Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Google: My Personal English Assistant

Here's another entry that was originally intended as a comment to another very popular blog. Again, I have decided against it and have instead posted it here:

This discussion on English as a language is both enlightening and challenging.

And it’s probably because English is arguably a formidable language to study and learn, littered as it is with very many exceptions to its many perplexing rules on grammar. Even mighty MS Word’s spelling and grammar tool is at best below average, if we have to judge it on stricter “standards” of grammar and its many subfields such as syntax .

We grant that it is a very dynamic language even within its many variations, or dialects, if you must. To illustrate, newly coined words and usages get added quite often. Thus, there is no guarantee that groups who are native speakers of English can rightly claim collectively superb understanding of and proficiency in it. I would hazard the guess that even so-called expert wordsmiths or renowned linguists will commit errors in their everyday use of it

Thus, a “workable” understanding and proficiency in English ought to generally suffice. Don’t ask me what the parameters of “workable” are. I do not profess to know. Except, as one example, we do not claim, “we have an accent” when in fact we are either simply mispronouncing words or using incorrect grammar or syntax.

BTW, has anybody tried putting the entire Comments section of this one blog entry through MS Word’s spelling and grammar wringer? I did. And saw many red-colored underlines. Including for my particular comment entry. Of course, many are not really errors. Blame it on the spellcheck’s naiveté and latent obsolescence.

It is a big challenge then not to negatively depict other English speakers, even if one can personally acquit oneself in the knowledge and proficiency of English.

Me? I put great faith and trust in my personal English assistant. Google. I’m sure many do, too.