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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Building corpora with the Live Search API

I just read Building and Exploring Web Corpora, which includes the Proceedings of the 3rd Web as Corpus Workshop (WAC3-2007) held at the University of Louvain-la-Neuve in September 2007. A number of papers describe how computational linguists have been using Microsoft’s Live Search Application Programming Interface (API) to build and clean corpora to be used…

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Untied Nations or United Nations?

During my vacation in December 2007, I had a chance to visit a friend of mine who works for the United Nations in Bangkok. On a Friday evening right before Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s visit to the UN Bangkok office, I chatted with his colleagues in the UN building over beer and wine. Many of them…

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MSR blog on the Microsoft Research Machine Translation system

Our colleagues from the Microsoft Research (MSR) group have started blogging about the statistical machine translation (MSR-MT) system they are developing. We announced the Windows Live Translator when it was launched in September. Check out their blog if you want to know all the details about this system. For instance, you will discover how to…

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