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Professor Finds Fault with MS Grammar Checker

timothy posted about 9 years ago | from the sew-dew-eye dept.

Software 607

ChuckOp writes " front-page article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer states: "The University of Washington associate professor has embarked on a one-man mission to persuade the Redmond company to improve the grammar-checking function in its popular word-processing program. Sandeep Krishnamurthy is also trying to raise public awareness of the issue." He includes some twisted prose that the grammar checker fails to find fault with, such as: "Marketing are bad for brand big and small. You Know What I am Saying?" and "Gates do good marketing job in Microsoft". This last comment is disputed by retired Microsoft researcher Karen Jensen, who developed part of the underlying technology; "Only by knowing that 'Gates' probably refers to Bill Gates -- and not to the plural of the movable portion of a fence -- would the program know to suggest using 'does' instead." The professor also has several twisted examples available."

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607 comments

Oh I See! (5, Insightful)

fembots (753724) | about 9 years ago | (#12069191)

By visiting his site, I found out that he is the Associate Professor of Marketing and E-Commerce, and I was played right into his hand and visited his site! I bet he's laughing with his colleague from the Department of Statistics right now.

Re:Oh I See! (5, Funny)

dr_dank (472072) | about 9 years ago | (#12069314)

Yes they're laughing, but at the notion of hearing slashdot and grammar in the same sentence.

Re:Oh I See! (4, Funny)

AKAImBatman (238306) | about 9 years ago | (#12069387)

Yes they're laughing, but at the notion of hearing slashdot and grammar in the same sentence.

That's GRAMMER, you twit!

[...]

Err... wait a moment....

Re:Oh I See! (5, Insightful)

khrtt (701691) | about 9 years ago | (#12069523)

The reason there is a grammar checker in M$ Word is that M$ stuck it in there to have a leg up on competing wordprocessors (long time ago, when there actually were other WP. Now, any computational linguist will tell you, making a grammar checker actually work right is next to impossible.

Noone can do it (yet), not microsoft, and not any serious scientific team. There is no such thing as a usable grammar checker. The reason is that in too many cases you need to understand context to be able to check grammar, and computers can't quite understand natural speech, except in scifi movies. You can make a grammar checker that will sort-of work, but all too often it would just fuck up. Just like the M$ one.

The best you can with the grammar checker is send it the way of Clippy, i.e. turn it the fuck off.

Now, this guy the article is about, he's a marketeer. Them marketeers invented the darn thing, and now one of them is complaning about it, and he hasn't got a clue in CompSci. He does have a clue in marketing, though. This time he's marketing his website.

It's only a simple tool! Use your knowledgebase! (4, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | about 9 years ago | (#12069195)

The University of Washington associate professor has embarked on a one-man mission to persuade the Redmond company to improve the grammar-checking function in its popular word-processing program. Krishnamurthy is also trying to raise public awareness of the issue.

It's a tool that's not meant to take the place of actual proof-reading. The grammar checker included w/Word should only alert you to the possibility of some generic issues. If you are turning in, presenting, or distributing some paper you created I would suggest that you take the time and check over it yourself. After you check over it I suggest you have someone else check it over too.

Microsoft calls that the fundamental issue. Responding to an inquiry about Krishnamurthy's examples, the Microsoft Office group said in a statement that the grammar checker "was created to be a guide and a tool, not a perfect proofreader." Microsoft also makes that point in Word's product documentation.

Why should MSFT be held to some high standard for a tool that they include in their software? They should be forced to change it because some college student doesn't understand that "Marketing are good" isn't grammatically correct? Blame the student and their previous education not a tool that MSFT offers.

"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.

Perhaps require your students to hand in a draft first and you can tell them. In my experience very few professors cared about grammar, spelling, or even the basic content of the paper. How are these students supposed to know what they are doing is wrong if no one will take the time to teach it to them? MSFT is supposed to do that now?

"If you're including a feature in a widely used program like Microsoft Word, it's got to pick up more things than it currently does," he said. "I agree, the English language is very complicated, but I think we should expect more from grammar check."

Come on. I expect that out of my college education I should have at least earned the right to have a professor take the time out of their busy schedule to check over my paper for me. Most would glance over it and say it's fine. I only had *two* that actually spent the time to tear my papers down and show me what was wrong so that I wouldn't make those mistakes again. Does this professor want to do that or does he just want to berate MSFT for not doing it?

But how did a marketing and e-commerce professor become a grammar-checking crusader?

The professor is careful to point out that he's not out to bash Microsoft. But he says the company is spending too much energy on extraneous capabilities, while neglecting core features such as the grammar checker.

Sounds like bashing to me especially considering he's a Marketing prof with a background in e-commerce. I wonder what his intentions really are for this "one man crusade". The grammar checker is not a core feature IMHO. I use it as a tool to give me some quick direction but I certainly don't consider it to be the end-all and I certainly wouldn't tell my students to use it if I was a professor.

Re:It's only a simple tool! Use your knowledgebase (3, Interesting)

Maury Markowitz (452832) | about 9 years ago | (#12069274)

> Why should MSFT be held to some high standard
> for a tool that they include in their software?

You're kidding, right?

Maury

Re:It's only a simple tool! Use your knowledgebase (4, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | about 9 years ago | (#12069317)

> Why should MSFT be held to some high standard
> for a tool that they include in their software?

You're kidding, right?


This isn't a mission critical piece of software included with Windows OS. It's an extraneous tool included with Word to help and guide people to realize that there might be an issue with their writing.

Re:It's only a simple tool! Use your knowledgebase (4, Funny)

DarkSarin (651985) | about 9 years ago | (#12069279)

I have to disagree--I think that making the grammar checker more intelligent is a very important part of the program.

I think that it is VERY annoying at this point, and I frequently turn it off because of that. Would I use an intelligent grammar check? Yes, by all means. It should also have an option for "story mode" or "dialogue", and ignore bad grammar within quotes so that I don't have hundreds of errors (alleged) popping up when I quote someone or when I choose to write about a character who uses bad grammar.

Re:It's only a simple tool! Use your knowledgebase (5, Funny)

ThosLives (686517) | about 9 years ago | (#12069414)

...ignore bad grammar within quotes so that I don't have hundreds of errors (alleged) popping up...
You should see what Word does to engineering specifications if you forget to turn off spelling and grammar checking...

Re:It's only a simple tool! Use your knowledgebase (1)

rpdillon (715137) | about 9 years ago | (#12069476)

I don't usually miss the joke around here, but I'm stumped. How is this funny?

I would have rated it "Interesting" or "Insightful"...

Re:It's only a simple tool! Use your knowledgebase (4, Insightful)

cot (87677) | about 9 years ago | (#12069318)

"I certainly wouldn't tell my students to use it if I was a professor."

Why the hell not? It's far from perfect, but it still will catch bad grammar 9 times out of 10, so I fail to see how this makes it useless.

Yes, you still have to proofread. However, proofreading is imperfect, especially when it's your own work and you don't have time to set it down and come back to it with a fresh perspective. At least the grammar checker will highlight most of your mistakes, and the false positives can be quickly evaluated and ignored.

Yes, it could be significantly better, but that doesn't mean it's useless. You just have to know its limitations.

Re:It's only a simple tool! Use your knowledgebase (1)

haluness (219661) | about 9 years ago | (#12069320)

Come on. I expect that out of my college education I should have at least earned the right to have a professor take the time out of their busy schedule to check over my paper for me. Most would glance over it and say it's fine. I only had *two* that actually spent the time to tear my papers down and show me what was wrong so that I wouldn't make those mistakes again.

I would think that a profs job would be to check content rather than grammer. I don't know much about US high school education, but I would expect that students coming into college would know how to write grammatical English

Re:It's only a simple tool! Use your knowledgebase (5, Funny)

cot (87677) | about 9 years ago | (#12069392)

"I don't know much about US high school education, but I would expect that students coming into college would know how to write grammatical English"

The latter part of this statement makes me really believe the former.

Re:It's only a simple tool! Use your knowledgebase (1)

tehshen (794722) | about 9 years ago | (#12069344)

Blame the student and their previous education not a tool that MSFT offers.

What if the tool is being used in education - how can you blame a student if said student doesn't know better? My school has Word do a German grammar checker (yes, it's not English, but the principles are the same) and although it knows to change die to der, send verbs to the end with weil, and so on, it does not catch more complex phrases, such as relative clauses or a few questions. I can look up words fine in dictionaries, but checking grammar by hand is a lot more difficult if you are not sure what you are supposed to be doing.

Re:It's only a simple tool! Use your knowledgebase (1)

Reignking (832642) | about 9 years ago | (#12069370)

"I certainly wouldn't tell my students to use it if I was a professor."

were a professor :)

Re:It's only a simple tool! Use your knowledgebase (1)

starrsoft (745524) | about 9 years ago | (#12069417)

Yeah, I know. You're right. But hey, this is Slasdot. Let's bash Microsoft all we can!! ;)

Re:It's only a simple tool! Use your knowledgebase (1)

starrsoft (745524) | about 9 years ago | (#12069455)

Ooops... Should have used MS Word's spell checker... =)

*Slashdot

Re:It's only a simple tool! Use your knowledgebase (1)

markov_chain (202465) | about 9 years ago | (#12069474)

They should be forced to change it because some college student doesn't understand that "Marketing are good" isn't grammatically correct?

Interesting point there-- is that phrase really gramatically incorrect? What if I was writing a story about a race of aliens called "Marketing" and tried to describe them? It seems that writing a 100% correct checker is so dependent on understanding and context that it's pretty much impossible.

Re:It's only a simple tool! Use your knowledgebase (1)

carpe_noctem (457178) | about 9 years ago | (#12069544)

Perhaps require your students to hand in a draft first and you can tell them. In my experience very few professors cared about grammar, spelling, or even the basic content of the paper. How are these students supposed to know what they are doing is wrong if no one will take the time to teach it to them?

Wow, you must have gone to Arizona State, too! Sun Devils in da house reprezent!

Re:It's only a simple tool! Use your knowledgebase (5, Funny)

rpdillon (715137) | about 9 years ago | (#12069550)

I certainly wouldn't tell my students to use it if I was a professor.

That should be "if I were a professor". It's the subjunctive mood. Betcha you wish you had a better grammar checker now!

Yes.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12069196)

I remember in English class where MS Word had found some grammar errors in an essay written by a professor of English.

Why anyone turns that POS on is totally beyond me.

Re:Yes.. (1)

koreaman (835838) | about 9 years ago | (#12069542)

"Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach."
His being an English professor does not mean he speaks and/or writes with perfect grammar.

Slashdotter finds flaw in This Article (1)

dolo666 (195584) | about 9 years ago | (#12069200)

Changing do=>does is not going to fix that statement. In fact, the whole article needs to be retooled with some critisism. (apply within)

Microsoft do bad softwares? (5, Funny)

Neil Blender (555885) | about 9 years ago | (#12069207)

That's unpossible!

Alternatives? (2, Insightful)

Morphix84 (797143) | about 9 years ago | (#12069278)

Anybody know how the grammar checkers in alternative office suites are? Star Office, Open Office, Word Perfect, etc.?

Mod Parent Up! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12069342)

I'd like to know. :P

Re:Alternatives? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12069538)

For Open Office, the current version does not have a grammar checker that I'm aware of. Maybe in version 2.0...

Re:Alternatives? (1)

Neil Blender (555885) | about 9 years ago | (#12069539)

Anybody know how the grammar checkers in alternative office suites are? Star Office, Open Office,

As far as I know, OpenOffice has no grammar checker. At least I can't find it.

NO WAY! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12069216)

M$ gr4mm4 t4ugh7 m3 h0w t0 t4lk

What? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12069222)

Me not understand problem.

You're kidding, right? (-1, Troll)

2names (531755) | about 9 years ago | (#12069226)

"Sandeep Krishnamurthy" is going to make a grammatical stand for humanity?

He should start with ANY of the following:

Convenience store clerks

Technical support operators

Taxi drivers

Third-world-sweatshop programmers


Let the flaming begin.

MOD PARENT UP - IS NOT TROLL (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12069504)

MOD PARENT UP - IS NOT TROLL

Well of course! (3, Insightful)

The Barking Dog (599515) | about 9 years ago | (#12069228)

Any automated tool that parses something as complicated and subject to variation as English grammar is going to have issues. A serious writer isn't going to rely on the MS Word grammar checker to be their sole indicator if something is written poorly. I think of it more as a tool to catch the blitheringly obvious, not the subtle details. But then again, his examples do seem pretty blitheringly obvious...

Nice. (1)

2names (531755) | about 9 years ago | (#12069284)

I think of it more as a tool to catch the blitheringly obvious, not the subtle details. But then again, his examples do seem pretty blitheringly obvious...

You really should stay out of arguments about grammar.

Grammar checking? (2, Insightful)

badmammajamma (171260) | about 9 years ago | (#12069231)

You mean people don't turn that shit off immediately after installing Office?

Re:Grammar checking? (1)

Bagels (676159) | about 9 years ago | (#12069498)

I find it very useful when writing in other (and, for me, non-native) languages, like French; it certainly doesn't give me the grammar of a Parisienne, but it can fix small problems - putting verbs in the right tense, making adjectives/adverbs, agree with the rest of the sentence...

This is stupid. (5, Insightful)

Datamonstar (845886) | about 9 years ago | (#12069232)

I mean come on. I'm not even a MS fan and I agree that their product could get better, but if you're going to write like a 4 year old... And it would be different if the product's purpose was souly to check grammar. It's NOT. There's a point at which the user has to step in and use some sense and actually EDIT their work themselves.

Re:This is stupid. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12069376)

There's a point at which the user has to step in and use some sense and actually EDIT their work themselves.

I'm a foreigner in an English speaking/typing country (USA) and didn't really spend so much time paying attention to English classes when I grew up because I was more interested in programming on computers and playing games. So sue me that I have to rely on a tool like spell checker in MS Word, but it sure would be nice if it could do a better job without I or someone else have to check it.

Re:This is stupid. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12069520)

I think you meant to say 'solely' instead of 'souly'. Unless you're James Brown, in which case I sincerely apologise. Or apologize. Or, whatever...

While you're at it... (4, Insightful)

Manip (656104) | about 9 years ago | (#12069242)

I wish they would improve the spellchecker too. I myself am dyslexic and often have to use google to correct my spelling when the Office spellchecker lets me down.

Re:While you're at it... (1)

slapout (93640) | about 9 years ago | (#12069536)

I hate to be a "me too"er, but I agree. There are many times when I'm trying to spell a word and MS Word can't figure out what I mean. Even after trying several spellings. Google usually (not always) gets it on the first try.

English speaker? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12069246)

Is he one of these goddamned professors who you can't understand a word they're saying?

Typical M$ Problem (5, Insightful)

msaulters (130992) | about 9 years ago | (#12069253)

He includes some twisted prose that the grammar checker fails to find fault with, such as: "Marketing are bad for brand big and small. You Know What I am Saying?" and "Gates do good marketing job in Microsoft". This last comment is disputed by retired Microsoft researcher Karen Jensen, who developed part of the underlying technology; "Only by knowing that 'Gates' probably refers to Bill Gates -- and not to the plural of the movable portion of a fence -- would the program know to suggest using 'does' instead."


Ms Jensen doesn't note that the example is STILL incorrect even if one doesn't assume Gates is a proper noun. Grammatically, it should be, "Gates do good marketing jobs in Microsoft." Plural JOBS.

Of course, the chances of seeing a Jobs in Microsoft these days are probably nil.

Re:Typical M$ Problem (1)

m3j00 (606453) | about 9 years ago | (#12069375)

Ms Jensen doesn't note that the example is STILL incorrect even if one doesn't assume Gates is a proper noun. Grammatically, it should be, "Gates do good marketing jobs in Microsoft." Plural JOBS.
The fact that the subject is plural doesn't mandate that the direct object be plural. However, the word job would need an article if it's going to be singular.

Re:Typical M$ Problem (1)

Otter (3800) | about 9 years ago | (#12069441)

"Gates do good marketing work in Microsoft." would be a similar statement with correct grammar. I suppose the system should know that "job" only appears as a noun along with an "a" or a possessive. (Or does it? I can't think of a counterexample.)

In any case, this whole thing is stupid. Writing a perfect English grammar checker would be a Herculean task, Microsoft doesn't claim the Office spell checker is remotely perfect and I'v never encountered anyone who thought it was invaluable. And the Slashmob may want to learn to use apostrophes correctly at a rate better than that predicted by chance before casting stones...

Easy solution. Learn to write. (4, Funny)

tinrobot (314936) | about 9 years ago | (#12069267)

If someone has to rely on a grammar checker in order to write a decent sentence, then something is seriously wrong.

should proofread anyway (1)

poppen_fresh (65995) | about 9 years ago | (#12069281)

It seems to me that people should be worried about Word marking something wrong that isn't, and let people use the grammar checking feature knowing that the English language is too ambiguous sometimes even for a computer to completely understand, and therefore they need to proofread anyway.

example of ambiguity: "Fruit flies like a banana"

Complexity of English (5, Insightful)

TildeMan (472701) | about 9 years ago | (#12069283)

I agree that there are many shortcomings in Microsoft's grammar checker. However, to what extent should we bother trying to improve it? English is an extraordinarily complex language and it should be easy to construct "twisted" examples which any grammar checker would miss; any standard intro AI course will warn of the dangers of overfitting data anyway. On the other end of the spectrum, I'm sure it's easy to construct examples which the grammar checker will never allow but which are often perfectly acceptable under certain circumstances. English grammar simply isn't as black and white as, say, C syntax, no matter what we geeks would like. :-)

Ummm... (1, Redundant)

Senjutsu (614542) | about 9 years ago | (#12069285)

"Gates do good marketing job in Microsoft". This last comment is disputed by retired Microsoft researcher Karen Jensen, who developed part of the underlying technology; "Only by knowing that 'Gates' probably refers to Bill Gates -- and not to the plural of the movable portion of a fence -- would the program know to suggest using 'does' instead."

So if it thinks "Gates" is a plural form, why doesn't it find fault with the fact that job isn't pluralized in agreement with the noun? ""Gates do good marketing jobs in Microsoft" is grammatically correct, if rather nonsensical

Either way, this guy has found a flaw in the program.

alternative... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12069289)

By the way, can anyone suggest a better alternative for grammar checking than the one in ms office?

Re:alternative... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12069349)

Yes, I can recommend an alternative to software tools. The alternative is a decent education.

They expect way too much... (5, Insightful)

hankwang (413283) | about 9 years ago | (#12069292)

It goes a bit far to require a software company to design software that can do a full grammatical analysis of phrases. That is more something for a long-term academic research project. Take for example articles. If you've ever cooperated with someone with a background in Asiatic or Slavic languages, you start to realize how hard that is. The ground rule is: always put "a" or "the" in front of a singular noun. Article placement (note: without article) is hard. The article placement, or the lack thereof, in the previous sentence, was correct. Why only "the" in the second phrase? How would you let a wordprocessor feel the difference? Most of the grammatical errors in the shown examples are about those articles.

I'd rather have a program that points out the typical mistakes that occur when you cut and paste around, i.e. phrases without a verb, or with too many verbs, than one that is giving false alarms all the time. A grammar checker cannot fix a bad writer. Neither a spell checker, for that matter. (Do you write "advise" or "advice"?)

Personally, I don't use grammar checkers (not available for Emacs AFAIK anyway), and a spell checker only if I doubt about a particular word. There are way too many words in the kind of things that I write that make the spell checker freak out.

BTW, I probably made a mistake or two in this posting. My excuse is that I ain't no native speaker. :)

Re:They expect way too much... (1)

cot (87677) | about 9 years ago | (#12069366)

"There are way too many words in the kind of things that I write that make the spell checker freak out. "

You're a big fan of gibberish, eh?

I find that even in technical writing it's worth going through and adding the jargon I need to the dictionary. After the first few papers, it's pretty aware of the words I need and I've caught more than a few typos I would have missed otherwise.

Grammar (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12069299)

Nelly is the greatest artist of the 21st century.

openoffice (2, Interesting)

rkv (852317) | about 9 years ago | (#12069306)

heh my openoffice.org caught the mistakes and speeling errors :P

Re:openoffice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12069511)

Too bad your browser doesn't do the same. :P

Maybe they should improve the English language (5, Insightful)

PxM (855264) | about 9 years ago | (#12069311)

If the MLA would come up with a formal specification of the English language that was a recursively enumerable language [wikipedia.org] it wouldn't be so fucking hard to parse the language. They could at least formalize things like order-of-operations regarding clauses and enumerated lists and give a better set of punctuation to work with. They should choose whether they want the language to be pure communications medium with a formal syntax or if they want it to be a completely flexible means of artistic expression full of nuances and hints that can only be understood by a sentient being who has studied the language in-depth for many years.


--
Want a free iPod? [freeipods.com]
Or try a free Nintendo DS, GC, PS2, Xbox. [freegamingsystems.com] (you only need 4 referrals)
Wired article as proof [wired.com]

The rise of Microsoft English(TM) (4, Interesting)

G4from128k (686170) | about 9 years ago | (#12069312)

I see this all the time in errors in newspapers and magazines. Its obvious that someone ran a checker and just clicked "OK" at whatever was suggested. Spelling and grammar checkers have taken the place of actual knowledge of the language.

I suspect that, in the long run, this will change usage so that Microsoft English becomes considered acceptable. But the trend does frighten me, given the recent issue with open standards in Massachusetts [slashdot.org]. In a dystopian future, open source eye-balls will only be allowed to read, not write, the language.

With a name like Sandeep Krishnamurthy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12069319)

...you'd think he'd be more concerned with the spellchecker.

Obviously Misinterpretted the Use of Grammar-Check (4, Insightful)

dayid (802168) | about 9 years ago | (#12069326)

This isn't something new. People have known for years that the grammar checker is less than perfect. Now, if this were a developer saying, "Well, it would be better if you did..." I would have a lot more respect for the article. I can point out problems with lots of things left and right, and without giving a good, reasonable solution, simply pointing them out is what we generally call complaining.

I'm far from a fan of Microsoft, but since I work for a literacy program funded by the U.S. Government, I am adequately shocked that people use grammar check for anything more than catching where they mistyped "th estory" instead of "the story" and similar such mistakes. Also being a college student, I find myself re-reading my papers quite often, and generally fixing a few mistakes in my original text. Few, if any, of these would have been found by the grammar checker.

Then again, I guess you could also say I have an agenda to UN-automate the process of checking spelling and grammar, as it seems to me it's growing to be one of those automated features that doesn't just serve in time-saving, but also extends to the dumbing of America. Not just the, "I don't care" kind of dumb, but also the "I don't have any need to care" kind.

Please, get over it.

Two words: Proof read (4, Insightful)

AnonymousJackass (849899) | about 9 years ago | (#12069343)

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,
If you're a grad student relying on Word's grammar check for your term paper, you get everything you deserve! The grammar/spell check on Word, or any other word processing tool for that matter, is there to be used as assistance but should not be used as the definitive answer for anything remotely important!

By all means use a spell checker but if you've spend days/weeks/months writing a paper, the least you can do is spend a few hours reading it for grammatical errors!

This prof doesn't know what he's talking about (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12069361)

Creating an accurate grammar checker would require writing a program that truly understands human language. That's currently far beyond the capabilities of state-of-the-art systems, even with huge amounts of processing power, let alone what can be done in the background while you work on an ordinary desktop machine. I think this professor should read a few books on computational linguistics before he butts his head in where it doesn't belong, he obviously doesn't know what he's talking about.

What we have here is a failure to communicate.... (1, Flamebait)

tuxq (703148) | about 9 years ago | (#12069374)

Do people really expect any software company to come up with a fail-proof grammar check? It wont happen--or at least in my lifetime. Why should MS have to compensate for the lack of intelligence of its users? They've obviously done it enough, look at Windows XP. It all comes down to this: Those who understand the English language in all its complexity--be it grammar or spelling--are the ones who should be writing documents. Not morons. You can't idiot-proof everything.

absurd! (1)

rayde (738949) | about 9 years ago | (#12069399)

This is just rediculous! The MS grammer checker has been working flawlessly as part of Slashcode for years!

</sarcasm>

I May Be In the Minority on This (4, Interesting)

Skye16 (685048) | about 9 years ago | (#12069407)

But I say "good". I'm glad the grammar checker in Word is so fubar. It shouldn't be the catch-all for any paper you write. If it points something out that is incorrect and you fix it - okay! If it points out something correct and you tell it to ignore it because you do have a decent grasp on the English language, then okay. And if you just tell it to "Fix All", then you deserve to get the "wtF?!" at the top of your paper. Sure, English can be a bit of a pain, but you should never completely rely on someone else's grammar checker to take the place of learning the language in the first place.

ralph (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12069411)

MS grammar check doesnt work? That's unpossible!

A professor, eh? (5, Insightful)

Jerf (17166) | about 9 years ago | (#12069430)

A professor, eh? Let's check that website:
SANDEEP KRISHNAMURTHY, Associate Professor of Marketing and E-Commerce, University of Washington, Bothell
Oh.

So, what we have here is somebody just saying, in essense, "Gee, Microsoft, why isn't your software at human-level AI? I mean, how hard can that be?" and is so utterly incompetent at assessing how hard grammar checking is that they are utterly unaware of how incompetent they are. (Hmmm, that sounds familiar [phule.net], though this isn't quite the same.)

I invite Associate Professor of Marketing and E-Commerce Sandeep Krishnamurthy to try his hand at the AI problems he is upset that Microsoft hasn't waved a magic wand and fixed, though I feel obligated to warn him that as an associate professor of marketing, he's likely to be in for a world of intellectual hurt unless he's got some other source of knowledge and skill squirreled away somewhere, like a PhD in Computer Science he is for some reason forgetting to mention.... Perhaps then he would have some understanding of why even the mighty Microsoft has not yet produced the Perfect Grammar Checker....

On that note, check in with actual Linguists on the feasibility of the idea of a Perfect Grammar, too. You probably have a lot to learn there, too.

BNF (1)

ShaggyB (849018) | about 9 years ago | (#12069437)

In order to correctly determine if the given phrases in the article are grammaticly correct, it would require some form of AI analysis of the semantics of the phrases. Since this is still quite a programming challenge, is anyone REALLY suprised that MS Words Grammar check doesn't work right?

I know why... (1)

ectotherm (842918) | about 9 years ago | (#12069446)

"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." Sounds like they used "offshore" labor to code the grammar checking module... ;)

Don't I know it (2, Interesting)

jointm1k (591234) | about 9 years ago | (#12069472)

The Dutch version of the Microsoft spelling checker changes my name, "Mikael", to "Eikel". This means acorn, in Dutch. "Eikel" also refers to the sensitive part of the male sex. A third meaning is that of "jerk". Needless to say I have never used the Microsoft spelling checker ever since. >:(

suX0r (0, Troll)

blew_fantom (809889) | about 9 years ago | (#12069477)

MiCR050Ft I5 +3H 5UCk. tHeY 5h0UlD M@kE @ 83tter Gr4mM4R ch3CKEr. UN+1L th3y C@N C0rreCT L33T, tH3Y 4rE +Eh nOoB.

Another TM in the works? (2, Funny)

Kainaw (676073) | about 9 years ago | (#12069479)

Only by knowing that 'Gates' probably refers to Bill Gates -- and not to the plural of the movable portion of a fence --

Is Microsoft going to trademark 'Gates' now as they did with 'Windows' so you'll have to pay him a license fee every time you talk about your 'moveable portion of a fence'?

GRAAAH!!! (5, Funny)

flyingsquid (813711) | about 9 years ago | (#12069505)

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!

Easy fix (1)

stratjakt (596332) | about 9 years ago | (#12069528)

File->Preferences->Grammar

Uncheck "Yoda Mode".

I don't see how MSFT can take the blame, grammar and spelling, and proper English simply are not taught in US schools anymore.

Anyone who relies (1)

thephydes (727739) | about 9 years ago | (#12069537)

on a piece of software to check any part of their written work in a tertiary institution, probably has been let down by their primary and high school education in some way. Oh hang on, doesn't the constructivist bullshit that many junior schools rely on as a basis for their pedagogy say that chiildren can invent their own knowledge....... Thats ok then, we'll let some machine help them invent that knowledge.

Is there a F/OSS checker? (1)

eddy (18759) | about 9 years ago | (#12069540)

Is there a decent F/OSS grammar checker? Seems like an important project. I guess a probabilistic approach which could be trained for various different languages would work best.

"Only by knowing..." (1)

csoto (220540) | about 9 years ago | (#12069552)

Hmm. I never use proper names in my sentences. Nor am I clever enough to understand that "gates" (the swinging type that keep people out of your yard) "do marketing."

What do people expect when they expect so little from Microsoft?
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