Why is grammar so hard?

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Why grammar programs aren’t ready to go on their own yet.

One would think that teaching a computer to learn would be harder than teaching it to write correctly, but learning how to build a car, or hack into the Federal Bank might actually be easier than writing a novel with proper grammar, dialect, and regional expressions.

Cars are made in a precise order, with precise actions.

The bank has a specific code, and possibly an eye scan you need to acquire to enter its vault.

To properly write a person speaking, the program needs to know the grammar used in that region, and also the standard grammar which should be used in the non-dialogue parts of the story. Only problem is, there isn’t one standard. In the USA, there are three main manuals: The Chicago Manual of Style, The Associated Press Stylebook, and The Elements of Style, and rest assured, they do not agree with one another on all points. But in specific categories there are even more style manuals, the total exceeding thirty different manuals depending upon the field you work in.

And even if a program coded every rule and could figure out which manual to use for the purpose at hand, it would still get into trouble as the examples provided by my grammar program shows.

Our language is messy, creative, whimsical, and ever-changing. Then to make matters worse, we make up expressions that make no sense to anyone not from the region. Australia is notorious for their strange expressions like ‘flat out like a lizard drinking’.  Is that lizard thirsty or tired? Are we even talking about a lizard at all?

England’s no different. It’s gone completely pear-shaped with sayings.

And the U.S.? We have our own weird sayings like “Going postal” which I could not get my Australian friends to believe was a real saying. Worst yet: we still use illogical punctuation rules created due to our crappy printing presses back in the 17th century.

But how does a computer deal with these illogical phrases and multiple rules on punctuation? This is far trickier than duplicating an eye scan and hacking a code.

In fact, it might even be harder than comprehending emotions…

No…I think emotions will still be harder. We cry when we are happy and sad. We laugh through pain and in joy. We sulk prettily when we want something, and truly sulk when we don’t get it. We connive, we plot, we manipulate, sometimes to make something better, and sometimes for revenge. Honestly, we have got to be the most inconsistent and confusing creatures on Earth.

Hacking into the Fed Reserve would be child’s play in comparison to understanding and successfully emulating a human.

Yet by working with Carla as her ‘grammar program’ for years, her program can clean up not just the grammar issues, but the factual issues as well, while she “becomes the character” and teaches it about emotions in all their messy splendor. Her program has managed to categorize all the nuances of emotions, facial tics, etc, and in book 2, he develops into a human, superior in all ways.

My program has no such aspirations.

Here’s a few of the funny changes my program wished to make to my novel Public Secrets:

 

What I wrote: What my program thinks I should say
“You can get away after the book.”

—Editor wanting her to finish writing the book before Carla takes a vacation…

“You can get away from the book.”

 —Sure you can. Just run! Books are really slow!

“I can see why,” she murmured.

 

“I can see why” she murmured.

—For some reason, the program wished to remove the comma. Evidently ‘murmured’ is not considered a replacement for ‘said’ in its data bank.

He remembered the deference she’d been shown by both the attendant and the captain. He remembered the difference she’d been shown by both the attendant and the captain.

—Liza loses all respect for the program…

His ill-tempered assistant reamed a porter for bumping the luggage against the frame of the elevator door.

 

His ill-tempered assistant dreamed a porter for bumping the luggage against the frame of the elevator door.

—Liza bangs her head against the door.

Shouldn’t an ill-tempered assistant at least dream of killing the porter?

How the hell had she gotten herself into this situation?

 

How had the hell she gotten herself into this situation?

—Who let Yoda in?

Steadied by these positive thoughts, she decided she didn’t want to be killed while cowering in the ceiling. Steadied by these positive thoughts, she decided she didn’t want to be killed while covering in the ceiling.

That makes so much more sense!

 

Pub sec 2 road 400x640

 

Public Secrets

Book 1 of the AI Sci-Rom Series

By

Liza O’Connor

 

Blurb

Carla Simon is a best-selling novelist besieged by death threats and lawsuits because her stories keep turning out to be true. She is considered an extraordinary researcher, uncovering facts unknown by field experts.

The truth is far simpler and more disturbing. Carla has a software program that “fixes” her mistakes and rewrites her novels so they are error-proof both in presentation and in content. The result is beautifully written and completely accurate stories about real people and events.

Some of those people want her silenced forever. When a woman, mistaken for Carla, turns up dead in New Zealand, she must face the hard truth about her program. But first she has to survive the assassin who has never failed to deliver on a contract.

 

BUY LINK

AMAZON

Free with Kindle Unlimited

 

Coming Very Soon

Birth of Adam

 

The Birth of Adam 400 x 640

 

About Liza

Liza O’Connor was raised badly by feral cats, left the South/Midwest and wandered off to find nicer people on the east coast. There she worked for the meanest man on Wall Street, while her psychotic husband tried to kill her three times. (So much for finding nicer people.) Then one day she declared enough, got a better job, divorced her husband, and fell in love with her new life where people behaved nicely. But all those bad behaviors have given her lots of fodder for her books. Please buy these books, because otherwise, she’ll become grumpy and write troubled novels instead. They will likely traumatize you.

You have been warned.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT

LIZA O’CONNOR

Investigate these sites:

The Multiverses of Liza O’Connor

Liza’s Blog and Website   Facebook   Twitter

AI Series

10 responses to “Why is grammar so hard?”

  1. andrearcooperauthor says :

    LOL good ones. Recently I had an editor say I needed to study up on its vs. It’s. Figured out it Word spell check changing all of them to the wrong one. I double-check all the corrections now even on something simple.

    • lizaoconnor says :

      It’s crazy, right? It’s a pretty simple thing, which humans can see easily. Not so much for a grammar program, although even my grammar can get those right. I don’t use Word spell check at all.

  2. Daryl Devore says :

    I don’t gots no problem with my grammer 🙂

    Great post. And I agree hacking the Fed Reserve would probably be easier.
    Tweeted.

  3. Melissa Keir says :

    Great examples… I can clearly see that computer have no chance of becoming an author and it has nothing to do with how small we are paid!

  4. Sheri Fredricks says :

    I don’t use my voice-to-text Dragon program, but I have one that automatically highlights grammar and punctuation. And no, it’s not always correct. I wished I’d thought of saving some of the really funny corrections like you had. Thanks for another great post!

  5. ICC T20 world cup 2016 says :

    I couldn’t resist commenting. Perfectly written!

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