Saturday, June 23, 2012

Journey from Babel

So, yesterday, things took a turn for the worse.... frame rates back to the old-computer days, everything took forever to load, I was persistently ruthed, teleports kept failing....  "Damn you, SL," I said to myself, "damn you and your unreliable technology... why, it is even making the battery indicator on my laptop drop, now what have LL done to cause that?"

Turns out, in fact, the new laptop actually works a fair bit better if you plug it in.  Ahem.  Never mind.

One of the things I needed to plug it in for was the latest dev version of the official viewer, because I like to keep abreast of the latest developments.  In this case, the latest developments became apparent fairly swiftly, as soon as I started typing, in fact.  Jaggy red lines appeared underneath my typos!  Yes, folks, we have spellchecking.  In both local chat and IMs, yet.

A few tests and fiddles established that, in fact, I have the option of both US and UK English, so I can spell things like "colour" and "theatre" correctly without some post-colonial reproof occurring... and there is a supplementary library of SL-isms, which allows the checker to ignore some common SL words and phrases (though not, apparently, "rezzing").

There are a couple of non-English libraries, too, including Portuguese, which is undoubtedly a boon, given the number of Portuguese and Brazilian visitors I see... and given that they are no better at spelling their language than most English speakers are at ours.

This is, of course, a barrier to communication... because, like a lot of people, I tend to rely on machine translation systems (my French and German are up to snuff, I can get by in Esperanto with luck and a fair wind... but there is little call for Latin in SL).  And machine translators, balky, unreliable and dubiously effective at the best of times, fall utterly to pieces when they hit a word they can't recognize... which includes pretty much every typo that flows from one's unguarded fingers.

I have got to the point, now, where I can read Portuguese, even colloquial and badly spelled Portuguese, with some fluency...  but I'm not yet confident enough to try talking it myself!  So I depend on the translators, and watch my own output like a hawk to make sure they don't choke on any typos or grammatical solecisms.  Being an old-fashioned sort of person, I try to avoid these in any case... but I don't always succeed.  And many Portuguese speakers - the ones I run into, at least - take no more care with their language than the average English speaker.  So... a spellchecker, with non-English options, may be a small step forward in overcoming barriers to understanding.

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