The Grammar Checker for LibreOffice

Until recently, a major element of most modern word processors was missing for LibreOffice in Irish. A grammar checker is available for Microsoft Word, as an extension (for a cost), from Cruinneog. It is based on the pioneering work of Professor Kevin Scannell, of Saint Louis University, Missouri.

Dúrud, curator of the websites scriobh.ie and nascanna.com, has, with the assistance of An Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta, adapted Professor Scannell’s work for LibreOffice*, and has made it publicly available. The work was undertaken by Java developer Ciarán Campbell, of Donegal.

In this example, the grammar checker ("An Gramadóir") recognises that there is an error in the text “den méarchlár”.

The way Grammar Checkers work

Grammar checkers work by comparing target texts to standard texts known to be gramatically correct. They highlight exceptions, and in this way find errors. In particular, they do not operate by checking conformance to the rules of grammar.

Soemtimes the grammar checker we are discussing here proposes corrections, while on other occasions it does not (while still highlighting an exception of some sort). Sometimes the proposal is not correct, but the fact that it finds something is often enough, an indication that something needs attention. It depends on the user to use the feedback wisely.

Of course, the best results are obtained when the text is generally gramatically correct; errors are far easier to spot when the rest of a sentence is correct, as this allows the grammar checker to “tune into” the text. It is a bit like spotting a “fadhb” (i.e. a knot, but also the Irish word for “a problem") in a piece of wood.

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