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Contractions - feature request


#1

Currently I must rely on Word’s style settings to highlight (if not search for) contractions. Any chance of adding that feature to the next SE release?

Identifying the inconsistent use of contractions vs. uncontracted word pairs or triplets is a major effort otherwise. When I do ms exchanges with other writers, such casual inconsistency drives me up the wall.

Too, some of my characters make liberal use of contractions, whereas others make a point of avoiding them. Ensuring consistency is important in giving each character a unique voice.


#2

I hadn’t considered this before, but I can see how useful a consistency checker here could be, especially as it’s now easier to run individual checks on dialogue. There would still be manual work in identifying who is doing the talking in each instance, as extracting dialogue by person – something I looked into before – is incredibly difficult to automate.

I’ll look into this is more detail in a couple of weeks.


#3

I hasten to add that I was not asking specifically for detection of contractions (or indeed any other speech trait) on a per-speaker basis. That would be a massive undertaking, complicated by the difficulties in tracking speaker attribution. It’s (or should I say, “it is” :wink:) up to the writer to handle that… for now. Identifying what constitutes a contraction and differentiating them from apostrophed possessives would be challenge enough.

Other features already suggested e.g. detection of sticky clauses, pacing, refinement in speech tag verb detection, (mis)use of different classes of conjunctions would be immediately useful.

SmartEdit keeps getting better! For my part, I’d gladly pay for major version upgrades.


#4

I understand what you mean. Even at its basic level It’s an interesting piece of work.


#5

There’s actually a real solid reason for contraction hunting. People who are new to English, having spent their life talking in some other language, will simply not use contractions. At least for a while. Contractions are not English-specific, but it IS a feature that newcomers have a problem with. French, for example, in it’s contractions, do not merely pick a letter out of the MIDDLE of words, they drop letters at the end. English drops vowels and the odd H. Then changes the hardness of some O’s, but not any I’s. It’s … maddening … to a newcomer to English. And makes learning English as a second language one of the hardest. Heck, our contractions and homonyms are headache-inducing.

I have the remnants of a YA novel involving a Japanese immigrant to our shores. She can’t use contractions at all. Her sister, who was a toddler during the move, uses them mostly. Then there is the latest baby sister, who just now is talking and she follows the middle sister, the only source of contractions she hears. I had … a delightful time … keeping all of THOSE dialog snippets contraction-correct. Wrote 80K before finding out I was missing the teen love aspects of the novel and had to shelve it as unworkable. I’ve never been a girl, let alone a teenage girl constantly crushing on some boy (or girl in our now more enlightened universe). Can’t write what you don’t know (anything about). Argggh. It was a good plot, one that I got approved by the local high school. Even tried recruiting a couple of friends’ kids to be co-authors. Nothing worked and I have a gigantic writing exercise.

Count me in for contraction help. Who knows, I might take another crack at The Switcheroo Assignment.