Re: odd spelling-checker action

Subject: Re: odd spelling-checker action
From: Dick Margulis <ampersandvirgule -at- WORLDNET -dot- ATT -dot- NET>
Date: Sat, 14 Mar 1998 13:26:51 -0500

As I am not yet a Frame user, I haven't looked closely at its spell
checker, but I am not shocked that it balked at "archive." You will
probably find that it is quite happy with the noun "archives" (with an
s). The use of archive as a verb is a neologism backformed from
archivist; it is largely confined to technical/professional jargon and
thus is unlikely to have risen above the horizon for lexicographers,
unless it happens to have shown up in Newsweek, Harper's, or The New
Yorker, say.

Developers of word processing and publishing software do not edit the
lexicon of the dictionaries they purchase to ship with their programs.
So it is not surprising (although it is certainly annoying) that these
dictionaries are often lacking in words we use every day.

An example going the other diretion: Do you know the word "precisian"? I
didn't either. I guess it might show up in certain types of philosophy
or theology texts. Now it is possible that Interleaf is used to produce
philosophy and theology texts, but I tend to doubt there is a lot of
that going on. Nonetheless, when a coworker who was writing about
precision and accuracy typed "precisian" instead of "precision," she
only caught it in the middle of a presentation at a university hospital,
to her great mortification.

My theory is this: Given the horsepower we now have on our desktops, it
should be possible to implement a much smarter approach to spell
checking. (This is related to, and may turn out to be an extension of,
the approach used in grammar checkers, which could also use some
tweaking.) Look in any printed dictionary. Words have multiple meanings
and where those meanings pertain to a technical field, the lexies have
conveniently specified that fact.

I think it would be feasible (any software developers out there
listening?) to apply some artificial intelligence to catch words that
are real (that is, they exist in the dictionary) but that are out of
place (that is, they are unlikely to occur in the midst of all the other
words in this text). As a first pass, I'm willing--as a user--to click
menu choices to indicate what field I'm working in (mechanical
engineering, zoology, metaphysics, whatever), if that helps.

Has anyone else been thinking along these lines? Know of any work being
done? Is this way too esoteric a topic for this list?

Michael Clark wrote:
> >The FrameMaker 5.5 spelling checker balked at the word
> >"archive" and instead suggested "reachieve".
> I was rather shocked at this too.
> Starship Troopers 5.5. Nuff said.
> Mike

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