Impact of typos on ESL readers?

Subject: Impact of typos on ESL readers?
From: Steven Jong <stevefjong -at- comcast -dot- net>
To: TECHWR-L Digest <TECHWR-L -at- LISTS -dot- TECHWR-L -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 12 Mar 2018 14:49:49 -0400

Typos are a fact of life. We understand they are bad both because they can erode reader confidence in the accuracy of a document and because they can cause reader confusion and misunderstanding.

Are these negative effects actually worse for readers of English as a second language (ESL)? Itâs possible for a native reader to guess the intended word from the context of the passage, and even a typo that creates an actual word can be ignored from context. But is the effect even worse for an ESL reader?

My assumption is yes, typos are even more confusing for those readers. If youâre trying to look up an unfamiliar word and itâs not even in the dictionary because itâs misspelled, it might not even be apparent what the error is. If the mistake is a real word, you might misunderstand the idea because of it.

(This seems obviously true to me. The only other language I can read even a tiny bit is French, and if there's a mistake in the original French Iâm never going to detect it. The problem also seems extensible to all languages; that is, itâs a general problem for all readers of language X as a second language, or XSL. But I ask the question in open ignorance. What do you think?)


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