I hate the grammar checker in Word. It’s a horrible piece of technology that is riddled with inaccuracies.
Call me a pedant, but I wouldn’t want to ship a product that only half works. When a grammar checker can read the sentence
“Chocolate don’t make you fat.”
and claim that there is nothing wrong with this grammatically, there is something very wrong. Word has done this in every version since the grammar check was introduced, and still does it in Word 2010. I’d be embarrassed by this if I were on the development team. On a personal level, I am also dangerously irritated by the fact that it frequently spits out a ‘semicolon use’ message whenever I (correctly) use a semicolon in a way it can’t quite understand.
I get that natural language grammar rules are complicated to automate, partly because they have so many exceptions. Spelling is easy because each word is treated in isolation. Education observers have decried the rise of the spell-checker as a catalyst for the decline of pupils’ personal abilities to spell correctly, despite the fact that I can personally attest to the fact that much of the spell-checkers job is checking for poor typing, not poor spelling. However, none to my knowledge have examined the fact that pupils relying on the grammar checker as a crutch may not only be unable to form sentences themselves, but will go around believing such monstrous constructions as the one above to be correct. At least by relying on a spell-check, the end result is still correct spelling.
IT professionals, especially in schools, are frequently asked to address problems that are not technical in nature, but that management have decided are best handled with a technical solution.
Our problem today may at first seem similar to #4, but it has a subtle difference…
“Can we change everybody’s default font in Word to Arial? We need to keep communications from the school looking consistent.”
This might look like the problem here is really that you need to just tell people that they must use the correct font, but that’s not the real problem here. The real problem is that the person who asked me to do this is a control freak. This is unfortunately a problem that is only exacerbated by technology. I lied and told him it wasn’t possible.