Algorithmic Grammar

Google Docs and I do not have the same understanding of grammar. I know nothing about the skills of whoever programmed the Docs algorithm, but since I learned grammar from my mother, who was a great copy editor, I have a great deal more faith in my opinion than I do in theirs. 

Here is an example of a sentence where Docs wants me to change the words “is more”: 

Why do we believe
the solution to violence
is more violence?

Maybe the reason is simply that I’m using the haiku form to write that sentence, because the blue line under “is more” disappears when I write it without line breaks. 

I should note that the blue lines appear whenever Google Docs finds something “wrong” even though I have “suggest changes” turned off. Apparently you can’t really turn off “suggest changes.”

Here’s another line from one of my daily senryu:

Build your healthy life.

Docs doesn’t like my use of “your.” Since that is a perfectly good imperative sentence, I do not understand it. This one isn’t related to the formatting; Docs marks something wrong either way.

Docs also doesn’t like my use of “doesn’t” as a verb in the first sentence of that last paragraph, since Docs looks like a plural even though I am using it as the name of a program, which makes it singular. Docs is also inconsistent in its application of this rule, because it has no objection to the “is” in this sentence. 

I had thought that capitalization of Docs alerted the algorithm to the fact that I was using it as a proper name (for the very program I’m writing about). When it objected to “doesn’t,” I thought the problem was that it was the first word in a sentence and the algorithm couldn’t tell whether I meant docs in general or Google Docs. 

But the lack of objection to “is” destroys that theory. Now I don’t know what the hell it’s doing.  Continue reading “Algorithmic Grammar”