scottish and the other is Norwegian. The only way you can “fix” it is add the name to the spell checkers dictionary.


Prejudice and racist are not the same thing and I’m unsure what a common black name is per say but I know my name is automatically incorrect since it’s not a “Classic” name.


As you have said, it is not the same. And I don’t think we can really say spell checkers are racist. My name is automatically marked as incorrect because it is not a common nor a white name. And it makes sense because when writing in English, names that are not in English are not commonly used. I am not saying that it is okay, I do think they really need to reprogram the software and add names that are not “common”. I just think we can’t say that it is racist. :relaxed: Sorry if I came off as trying to justify it.


Nah I get it TBH it’s more about the programmer than the program but some names pass and some don’t like my brother Nikhail’s name is fine also Devonte and Malik but my name would be who is this no lol.


Same oh my gosh! When I type “Xiao Zhan” Xiao is okay but Zhan isn’t but then Feng is okay while other names such as Dohwon isn’t lol. I do think they need to take the time to add names that are not only white, or per say “common”.

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Very true

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I’m white as you can get but it never gets my Eastern European name right. And it also gets the British spellings I use wrong all the time.


My first name is literally Anglo-Saxon and spell check thinks it’s wrong. My last name is really common for Americans with French roots and spell check messes that one up too. It’s not racist, it just doesn’t know how to behave around anything that isn’t a super common name in whatever country you’re in.

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… are you kidding me?
Just because your spellcheck doesn’t recognize a name doesn’t mean it’s racist.
Give me a break.

Hi there,
can you perhaps tone your comments down a bit? Wattpad is a friendly and open place. And, sadly, there are many forms of subtle racism we seem to accept as normal. A spellchecker wouldn’t be the first thing.
Just think of other pejorative terms such as “humMANkind”. That assumes the default is male. Misogynism is another expression of repression couched in “everyday life” or “normality”.
The TO asked a valid question. Please provide valid answers.

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Ultimately, spell checkers reflect the biases of the people creating the databases they use. It would make sense that these biases creep into the user experience. Luckily we can add words, but yeah, there’s probably an unintentional bias there. They’ve probably programmed it using machine learning with white-leaning content. This isn’t something I’ve considered much but it’s a good point. If it’s any consolation, my spell checker didn’t recognize the name Alec/Alek and it’s a relatively common white name. Either way there’s obviously room for improvement.

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I sometimes wonder if they trained those spellcheckers on nothing but 19th-century English literature before sending them out into the world.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that mine (in Google Docs) recognized almost all the Latinx and Nahua names I used in my last WIP, but most of the time I make very good friends with the “Add to Dictionary” button.

Pretty sure the word “human” comes from Latin’s humanus, not English’s man (which, by the way, was originally a gender-neutral term, male being werman and female being wifman). But nice try.

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I should have written mankind. That would have been more obvious. Humankind is the more moderate version already.

No, that’s not racist. Just reprogram it if you have the time.

Soellcheck fixes my French last name every single time I spell it out (and I’m too lazy to reprogram it). But don’t get me started on alllllll the problems I have with Irish names whilst writing my 3rd WIP… yikes :rofl: