Microsoft Word is Racist

12ibookg4

macrumors regular
Original poster
Dec 22, 2003
199
0
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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yellow

Moderator emeritus
Oct 21, 2003
15,925
1
Portland, OR
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".
 

jenniff

macrumors member
Mar 2, 2004
92
0
Is Chicago, is not Chicago!
12ibookg4 said:
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.
yellow said:
I suspect it would say the same thing if it was "whites" or "greens" in place of "blacks".
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).
 

wowser

macrumors 6502a
Jan 25, 2004
895
0
Inglaterra, Europa
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.
 

12ibookg4

macrumors regular
Original poster
Dec 22, 2003
199
0
jenniff said:
You could say "In addition, there are descriptions of black people who were captured and accused ...."
thanks for fixing that sentence, i corrected it and printed out a new copy. your sentence sounds a lot better
 

12ibookg4

macrumors regular
Original poster
Dec 22, 2003
199
0
Windows is anti-Semitic
(well not really but click on the link about the Wingdings font and death to jews)
link
 

jefhatfield

Retired
Jul 9, 2000
8,803
0
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
 

12ibookg4

macrumors regular
Original poster
Dec 22, 2003
199
0
jefhatfield said:
tbut to try and say they are anti-black or anti-semitic is a stretch
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
 

jefhatfield

Retired
Jul 9, 2000
8,803
0
12ibookg4 said:
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
ms is a little like the evil empire ;)
 

GeeYouEye

macrumors 68000
Dec 9, 2001
1,651
3
State of Denial
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.
 

jenniff

macrumors member
Mar 2, 2004
92
0
Is Chicago, is not Chicago!
an english debate, egads

GeeYouEye said:
It's possibly being overly politically correct in assuming that "blacks" isn't referring to black people.
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."


You're the racist. Should've used African American.
(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. )
 

Mechcozmo

macrumors 603
Jul 17, 2004
5,215
2
12ibookg4 said:
Windows is anti-Semitic
(well not really but click on the link about the Wingdings font and death to jews)
link
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~"
 

iJon

macrumors 604
Feb 7, 2002
6,557
36
In other news the sun came up today. I agree with the reader above, too much time on their hands.

jon
 

Sun Baked

macrumors G5
May 19, 2002
14,874
57
Doubtful the application is racist, usually it's the application's users & programmers that are the racists.
 

wordmunger

macrumors 603
Sep 3, 2003
5,125
2
North Carolina
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:
Alex Vernon performed a more controlled analysis of the grammar checkers packaged with both Microsoft Word 2000 and WordPerfect 2000. He analyzed the two programs’ assessment a document containing the thirty-seven most common grammatical and mechanical errors. Microsoft Word was only able to identify ten of the thirty-seven errors. WordPerfect fared slightly better, finding seventeen errors. Even more disappointing is the fact that both Microsoft Word and WordPerfect fail to identify some of the most pernicious student errors, including cross sentence verb errors, where students shift verb tenses from sentence to sentence; misplaced modifiers, which can often obscure meaning; and interrogative sentences. Even when these programs successfully identify an error, their suggested replacement is often grammatically incorrect (Vernon 340). So not only do word processing programs misdirect students by implicitly suggesting that LOCs should be addressed before HOCs, they also offer advice that is more often than not incorrect.
If anyone's interested, I'd be happy to post the whole paper.
 

zelmo

macrumors 603
Jul 3, 2004
5,490
1
Mac since 7.5
12ibookg4 said:
Windows is anti-Semitic
(well not really but click on the link about the Wingdings font and death to jews)
link
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!)?