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Microsoft

Microsoft Edits English 656

jbarr writes "An article in the 23-Oct-2000 issue of the New York Times (free reg blah blah blah) talks about how Microsoft has eliminated words from its thesaurus so as to "not suggest words that may have offensive uses or provide offensive definitions for any words". Entering a word like "idiot" yields no hits in Word 2000 unlike the numerous hits in Word 97." I don't think there's anything evil here, but it sure is funny.
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Microsoft Edits English

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  • 1984 Anyone? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pilchie ( 869 ) on Friday October 26, 2001 @09:46AM (#2483105) Homepage
    Nothing evil here. Have you ever read 1984?

    Restricting language is _very_ evil.
    • Oh, relax. Microsoft is not constraining your ability to use any words you want. They're just tailoring their reference materials to match the sensibilities of their audience.

      They're doing it for the same reason that dictionaries and thesauri targeted at school children exclude the very same words. You want an unabridged reference? Fine. Buy one.

      Sheesh.
      • They're doing it for the same reason that dictionaries and thesauri targeted at school children exclude the very same words. You want an unabridged reference? Fine. Buy one.

        The flip side of that is, you want a censored reference, fine, buy from Microsoft.

        I see your point.
    • Is this their solution to bloatware? They sole purpose of a thesaurus is to enhance one's vocabulary not limit it. What's next on their agenda, making it impossible to change the desktop colours unless they are coordinated? Is something in the works with Martha Stewart?
    • Re:1984 Anyone? (Score:3, Redundant)

      by danheskett ( 178529 )
      Restricting language is _very_ evil.

      Are you serious? You think this restricting language? Are you high?

      Can't see what this is really about? People freak out at MS about any little thing - remember the whole Webdings thing? The letters NYC produced some symbols that seemed to suggest some wierd "disturbing" things. I mean, sure it was co-incidence, but they took a literal beating about it for a few weeks way back.

      So whats the response? Fix it. The newer versions of symbols fonts have positive happy messages when you type in NYC. You get a picture of an eye, a heart, and the big apple.

      The same thing is happening here. Do you really think MS cares about slurring morons and dunces? No, I doubt it. But you know the some organization and special interest group has complained time and time again that MS puts down a certain group by including words in the dictionary/thesarus.

      By somehow claiming that thsi is "restricting language" is silly and deceptive. Will Word not allow you to type these words in? Does it edit it out and send a report to the government about your bad attitude? No, it doesn't. It doesn't do anything like that. All it does is not provide certain suggestions for certain words in certain circumstances - for the exact reason of political correctness.

      Let me ask you this:

      If I type in "Jew" and use the thesarus should it provide "kike" or "mud-person"? Or how about if I put in "white" should it fill in "trailer-trash" or "cracker"? How about if I put in "gay" - how about "ass-master" or "faggot". Blacks? How about "nigger" or "one of those them there coloreds".

      Are those cases censored? Those all mean the same thing, do they not? They all have the same meanings, don't they? Whats the big deal, right? We should just give all cases of all words no matter what? Anything else is "1984" right?
      • Re:1984 Anyone? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Cylix ( 55374 )
        Your references have no bearing on the discussion of relevancy. Racial and ethnic slurs go a little further past the line (similar to a tomahawk missile crossing the baltic ocean).

        Idiot and moron are two very commonly accepted forms of speaking disproval. The context which they are used in denotes the strength of the allegation.

        What is deemed offensive is what society deems it as. Those same peers who determine our laws and our values. This is why public nudity is illegal in most places I know, but yet other countries allow public nude beaches (at least topless I've seen). This is because their society deems that not to be offensive.

        In our society few would argue that idiot and moron carry the same strength as saying "Nigger."

        Thus when I say you are an idiot for using such drstic comparisonss, I have not stepped over the line in my use of language.

        If I had said you were a fucking moron for using such drastic comparisons, then I would have stepped over the line.

        I'm not sure of the impact that will occurr because microsoft chooses to drop a few words from its thesauras. Perhaps the wrong is where a corporation or smaller entity is choosing the path society should take. I'll remind you, MS has been found to be a monopoly. As such they are treated differently then other entities. They have more resources, leverage, and ability to cause great harm then other organizations. This really means they should be watched a great deal more carefully then the rest.

        • This is why public nudity is illegal in most places I know, but yet other countries allow public nude beaches (at least topless I've seen).

          Yeah what's with you guys and nudity? I love going to beaches in sydney and seeing sexy topless women all over the place. It's great! Being Australian rocks!
      • Re:1984 Anyone? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by foobar104 ( 206452 )
        We should just give all cases of all words no matter what?

        I think the point is that it's Microsoft doing the choosing. We have established, respected organizations that make dictionaries and thesaur... thes... uh, dictionaries, just dictionaries.

        Anyway, my point is that Microsoft really should just license Webster's or the OED or something and stop making these kinds of decisions.
      • Can't see what this is really about? People freak out at MS about any little thing - remember the whole Webdings thing? The letters NYC produced some symbols that seemed to suggest some wierd "disturbing" things. I mean, sure it was co-incidence, but they took a literal beating about it for a few weeks way back.
        So whats the response? Fix it. The newer versions of symbols fonts have positive happy messages when you type in NYC. You get a picture of an eye, a heart, and the big apple.


        Are you sure you don't mean WingDings?
        When i type NYC with WingDings, i get: a skull and bones, something that looks like the star of david and a bomb??? I'm not kidding either! I've upgraded to the latest versions of about everything with win2000pro.
      • Microsoft's dictionary does not include the many and varied members of the animal kingdom whose names begin with "Nigger". They apply a proscriptive definition rather than descriptive (they tell you what you should think about a word, not what it means) in several cases.

        If I put in words into a Thesaurus, yes I would expect to get words that could be considered offensive, hell have a "parent filter" on the thing if you want but don't start ruling out words you don't like. This is a terrible thing, many words that are offensive in the US might not be in the UK, and vice versa.

        An example....

        Fanny means "bottom" or "ass" in the US
        Fanny means "Vagina" in the UK

        Ban this because is _some_ countries it could be offensive, or to certain groups it might be ?

        Well in that case I declare that in my version of English the words "Operating", "System", "Windows" and "Traffic light" are deeply offensive. My personal religious cult also are deeply offended by all synonmys of the word "food".

        Censoring words is the first step in censoring sentences.
        • Microsoft's dictionary does not include the many and varied members of the animal kingdom whose names begin with "Nigger". They apply a proscriptive definition rather than descriptive (they tell you what you should think about a word, not what it means) in several cases.

          Sounds very much par for the course with political correctness.
          Wonder if after XP we will be getting PC...
      • Can't see what this is really about? People freak out at MS about any little thing - remember the whole Webdings thing? The letters NYC produced some symbols that seemed to suggest some wierd "disturbing" things. I mean, sure it was co-incidence, but they took a literal beating about it for a few weeks way back.

        Read your own words again.

        Can you honestly not even hazard a guess as to why people reacte so strongly when msoft does something? They control without any intervention the operating system that powers 89% of the worlds computers. What other major system do you know in the world that is controlled by a single corporate entity... one that has no real controls placed on it by a goverment? If msoft decides a word doesn't exist, then it doesn't exist on every installation of Word. When Word becomes completely integrated into the OS then it won't exist on 89% of the world's computers. People get in such a hissy over msoft's practices because the people that should be (the goverment) isn't doing anything about it.

        The goverment in the US regulates everything else that has such a strong impact on our economy, yet the sole super power in the computing world is basically untouchable.
      • I agree with you for the most part, removing these words isn't nearly the same as censorship, but...

        Given the choice, I really would like my thesaurus to come up with the full selection of words. If I type in "Black" it should produce "African", "nigger", "negro", "colored", etc. with a note explaining the connotation of each word. The thesaurus isn't there to tell me what I mean, it's there to help me find the word that matches what I'd like to say.

        In some contexts it's actually very important. A foreigner may not know which words are derogatory and which aren't (it's pretty arbitrary, after all). A good thesaurus can be a life saver in such cases.


      • but they took a literal beating about it for a few weeks way back

        Really? a literal beating? I would have loved to have seen that. On Pay-Per-View, even.

      • Do you really think MS cares about slurring morons and dunces?

        Ah! Thanks! Those were the words I was looking for.
      • As far as the wingding fonts goes, and in case anyone cares, here's what you get

        This is from Windows XP, btw:

        NYC in webdings: eye, heart, buildings (I love buildings?)

        NYC in wingdings: skull and crossbones, Star of David, thumbs up symbol

        There are also two more "wingdings" fonts, WingDings 2 and WingDings 3, but I wouldn't know how to describe some of the symbols that come up for those.
        • > There are also two more "wingdings" fonts,
          > WingDings 2 and WingDings 3, but I wouldn't know
          > how to describe some of the symbols that come up
          > for those.

          So you're saying that when you type letters using WingDings 2 and 3, you get an image that is unspeakable?

          My God, it's worse than we thought!
    • Really, who's deciding what's "offensive"? *I* didn't complain that this word processor enabled me or someone else to type "bad things", why should I have to suffer for it?

      While this only applies in the theoretical world where I use Word and don't have an adequate vocabulary, I do have to suport MS Office for our coporate dullards who don't understand that other programs are actually *easier* to use and produce more portable docs. I'd like them to have the ability to select alternative ways of stating that "our sys admin is an arsehole", but without a complete thesaurus, how will they be able to do that? They'll have to go on and on calling me "arsehole", and the lack of variety will make me a Sad Panda(TM).
    • by rve ( 4436 )
      Remember the incident with the monkey bars?

      One of the hits seaching for monkey was this picture of monkey bars, featuring a black family playing with them. This got Microsoft sued for racism.
    • The issue here is really the implications of a corporate, lowest-common-denominator, approach as applied to the single most widely used word processing tool. Can you still use a *shudder* hard copy thesaurus as you write, absolutely. How many people do so? So when a company guts a tool that is widely used to add depth and breadth to countless users prose, it does have bad implications.

      The written word is a profoundly powerful tool. This move potentially removes a means for many to "find their voice," which is to say, to find the word that *truly* voices their intent. VI Lenin said the following about the power of language, it is, I think, apropos:

      Why should freedom of speech and freedom of the press be allowed? Why should a government which is doing what it believes to be right allow itself to be criticized? It would not allow opposition by lethal weapons. Ideas are much more fatal things than guns. Why should a man be allowed to buy a printing press and disseminate pernicious opinions calculated to embarrass the government?

      I remember the day when you bought a dictionary/thesaurus as a third party add on for the word processor of your choice. I stopped buying them when those that were included were as strong as what I could get elsewhere. Perhaps it is time to rethink that decision.

      /rootrot
    • by Erris ( 531066 )
      M$ is Optimizing Standard English, goodSpeak. By simplifying the word choices available, all people will be able to utilize it equally well. Words like monopoly, and others based on the limiting mono stem are inherently limiting and negative. Samewise, anti-competitive should be replaced by competitive, plus. There are many other words that are negative and serve no good purpose that must be removed. In the end, you have duck speak which is good when it agrees with you and bad when it does not. The content never changes.

      This is all part of the effort to end the information anarchy. You see, when people know to much they don't always do what you want them too. For this reason, independent publications will have to stop so that we can be sure of what the truth is. All of these confilicting opinions are just too much for the average person to sort out.

      With M$ in control, everything will be easier and more fun.

    • Am I the only one who remembers a while back when a certain african american gentelman "accidently" mispelled Niger (adding an extra 'g') and sued Microsoft over the distress this event caused him? So far as I know his case was thrown out, I haven't been inclined to look for an old news story. But now Microsoft will never have to worry about this kind of thing again, and won't need to worry about someone hitting lawsuit lotto jackpot on their dime (at least as far as this story is concerned).

      Every now and then, being well read refers to the newspapers in your basement and not the books on your shelf.
    • Yeah right. Like anybody who publishes ANY thesaurus, dictionary or encyclopedia doesn't have the right to edit out whatever they want. Get a brain.

  • Yes, but... (Score:2, Funny)

    by ralmeida ( 106461 )
    ...does it suggest "Windows" as and alternative to "Linux"?
  • So, now... (Score:2, Funny)

    by RLiegh ( 247921 )
    Micro$oft is not only in bed w/ the PC makers; but they're also making PC themselves....
  • by ekrout ( 139379 ) on Friday October 26, 2001 @09:49AM (#2483124) Journal
    I believe that they have simply seeded the synonym algorithm for every "curse word" with a random value for the subscript of an array of every M$FT employee since the company's inception. Therefore, if you type in "f*ckhead", Steve Ballmer might be a suggested replacement. Similarly, "assh*le" is often times replaced by "William H. Gates" in the new Office XP. Just don't ask for a replacement for "naked clippy". ;-)
    • Just don't ask for a replacement for "naked clippy". ;-)

      I just tried this and - easter eggs of easter eggs - got an 800x600 JPEG of Melinda French/Gates on her wedding night. She was reading "Visual Basic for Dummies".
  • "The basic tool for manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you control the meaning of a word, you control the persons who have to use it" - Philip K. Dick

    Not that I think there's some grand conspiracy here, but it's a good quote.

  • Paranioa? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Malorian ( 520615 ) on Friday October 26, 2001 @09:51AM (#2483139)
    Greetings friend citizen, the computer is your friend. Why do you want to use such words? Are you unhappy? **BzzRRRRtttt**
    • Trust the computer. The computer knows all. The computer is right.
  • Some people really hate them registrations..

    October 23, 2001

    Bowdlerized by Microsoft
    By MARK GOLDBLATT


    I was hard at the grindstone, crusading against hypocrisy and chaos, armed with my laptop and Microsoft Word 2000. I'd just typed: "Only a fool would believe." But "fool" did not seem right. So I hit Shift-F7 to call up the thesaurus. The lone synonym that Word provided was a verb: trick.

    Where were the nouns? Where was idiot? I typed "idiot," hit Shift-F7, and got the message "not found." Then I tried goon. Again, not found. No luck with ninny, nincompoop or numbskull. Or with nitwit, halfwit, dimwit or twit. Or dullard, dunce or dolt.

    "Jerk" called up yank, jolt, tug and twitch. "Dummy" produced mannequin and copy -- still not what I was looking for.

    So I phoned a friend who also uses Word and asked him to test the phenomenon. He typed "fool," hit Shift-F7 -- and was provided a hearty menu of synonyms that included not just idiot and ninny, but such exotics as dunderhead and ignoramus. We realized the difference: He was working with Word 97, not the Word 2000 I was using.

    Concluding that I had found a glitch in the updated version of Microsoft Word, I decided to inform Microsoft. I called and asked to speak to Bill Gates, but was directed to a cheerful person named Tim.

    Tim transferred me to Kate, also cheerful, who promised to look into the matter. Several days later, Kate sent me an e-mail message with an explanation: "Microsoft's approach regarding the spell checker dictionary and thesaurus is to not suggest words that may have offensive uses or provide offensive definitions for any words. The dictionary and spell checker is updated with each release of Office to ensure that the tools reflect current social and cultural environments."

    Was the world's foremost software designer worried about offending dullards, dunces and dolts? Are there actually people out there who identify themselves that way? Even if so, you wouldn't think they'd represent Microsoft's target demographic. More troubling, if an acute sensitivity to people's feelings had winnowed down Word 2000's thesaurus options, what changes loomed in the future? Word 2000 already changes "thier" to "their" as I type. Would the next generation evaporate "moron" from the screen the moment it appeared?

    But maybe this isn't oversensitivity. Maybe it is what postmodernists call erasure: since language creates reality, if we erase every noun connoting below-average intelligence, the world instantly becomes a smarter place.

    Now, if only Microsoft would erase "hypocrisy" and "chaos" . . . .

    Mark Goldblatt, who teaches writing at the Fashion Institute of Technology, writes frequently about politics. He is the author of the forthcoming "Africa Speaks," a novel.
  • by OblongPlatypus ( 233746 ) on Friday October 26, 2001 @09:54AM (#2483169)
    From an unedited thesaurus:

    Idiot [noun]: ass, fool, imbecile, jackass, mooncalf, moron, nincompoop, ninny, nitwit, simple, simpleton, softhead, tomfool. Informal: dope, gander, goose. Slang: cretin, ding-dong, dip, goof, jerk, nerd, schmo, schmuck, turkey

    Slashdot: News for Idiots. Stuff that matters.
    • Now you see, that is exactly why those nincompoops at Microsoft shouldn't have pulled off this jackass stunt. Only an imbecile would be simple as to think that removing words from a thesaurus is a good idea! The rest of us (and that doesn't include you, fool) know that in responding to a cretinous Usenet or Slashdot post, one needs to be able to flame the moron using offensive words of the highest quality!
  • "Was the world's foremost software designer worried about offending dullards, dunces and dolts? Are there actually people out there who identify themselves that way? Even if so, you wouldn't think they'd represent Microsoft's target demographic."

    You wouldn't?
  • by chris.bitmead ( 24598 ) on Friday October 26, 2001 @09:55AM (#2483178)
    You're not allowed to use MS products to criticise Microsoft, and extensive market research determined that the most common use of these terms was in relation to Microsoft and Bill Gates.
  • Before:
    I can't for the life of me understand why Microsofts monopoly still exists.
    After:
    I shall throw down my life for the glory of Microsoft empires existance!
  • I wonder if they have removed the words Monopoly, Illegal, or Stupidity?

    What about other phrases, such as Civil Rights, or Consumer Rights? How about the word Profits, since MS is certainly not worrying about those any more?

    This is just another case of where being Politically Correct drives folks to the point of insanity.

  • Great! (Score:3, Funny)

    by garoush ( 111257 ) on Friday October 26, 2001 @09:58AM (#2483194) Homepage
    All those book authors who write books using MS Word 2000 are no longer able to write books titled: "XYZ for Dummies/idiots".

    For once, MS has done the right thing.
  • This has got to be good ammunition which the DOJ and the state Attorney Generals can use. What a wonderful way to describe how Microsoft can single-handledly extend it's monopoly from office products into, stagger, something truley outstanding -- a monopoly on the definition of the English language. If Microsoft can do this with English, imagine what I can do to anything else it desires...
    • This has got to be good ammunition which the DOJ and the state Attorney Generals can use.

      Actually, no. It just shows that in a free world a business can modify its product as it sees fit. MS haven't modified English (well, American actually.. but lets not go there), they've modified a set of bytes that makes up the 'dictionary' included in their Office product. They haven't made it illegal to use these words. Don't be so melodramatic.
  • *frightened, smiling broadly and nodding head at monitor*

    I don't know about you. but i like the fact that someone has cleaned up the language a bit. what with all the rudeness i see on television. maybe if the taliban had a nice big brother to look into what they were doing and reading, well there wouldn't be so much of this unpleasentness in euroasia.

    I feel liberated by not having to think so much about what is happening with the prolitarians and haveing someone doing my thinking for me. Civil liberties and freedom of speech only confuse people and get them into trouble...

    When I purchased my copy of XP it came with a webcam/dongle with the instructions, "Brother Bill wants to watch you watching XP".

    {end sarcasm}

    jesus h knickers... not that Apple is the peoples computer, but when they made the commercial of that chick whipping the hammer at the "telescreen" they eluded it was IBM that was the vile BB.

    I hope they take this to more absurd extremes actually, i really want to see the audacity get silly. Remember, Joe Macarthy would have been called a hero if it wasn't for Roy Cohne to get so ridiculous that the nation would no longer tolerate them.

    • I remember seeing that commercial, from what I understand, the ONE time it was played.

      It seems just a little odd that OS/X is to .1 already, and from what I can see, they've had no advertising geared toward the general public. Maybe it's time to dust off the old hammer commercial. From what I remember, it shouldn't be too tough to retouch the droning geezer into enough of a charicature of Gates to be recognizable, yet not too close so they can avoid a lawsuit.
  • Not only that, a flaw the average Joe can easily grasp. All you have to say is, "StarOffice (or other OSS product you proselytize) has a full English dictionary and thesaurus. Unlike Microsoft Word."

    Anyone else think this will matter to people who have Real Work (tm) to do?

    -Kasreyn

  • Not a good move (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Clovert Agent ( 87154 ) on Friday October 26, 2001 @10:21AM (#2483316)
    This is not a good idea, for at least two reasons that strike me as being so obvious I can't believe the marketing idio..er..moro..um..people at Microsoft didn't consider it.
    Firstly, where's the accountability? Who's making the decision about which words to omit, and which to include? Do we really want to trust Microsoft to make decisions on our behalf regarding our use of language? Not really. This is not going to do much to raise trust in MS, although it probably won't do much to lower it either. It's a small enough fringe issue that most people will never know, which is part of why it's dangerous.
    Second, there's the issue of market appeal. Office is supposed to be a writing (etc) tool for professionals. But writing professionals _need_ tools such as thesauri, dictionaries and the like, and we rely on them to be comprehensive. A thesaurus that gives me only a limited number of options is of very limited worth. Sometimes I need to use words that some people might find offensive.
    This strikes me as an absurd move on the part of Microsoft; they're dabbling in an area where they have no expertise, making decisions for which they are unqualified. It's not like they would have got any criticism for leaving un-PC terms in the damn thesaurus. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
    • Do we really want to trust Microsoft to make decisions on our behalf regarding our use of language? Not really.

      Bzzt. Wrong. That is exactly what you do when you use a thesaurus. You give another, supposed authority, control over your choice of words because you do not feel that your grasp of the language is comprehensive enough. Most professionals authors accept that there are others who know more about the language than themselves, and thus defer to the more authoritative source.

      That being said, this news should simply be a data point in deciding if M$' online thesaurus is as authoritative as something like Webster's.

  • LANGUAGE, n.
    The music with which we charm the serpents guarding another's treasure.

    Perfectly in character for Msft.
  • In todays economy they are just tryint to save employees by cutting back on words intstead. They had to decite what words to no longer employ and they decided that hateful words are the ones that had to go. They are just saving jobs. :)
  • This is why this is important - on my copy of Office I get the following:
    radical
    fanatic
    activist
    revolutionary
    rebel
    moderate (Antonym)

    and this is correct ( although it might be noted it excludes state terrorism ). What will Word 2002 do I wonder, will all words that mean activist and fanatic be replaced by 'criminal','anti-American' and all the rest ?
  • Nobody is forced to use M$ software. It's 1984 if we lose choice entirely. If people want to use such limited and biased word processors, it's their choice. But I guess 10^n flies can't be wrong...
    • I am only not forced to use MS software because I can get away with telling people to print out copies of Word docs that they send me for me.

      Were I not quite so senior here, both in terms of position and length of service, with such understanding colleagues, I may well not get away with it.
      No-one forced to use MS software? Tell that to the people who receive multiple Word and Excel documents every day from clients.

      10^n flies can be wrong, but they can also effectively remove any choice you may once have ahd.

      Cheers,

      Tim
      • Re:Cut the 1984 crap (Score:2, Informative)

        by jonesvery ( 121897 )
        I am only not forced to use MS software because I can get away with telling people to print out copies of Word docs that they send me for me

        Actually, OpenOffice does a pretty reasonable job of dealing with Word documents...available for Windows as well as Linux; if you're on a mac, icWord will allow you to view and print (but not edit) Word documents, or the program MacLink plus will allow you translate documents back and forth between MS Word and AppleWorks format.

        I'd get pretty tired of having to deal with printouts, myself...there are other options available to you...

  • I've also noticed that the general quality of the Office 2000 thesaurus in general to be absolutely different from 97's. The Office 97 thesaurus is much better in my experience, but for some words, 2000 is better! It's a pain in the neck.

    For example, the word "emptiness."
    Office 2000 gives the meanings "bareness" and "meaninglessness." Office 97 gives the meaning "void." (Each of these meanings has a list of synonyms associated with them.) There is absolutely no common ground between these two versions. It would make sense if Office 2000 would have all three, but that would make too much sense, wouldn't it?

    I don't have Office XP (no new features, bloody licensing, etc) so I can't comment on the quality of the thesaurus in there.

    I'm seriously thinking about trying to shoehorn in the 97 thesaurus into 2000 to see what happens.

    Ian
  • and ...? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Mr_Silver ( 213637 ) on Friday October 26, 2001 @10:41AM (#2483440)
    So what? Americans have been editing the English language for centuries now! :)
  • * Monopoly
    * Competition
    * Streamlined (as in code)
    * Stability
    * Useability
    * Cheesy poofs

    (oh relax, the above is a joke)
  • Microsoft's reply, from the article:

    "Microsoft's approach regarding the spell checker dictionary and thesaurus is to not suggest words that may have offensive uses or provide offensive definitions for any words. The dictionary and spell checker is updated with each release of Office to ensure that the tools reflect current social and cultural environments."

    Now there's a scary precedent! It's hard enough to come up with a consistent view of what's offensive. What's fine by me might be offensive to my neighbor. And when you are forced to "reflect current social and cultural environments", making sure you offend no one in those environments, you wind up with a lowest-common denominator effect. It's like the difference between broadcast TV and HBO. HBO can show "The Sopranos" but broadcast TV cannot without offending the advertisers who in turn don't want to offend the "current social environment" of the lowest-common denominator.

    Fortunately, this is merely one product from one company, and is not yet the actual dictionary. Unfortunately, this one product totally dominates the marketplace. Scarily, Microsoft also makes a dictionary...
  • No, I am not starting yet another "Big Brother" melodramatic rant, I am talking about the next Microsoft "News" post to appear on Slashdot. I guess it has gotten to the point where MS can do nothing without it generating an article and the accomponying 500 "Microsoft is Pure Evil(tm)" replies. What will be the next "news" article to show up?

    -------------

    Microsoft changes "Windows Default" colors from Blue to Green

    They Should be Broken UP! (Score: 5, Insightful)

    by Monopoly Hunter (billissatan 'at' hushmail.com) on 7:47 Friday 26 October 2001

    This is exaclty the reason that the DOJ should step in an break them up. By changing the default WinBlows color scheme they, because of their desktop monopoly, effectivly eliminating the color Blue from existance. Now, when I wake up in the morning to watch the sunrise, no longer will I see a beautiful blue sky, but some ugly green piece of crap sky the Micro$losh has forced upon us. Don't let this happen -- call your local representative NOW and inform them of what Micro$loth is trying to do to the American people.

    --------------

    Not to diminish any of the crap that Microsoft has done and continues to get away with, but I we start ranting and raving about every little change that they make, then nobody is going to listen.

  • the "archive" in place of the www trick no longer works, and IIRC neither does the slashdot2001 (was that the login/pass?).

    At any rate this quote made me smile:
    We realized the difference: He was working with Word 97, not the Word 2000 I was using.

    Hence the saying "Less is more".

    I wonder if you typed that phrase into word 2000/XP if it would suggest "you should upgrade, then".

    Typing in Thesaurus/dictionary.microsoft.com into future version of word will say "no suggestions" but, by the same token, typing in Thesaurus/dictionary.slasdot.org will say "not found".

    Heh, not to worry tho, this comment and others like it will be modded into oblivion because they are funny, but the current usage for funny is "overrated"...

    Yeah, I'm being funny/sarcastic (I need other suggestions...damn, I've got word 2000 on this box), yeah, I'm burning off Karma cause I'm damned if I do, damned if I don't...

    If you are on thin ice, you may as well dance (tappity, tappity, tappity....)

  • I would argue that this is evil. Not in the 1984/newspeak sense described by some, since it's not really an attempt to control people via language, it's a classic corporate lawyer thing to do. Corporate lawyers get paid to think of all the ways that companies can get into trouble and prevent it. We have seen in the past, when word processors offer stupid [idiotic, moronic, asinine] suggestions for word replacements, some smart-assed journalist writes a story and the company looks bad. Clearly, from the lawyers point of view, the best solution is to simply eliminate the possibility altogether.

    If you've worked at a large corporation, you'll often discover that many of the inanities of corporate life arise not from pointy-haired bosses directly, but from "guidelines" that were created and put into place by PHBs in consultation with risk-averse lawyers. One thing this shows is that Microsoft is actually becoming IBM, the thing it has always feared and proof that it too will eventually become a dinosaur and die of irrelevance.

    The reason that this is evil, however, is that until Microsoft dies, they are still a monopoly, and most non-technicalusers are not aware of choices other than Windows, Word, Excel, etc. on the desktop. Or, just as likely, I need to use them for compatibility with others. Therefore, these people are now going to find that computers and technology are less useful to them. There's no reason I should have to have a paper dictionary and thesarus by my desk, but if I use Word, it appears that I will have to anyway. That makes the computer less useful and is therefor evil.

  • Microsoft has simply determined that, if you need to use a computer thesaurus to insult someone, you're better off not bothering, or just using the words you can come up with.
  • They eliminate "potentially offensive" words like "idiot" in case somebody tries to use Word2000 write a review of a Microsoft product.

  • by bgarcia ( 33222 ) on Friday October 26, 2001 @12:01PM (#2483937) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft Edits English
    Just be glad that CmdrTaco doesn't have that sort of power.
  • This was probably in response to an earlier problem [ncl.ac.uk]:

    "Microsoft apologizes for *offensive* thesaurus errors"

    Microsoft Mexico has an on-line Spanish-language thesaurus that has caused
    quite a stir. For example, the word "Indian" was equated with "man-eater"
    and "savage"; "Western" with "Aryan", "white", and "civilized"; "lesbian"
    with "pervert" and "depraved person". Microsoft Mexico has apologized, and
    is rushing in a language expert from their software development center in
    Ireland. [Source: *The Boston Globe*, 6 July 1996, p.58.]
  • Was the world's foremost software designer worried about offending dullards, dunces and dolts? [...] Even if so, you wouldn't think they'd represent Microsoft's target demographic


    Actually, that sounds about right... ;^)

  • How difficult is it to write a replacement thesaurus/spell checker? Does Microsoft lock customers into Encarta's definitions/spellings?

    Of course, back in the dark ages, grammar checkers, thesauri, and even spell checkers were third party add ons.

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