English Grammar Checker, Fragments, and Settings

A French translator was asking an interesting question the other day on the Word community newsgroup. He wanted to know how he could switch off the grammar rule which flags “Fragments”, i.e. incomplete sentence fragments that the writer is invited to revise. The user did not want to turn off the English spell-checker, which he…

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Can I remove a word from Office’s speller dictionary?

The other day, I was discussing a number of suggestions to improve Office’s spell-checker. A customer was suggesting we should allow users to delete individual items from Word’s spell-checker lexicon. This feature is already available, in fact: if you want to specify a preferred spelling for a word and to exclude a given spelling from…

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Suggested improvements to Microsoft Word’s spell-checker

A few days ago, James wrote about the articles the Seattle Times published about our Natural Language Group and the Office spell-checkers. One of these articles was encouraging the Seattle Times readers to suggest improvements (What words would you add to the Microsoft spell-checker?).  It is very interesting to read what our users consider pain…

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Natural Language Group in the (Local) News

Last week our group was visited by reporters from the Seattle Times, who took some photographs and talked to folks on the team about the challenges of developing software features that keep up with the world’s rapidly changing languages.  This morning, the front page of the Business & Technology section discusses those challenges, and a sidebar gives a pretty nice…

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Lets Play Two?

For opening day this year, my beloved Chicago Cubs unveiled a statue of the immortal Ernie Banks.  On its pedestal was engraved the catchphrase that made famous his enthusiasm for the game of baseball: “Let’s Play Two”.  Except that the sculptor forgot one little detail, as reported by the Chicago Tribune: the apostrophe!  He should…

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The Grammar Checker and Rain Man

Thinking about a couple of recent Language Log posts about grammar checkers, passive sentences, and grammatical Cupertinos, it occurred to me that grammar checkers are a bit like Rain Man.  For the benefit of younger readers (no one alive in 1988 could have missed the hype surrounding this movie), Dustin Hoffman plays Raymond (“Rain Man”), an autistic man…

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Spellchecking ain’t easy

A customer wrote to us recently with the observation that our English spellchecker doesn’t recognize the word ain’t, a fact which struck this customer as a tad, well, old-fashioned.  Pedantic, perhaps.  The words “uptight” and “shortsighted” might have been used.  Yikes!  I’ve been accused of a lot of things, but…   First, let’s admit that…

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Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac now supports the French spelling reform

Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac was released this week. Users who are interested in the French language will notice a change in the French spell-checker, which now takes into account the French spelling reform, which is recommended by official bodies such as the Académie Française, the Conseil Supérieur de la langue française, the French Ministry…

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