Re: Grammar Checkers

Subject: Re: Grammar Checkers
From: Matt Ion <soundy -at- NEXTLEVEL -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 27 Jun 1996 11:04:15 -0800

On Wed, 26 Jun 1996 00:06:00 CDT, FARAH FLEURIMA wrote:

> Hi!

> I'm writing a paper in my tech editing course about the use of
>computer grammar checkers in tech editing and writing. Are they
> used at all in this field? I'd really like some input from anyone
>who'd like to comment.

The only grammar checker I've ever used is the one between my ears.
It's probably the only one I'd trust, too (although I often use a
spellchecker to catch problems in the connection between my brain and
my fingers).

> The specific focus of this paper is the effectiveness of grammar checkers.
>Would or should anyone in tech editing rely on them at all? Are there
>any versions that are superior to others and why? Also, what is the
>greatest shortcoming of grammar checkers?

As with spellcheckers, they're only as good as the person who
programmed them. With the English language in particular, there are
numerous intricacies and idiosyncracies that I doubt any computer would
catch.

For example, most would probably try to "correct" the phrase "Robinson
Crusoe walked down the isle" by replacing the last word with "aisle".
Unless specifically programmed with the cultural reference to Robinson
Crusoe, and possibly the ability to read a paragraph or two surrounding
the phrase for context (possibly a reference to a wedding or movie
theater), the computer would have no way of knowing that "isle" *is*
the proper word (I'll bet you're not likely to find many aisles on his
isle!)



Your friend and mine,
Matt
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
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is a new metaphor for... reality." -- Queensryche

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