Prototype of a second language writing tool for French speakers writing in English
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 01 September 1996
Language tools that help people with their writing are now usually included in today's word processors. Although these various tools provide increasing support to native speakers of a language, they are much less useful to non-native speakers who are writing in their second language (e.g. French speakers writing in English). Real errors may go undetected and potential errors or non-errors that are flagged by the system may be taken to be genuine errors by the non-native speaker. In this paper, we present the prototype of an English writing tool which is aimed at helping speakers of French write in English. We first discuss the kind of problems non-native speakers have when writing in a second language. We then explain how we collected a corpus of errors which we used to build a typology of errors needed in the various stages of the project. This is followed by an overview of the prototype which contains a number of writing aids (dictionaries, on-line grammar helps, verb conjugator, etc.) and two checking tools: a problem word highlighter which lists all the potentially difficult words that cannot be dealt with correctly by the system (false friends, confusions, etc.) and a grammar checker which detects and corrects morphological and syntactic errors. We describe in detail the automata formalism we use to extract linguistic information, test syntactic environments and detect and correct errors. Finally, we present a first evaluation of the correction capacity of our grammar checker as compared to that of commercially available systems.
- Research Article
- 1997 Cambridge University Press