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May 1, 2005


According to a recent article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Sandeep Krishnamurthy, an associate professor at the University of Washington, is leading a crusade to persuade Microsoft to improve the grammar-checking function in its popular “Word” program. 

"If you're a grad student turning in your term paper, and you think grammar check has completely checked your paper, I have news for you -- it really hasn't," he said.

Microsoft says it has been making continuous improvements in the grammar-checking tool, and the company notes that the issue is more complex than it might seem. Experts in natural-language processing say the broader issue reflects a deep technological challenge beyond the current capabilities of computer science.

Krishnamurthy isn’t convinced Microsoft is doing everything it can.  In fact, he has put together a web site where he posts several documents containing awful grammar.  An excerpt from one of his documents:

"Marketing are bad for brand big and small. You Know What I am Saying? It is no wondering that advertisings are bad for company in America, Chicago and Germany. ... McDonald's and Coca Cola are good brand. ... Gates do good marketing job in Microsoft." 

(To be fair, my “Word” grammar-check caught the word “are” in the phrase: “Marketing are bad…”)

In a Microsoft Blog some of the discussion on this subject has gotten humorous:

"Hulk work hard on Grammar Checker for Microsoft! Program many long hours. Very hard to type with huge green hands and puny little keys! Many times get angry and smash keyboard. Many keyboards broken. Hulk also get help with grammar from Yoda. Yoda very wise. Maybe not best work in world, but Hulk take pride in work. Why puny University of Washington professor criticize hard work of Hulk? Criticism hurt Hulk's feelings. Hulk angry! HULK SMASH!"

As for me, I shouldn’t complain.  I don’t claim to be an expert in grammar.  Spell-check has saved me more than I would care to admit.  However, since beginning this web-site I have noticed that spell-check does not know Crosswordese.  My guess is that fully half of the words I’ve introduced in that last four months have not been recognized by spell-check.  I realize that none of these words are common, but most of them are found in standard dictionaries.

My bigger peeve, based on a multitude of poorly written e-mails I’ve received, is the total lack of proof-reading by the average person.  I would guess that at least half the e-mails I receive at work, and I receive many, have at least one error in them.  This shouldn’t be.  I’m sure if the sender simply read what they were sending 90% of the errors would be fixed.  (I feel a little intimidated writing an article like this since, as I admitted earlier, I am not an expert – there may be some mistakes in this article.  However, you may rest assured that I have read this over to check for errors.  And, yes, I will use spell-check.)

April 16, 2005 Frequency

April 7, 2005 Keyhole

March 19, 2005 A New Champion

March 12, 2005 More Great Links

March 1, 2005 Chicken Strata ala King

February 23, 2005 Solution!

February 21, 2005 Letter Rip?

February 12, 2005 Spelling Bee

February 1, 2005 A 75th Anniversary

January 29, 2005 Video Google

January 22, 2005 Unexpected Pleasures

January 4, 2005 Invisible Ink

January 1, 2005 Let The Adventure Begin

Paul Stynsberg, © 2004