Microsoft Word is Racist

Discussion in 'Community' started by 12ibookg4, Sep 26, 2004.

  1. 12ibookg4 macrumors regular

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    Dec 22, 2003
    #1
    I was writing up a history paper about the Virginia Gazette in 1770 and comparing the articles with those found in the newspapers of today. In 1770 the newspapers had ads for slave auctions and descriptions of run-away slaves put in the paper by the slave masters with the hope that the slave would be returned.
    So I run a Word Spelling and Grammar Check and it tells me that instead of using the word "who" to refer to the blacks it would be more correct to use "that" because the word "that" is used to refer to anything non-human.
    I'm sure this was not meant to be racist by Microsoft but it does give some more evidence that MS is an evil evil company.
     

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  2. yellow Moderator emeritus

    yellow

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    #2
    While disturbing, I don't think the grammar checker is sophisticated enough to figure out when you're speaking of a racial group versus an adjective. I suspect it would say the same thing if it was "whites" or "greens" in place of "blacks".
     
  3. jenniff macrumors member

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    #3
    Exactly. It does the same thing for "whites", "reds", "purples", and any other color. (I pulled up word to check, how silly am I?)

    <englishrant>
    That is because "blacks" is an improper pronoun. Say "black people" and you shouldn't have a problem. How is it supposed to know if you are talking about black people, black checker pieces, black cars... you get my drift.

    You could say "In addition, there are descriptions of black people who were captured and accused ...."
    </englishrant>

    That's a bit more balanced than pronoun-izing (here I am, making up verbs) an entire ethnic group by their color (imo), therefore objectifying them (just as the grammar checker pulled up).
     
  4. wowser macrumors 6502a

    wowser

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    #4
    It is actually grammatically fine to say either 'blacks' or 'whites' - MS Word is just so anal that it gets all confused thinking you are talking about colours. However, i would say that if you do use the wither term, you should make sure you are consistent - ie, do not refer to both 'blacks' and 'white people' - choose if you are going to use the suffix terms and stick with that decision.
     
  5. Counterfit macrumors G3

    Counterfit

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    #5
    "Verbing weirds language" -Calvin :D
     
  6. FuzzyBallz macrumors 6502a

    FuzzyBallz

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  7. MoparShaha macrumors 68000

    MoparShaha

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  8. 12ibookg4 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #8
    thanks for fixing that sentence, i corrected it and printed out a new copy. your sentence sounds a lot better
     
  9. wowser macrumors 6502a

    wowser

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    #9

    Powerpoint is Fat-ist!
     
  10. 12ibookg4 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #10
    Windows is anti-Semitic
    (well not really but click on the link about the Wingdings font and death to jews)
    link
     
  11. jefhatfield Retired

    jefhatfield

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    Jul 9, 2000
    #11
    to me, this all sounds conspiracy theorist

    but just look at what microsoft did, or didn't do, but took credit for, and reaped cash for...there are plenty of examples one can find that ms is not the most ethical company, but to try and say they are anti-black or anti-semitic is a stretch
     
  12. 12ibookg4 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #12
    we all know that they are not really anti-black ot anti-semitic but isn't it just a little fun to go along with microsoft is the company that every one loves to hate
     
  13. jefhatfield Retired

    jefhatfield

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    #13
    ms is a little like the evil empire ;)
     
  14. GeeYouEye macrumors 68000

    GeeYouEye

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    #14
    Think about it this way, if it was a story about laundry come to life, you could have the same sentence and it would make perfect sense with "that" in that sentence. It's possibly being overly politically correct in assuming that "blacks" isn't referring to black people.
     
  15. FuzzyBallz macrumors 6502a

    FuzzyBallz

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    #15
    You're the racist. Should've used African American.
     
  16. jenniff macrumors member

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    #16
    an english debate, egads

    It's easy for a human to make the distinction, but the computer can't make the distinction and thus displayed it as a grammatical error. And, if the computer gets confused, this is a sign that perhaps the writing is mildly (or majorly) ambiguous and may* require revising (which 12ibookg4 ended up doing). It's obviously up to the author whether he wants to be ambiguous or not, and whether he wants to objectify a class of people by using "that" or personalize them with "who."

    I view it as proper writing etiquette. It does not sound right to say "hey, look at those whites over there," or to write "in the past, the whites of NewYorkCity cultivated blahblah and did thisandthat." It just doesn't sound right with "whites," and it doesn't sound right with "blacks."

    It's better to have a nice, solid phrase like "white people," "black people."


    (Not all black people are African-American. They could be from South America, Middle America; it is possible to have no clue where they are from. I've a black friend from Panama, for goodness sakes. But you all knew of the heritage thing, and I'm just performing finger exercises by typing this out.

    This also ties into that debate of Latin/Mexican/Hispanic/Spanish descent, which is another waste of bandwidth to discuss. )
     
  17. Mechcozmo macrumors 603

    Mechcozmo

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    #17
    I am Jewish, and I belive that the people that find that stuff have WAAAAAAAYYYYYY to much time on their hands. What if it had happened a day later? People would waste their time playing with Windings, and say "Well, it is a day off.....~sigh~"
     
  18. iJon macrumors 604

    iJon

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    #18
    In other news the sun came up today. I agree with the reader above, too much time on their hands.

    jon
     
  19. Apple Hobo macrumors 6502a

    Apple Hobo

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    #19
    Please tell me you're joking...
     
  20. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

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    #20
    Doubtful the application is racist, usually it's the application's users & programmers that are the racists.
     
  21. FuzzyBallz macrumors 6502a

    FuzzyBallz

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    #21
    Check my past posts to find the answer.
     
  22. AmigoMac macrumors 68020

    AmigoMac

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    #22
    Do not blame the program when you are the one WHO writes out of the rules THAT were established...

    Just some minutes ago I got the "MS Aqua(Carbon) screen of death" :D
     

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  23. Penman macrumors regular

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    #23
    What's wrong with being sexy?
     
  24. wordmunger macrumors 603

    wordmunger

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    #24
    I wrote a paper a few years back on the usefulness/uselessness of MS Word's grammar checker. I came upon some interesting research. Here's a quote from my paper:
    If anyone's interested, I'd be happy to post the whole paper.
     
  25. zelmo macrumors 603

    zelmo

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    #25
    Wasn't there something similar right after 9/11? I recall an article about how WingDings or some such symbol font converted 911 into an airplane and two buildings. Anyone else remember this, or am I just hallucinating again (damn flashbacks!)?
     

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