I was in Europe a few weeks ago to attend a Natural Language Processing (TALN) Conference in Belgium where I gave a speech on our latest French grammar and spelling checkers for Office. While I was there, I was interviewed by a journalist from La Libre Belgique, who was covering a televised spelling competition organized by this Belgian newspaper and by the RTBF TV channel. He wrote a few lines about our new French proofing tools, noting that there had been very significant improvements recently and that the new version of the French spell-checker has 74% fewer false flags. He added that the latest improvements concerned compound words, but also feminine job titles and neologisms (like blog, for instance). He added that the grammar checker has also improved a lot and that there is a better handling of auxiliaries and past participle agreements. The journalist also alluded to contextual spellers, but I’ll talk about this very soon in the framework of our forthcoming 2007 Microsoft Office system…

 

Just after the congress, I visited our subsidiary in Paris to talk about our proofing tools. I was interviewed by our French colleagues from the Public Sector division and they decided to post this interview on their web site because they felt it could interest French civil servants and information workers in administrations. We all know that the linguistic quality of documents produced in ministries and administrations is crucial and our tools can really help a lot. They asked me to give very specific examples of difficult linguistic issues in French where we can definitely help civil servants (many people have problems with infinitives vs. past participles, with hyphenated forms, with the distinction between “a” and “à”, with the spelling of proper names like de Villepin or Sarkozy, or with the plural forms of compound nouns like “porte-documents”, “lance-missiles” or “tire-laits”… and everyone who knows a bit of French knows that this list is long).

 

I also talked about other linguistic tools which interest civil servants (and basically any Office user who authors documents, in fact), like the possibility of accessing the Encarta monolingual (French and English) dictionaries directly from the Office reference pane (right-click on a word and select the Look-up function to access the tens of thousands of definitions and examples included in these dictionaries…).

 

You can read this interview here:

http://www.microsoft.com/france/secteurpublic/interview_fontenelle.mspx

 

Enjoy... et bonne lecture!

 

Thierry Fontenelle

Microsoft Speech & Natural Language group