New software to "Czech" your grammar

Computer users who work with text editors know how helpful but sometimes also annoying the spell and grammar checkers can be. Czech-speaking computer users could so far only have their spelling mistakes checked by the programme. But now new software developed by specialists from the Czech branch of Microsoft with the substantial help of academics from the Institute of the Czech Language will make sure all your commas are in the right place and your nouns agree with your verbs.

Pavla Horakova spoke to Microsoft's Tomas Koska and asked him how the grammar checker will work with the text.

"It will be a green underline. So if there is a grammatical problem with a specific sentence in the Czech language, it will get underlined in a colour and the user will then get a suggestion of the correction. So maybe we will suggest an extra comma there or we will also ask to change some spelling, or for example, if there is a 'y' [at the end of a word form], we may change it into something else."

How long did the programme take to develop?

"It took us five years to develop. We worked in a partnership with the Czech Academy of Sciences and Charles University and it was not an easy task - for all of us. It really took us a long time to come to the correct conclusion of how this software can work together with all the specific rules of the Czech language."

The Czech language is known to be very difficult. What was the biggest challenge in writing the software?

"I think the biggest problem we faced was that the rules of Czech grammar are very complex and they are also very strict. As a software company we would never want the user to have every second or third sentence underlined with some grammatical problem. So the biggest challenge we had was to provide an optimal balance between checking the grammar for its correctness and also not giving the user too much burden with all the underlining and suggestions we would actually give them. So the right balance between what the computer can do and what the user wants, I think, was the major issue for us."

Is the software available to users now and how much space does it take on the hard drive?

"It's a fairly small size of download. It can be downloaded from the Microsoft site. So if you go the site, you will get all the information how you can download this software. Of course, you have to change your language to the Czech language in order to do that."