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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Google Is Not The English Expert Here (And How To Google Specific Sites)

More often than not, folks will search Google for something.  Then they take the result and run with it.

And from what I can tell, folks may actually credit Google for returning accurate results.  That accuracy, including results that are based on grammar.

But the site GrammarBook (GB) sent out an interesting piece today in their newsletter that made me go "Huh?"

It seems that Google does not always return the proper, grammatical response to your searches.

In GB's example,

"...type the word literally into Google.  Here is what you'll find:

1    In a literal manner or sense; exactly: "the driver took it literally when asked to go straight over the traffic circle".

2    Used to acknowledge that something is not literally true but is used for emphasis or to express strong feeling. "

Then GB goes to town on the result, pointing out how definition no. 2 guides us down the road to

"an Orwellian nightmare?"

They point out that Google seems to be redefining words and that who or what ever is running the algorithm of Google does not know the basics of  capitalization or punctuation.

They point out the lack of a capital T in the first result.

They also point out that periods DO NOT go outside of quotation marks.  (Yep, that's a tough one to digest at first... periods, commas and other things stay inside of quote marks.  Even if it looks funny.)

They go into more specific dismantling statements in the article which is worthy.  (Actually, the whole site and newsletter are pretty worthy if you have any inclination to improve your writing on the fly.)

Ah, and then the final stab at educating the end-user, DG says,

"This is the very demographic that produced Google's founders, and most of its employees. These
literally-torturers are the people who make the company profitable.

...

We language watchdogs may not like it, but for Google, showing solidarity with its contemporaries—even to the point of endorsing their ignorance—is a savvy business decision.
"

This site is big enough of an authority to make those entertaining statements.  And it drives home an interesting point.

When I look up definitions, I sometimes take exactly what Google dishes up as the first answer, which would seem to be their own, if GB is on to anything here.

But a better approach, if you're looking for accuracy, is to conduct your web search, and focus it on a literary site by looking for the results from that site a few lines into the page of results.

How To Search A Specific Site for Information

Or, if you know a site you trust, you can conduct your search as follows of just that site:

<search term(s)> site:blahblah.com

Here's an example search you can try.  Hehe...  yes, I'm a bit shameless:

breaking bad site:brusimm.com

What this search format does is focus Google's search on the site you've specified rather than going hog wild and pulling up other noise from around the world that would seem to be distracting and per GB, inaccurate at times!

[ GrammarBook ]

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Hi - sorry for the confirmation but I need to weed the noise from the well intended comments. Thanks for leaving a note... I like the additional input. - Bruce