Hong Kong Sevens

Autocorrect spells trouble for those with hang pets

Smartphones aren't really all that smart, so beware before you click the send button when texting

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 24 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 24 March, 2013, 8:47am

Predictive text is the backseat driver of the tech world. It messes with your head ... and your words. It can get you into all sorts of mix-ups, especially at the Sevens, when you try to send texts, even early in the day. Stumpy fingers, small keyboards, blurred eyeballs and rugby distractions can spell trouble.

Somehow "sleep" becomes "slip" which is apt when you consider some slip down the slippery slope and get caught in the vortex of the Sevens maelstrom. Use moderation, pace yourself and you'll avoid the "hang pets" (hangover).

Clearly, autocorrect has its biases.

Ben Gollings, the world's highest sevens points scorer, comes up as "Bean Spilling" (He's not spilling the beans on how he mastered this).

Yet Waisale Serevi, the Fijian who kept Hong Kong Sevens crowds in awe for nearly two decades, comes up spelt correctly, as does Jonah Lomu and the Hong Kong Sevens highest points scorer, China's Johnny Zhang Zhiqiang.

Francois Pienaar comes up as "Francois Pie Hat", even though he's shaped nothing like "The Pieman" Martin Hollis, self-appointed Sevens mascot in the early 1990s. Predictive text also thinks of him as "Francois Pioneer, which he was as captain of the 1995 World Cup-winning 15s team, a feat no one could predict when he played one only sevens in Hong Kong during the early 1990s.

New Zealand Sevens coach Gordon Tietjens might be amused to know he becomes "Gordon Tear Jerk". There were plenty of England fans crying in their seats at the Hong Kong Stadium during the nail-biting sevens final against New Zealand on a damp Sunday afternoon of March 2011.

So Kon Po, which becomes So Job Ko, perhaps paying homage to all the people who work at the sevens while 40,000 people give it all they've got in the rugby party stakes.

Many of the ways that predictive text alters words are hilarious, which comes up as "Hula Riot". How does predictive text know the Beach Boys are playing at the Sevens on Saturday afternoon?

There are plenty of charities around the Sevens, and plenty of raffles, which somehow becomes "effluent." Mega Fund, a government fund that supports sports and the arts, morphs into "mega fauna". Ironic in Hong Kong, as we're not exactly known for it.

Will Carling becomes "Wheel Carrying", and he does carry on with some wheely funny one-liners. Said Carling of Jason Leonard at a rugby dinner in Hong Kong a couple of years back: "One player shouted to him in a match when he was injured, you don't need a physio, you need a mid-wife." Perhaps as Leonard has been recently nominated for president of the RFU, Carling may wish to rethink that statement…

Ieuan Evans becomes "Iron Evans". Rugby players may rival iron men in their fitness, and he is is also known for a good one-liner.

Another fairly regular Sevens visitor, Peter Wheeler, could take his pick from being renamed "Peter Wallet" or "Peter Wailer".

Northern Englishman Jonathan Bentley is a Sevens regular on the speaking circuit. He may laugh at "John Bent Leg". Many a rugby speaker wears the wobbly boot, as opposed to the playing boot, during Sevens week in Hong Kong when official speaking gigs are finished.

French actor Gerard Depardieu played a rugby coach in a movie, and is the vice-president of a French Club in Bordeaux. Predicitive text thinks he's Gerard Depressive. Maybe a few Frenchmen were when France lost the Rugby World Cup to New Zealand.

Former New Zealand No 8 Zinzan Brooke is morphed into "Zig Zag Bike". Perhaps there's a message in here not to ride your bike home after the Sevens.

He also comes up as "Zinfandel Brook". It's hard to think of him in the same light as a pink Californian wine grape, and he's hardly fruity.

Some other former players who are Sevens regulars are also morphed:

  • Gavin Hastings - "Having Bacardi". This drink's not on sale at the Sevens, by the way.
  • Gareth Edwards - "Fare thee Edwards". The Welsh winger is fluent in Welsh, but this sounds more like Middle English.
  • Buddha Handy - "Buff Handy". Even he'd agree he hasn't been for some time. "They say you are what you eat, but I don't remember eating a short rotund man," is one of his favourite one-liners.
  • Kobue Weisse - "Kong Weisse". Well, he was the Springboks' equivalent of King Kong.
  • Bobby Skinstad - "Bobby Skin Star". In his heyday, many women had stars in their eyes over this Bok.

After years of having noses broken this way and that, many a rugby player ends up with a nose a bit like Barry Manilow, which is morphed into "Barry Man Eating Nose".

My most essential tool this week is a computer, which predictive text spits out as compost. Well, it does describe the pile of whatsit that I'm dealing with this week.

Predictive text is not nice to most first names, so beware this week. Pray it should not make you address a client you are keen to meet at the Sevens called Fergal as "Feral," or one called Barry as "Batty."

"Anita" becomes the Hong Kong exclamation for absolutely everything, "Aiya", which is heard often in the stadium. "Gabe" becomes "fave". "Marty" morphs into "nasty", which hopefully is not the case if his team lose.

You might not seal the deal with your potential client, Colin, if you sent him a text addressing him as "Colon". "Craig"' becomes "Cranky"… three days with little sleep can do that to anyone.

Predictive text wants to mess you up. It's out to take you down … the path of technology gone awry, or was that "Ari"?