Can a grammar checker do this

Subject: Can a grammar checker do this
From: "David Downing" <DavidDowning -at- Users -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 4 Mar 2002 14:26:31 -0500

(I did try to search the archives for this, but although I found many
posting on grammar checkers, I could find one addressing this specific

I ordinarily shun grammar checkers (for all the reasons many other folks
shun them) but there is one error I was thinking they might help me find
-- the typo which is itself a real word and thus goes unnoticed by the
spell checker. ("Your bank may refuse to honor your check, even is you
have enough money in your account.") I recall that long before anybody
even thought of word processors, a linguist* had the idea of using a
computer to assess the grammatical correctness of a sentence by
searching for it a database of pre-existing published writing of all
kinds. The fewer instances of the sentence in the database, the more
likely it was to be grammatically incorrect. Turns out this isn't a
reliable measure of grammatical correctness**, but maybe you could use a
variation of it to at least show you strings of two or three words that
occur very rarely, and are thus suspect. So can Word's grammar checker,
or any other independent grammar checker or text analysis program, do
anything like this?

*I think it was Chomsky, but I'm not sure.

**Some grammatically correct sentences would still be rare because
they're semantically messed up. The example given to me was, "Colorless
green ideas sleep furiously."

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