Second Language English and Microsoft Word

My wife is an excellent writer, probably one of the best writers I know personally (that is, I don’t Graham Greene – yet).

She works as a tutor on writing papers at Trinity Western and has made the observation on a few occassion that Microsoft Word’s spell check and grammar check often cause more problems than they help with foreign students whose second language is English.

For them, Word’s little squiggly red or green lines are the ultimate spelling and grammar authority. Now they’re normally pretty safe with spelling, but Word’s grammar is wrong pretty regularly simply because it cannot handle complex sentences very well. It gets lost pretty quickly.

But the result is that she has to point out and correct extra mistakes that the students didn’t originally make. They were simply truing Microsoft:

“Its an American company, right? They’ve got to know English better than I do.”

Anyway, that’s a bit of a musing on language for you.

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