moodwatcher & other crutches. Was:someone/somebody, etc.

Thomas Paikeday t.paikeday at SYMPATICO.CA
Thu Nov 2 01:32:11 UTC 2000

Thanks, Lynne, for both explanations.

I guess I was too impatient with the style checker (I forget the
trademark) that came with my WordPerfect circa 1985. As for Roget et
al., I'm sure different people have different uses for them or they
wouldn't have become perennial best-sellers.

Generally speaking, I think academics have more time and patience with
these literary tools than working lexicographers like me.

Thanks again.


Lynne Murphy wrote:
> I don't set out to use the moodwatcher, as in putting the message
> through the grammar checker on a word processor; I just leave
> moodwatcher on, so that as I type things, chili peppers show up if
> the "offensiveness" triggers are triggered.  I do this because I find
> it terribly amusing to see how stupid the machine is.  Recently, I
> was writing to a friend about the Ben Lee song "Cigarettes will Kill
> You" and discovered that the words "kill you" together, even with
> quote marks around them and an inanimate subject, merits the highest
> number of chili peppers (three).  It's quite fun.
> For more info on Eudora's moodwatcher and how silly it is, see:
> But, as for word processing grammar checkers, I do use them
> sometimes, but I  customize them to look only for the things I care
> about--i.e., the things I know I need to be careful about in my own
> writing, like long series of phrases of the prepositional nature in
> sentences that I write in  papers that I write for publishers of
> academic publications.  And then there's my overuse of dummy
> subjects.  It is therefore necessary for me to look for "there" and
> "it is" in the editing stage, which is easy to do with a grammar
> checker (or even a find-and-replace mechanism).  Once I work out
> those kinds of problems on the computer, I print the document out and
> give it a real editing.
> Allison Smith's 1993 Illinois dissertation, _Revising process and
> written product: a study of basic and skilled L1 English and ESL
> Writers using computers_, shows that grammar checkers are useful to
> skilled writers, and harmful to basic writers.  I was one of her
> skilled L1 subjects--I hadn't used a grammar checker before, but
> learning to use it for the study taught me how to use it to my
> advantage.
> There's lots of poor thesaurus use out there--especially by unskilled
> writers trying to sound "academic".  I use mine constantly, but this
> is in part because I write about synonymy, and always need new
> examples.  I also use it for semantics exercises for my students
> (give them a few pages of Roget's and have them determine the
> semantic principles underlying its use of entries, paragraph breaks,
> semicolons, and commas).  The thing I find the thesaurus most useful
> for in writing is solving tip-of-the-tongue (or fingers) problems.
> As in "I know there's a better word for this, and I think it starts
> with a D--what is it?"  The problem for basic writers is that they
> use the thesaurus to teach them words ("I don't want to use this word
> again, better find another for the same thing") and don't understand
> the differences among the words.
> With three chili peppers,
> Lynne
> --
> M. Lynne Murphy
> Lecturer in Linguistics
> School of Cognitive and Computing Sciences
> University of Sussex
> Brighton BN1 3AN    UK
> phone:  +44(0)1273-678844
> fax:    +44(0)1273-671320

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