Spellcheck oddity with the text: "straight and narrow"

Something just occurred in my script after updating to Mojave. It’s not a Scrivener bug alone on my machine.

The text straight and narrow causes a spellcheck error on the word straight.

First, it would be good to know if this my own personal poltergeist. And second, if so, what might be its cause. Otherwise, enjoy!

Screenshot 2018-09-25 at 17.06.44.png

Here’s the text, so that can play along at home:

Yep, this is a lovely new “feature” of Mojave, grr.

I expect they’ll have to revert that, because it’s going to annoy almost every writer on the planet.

The suggested “fix” for the egregious “straight and narrow” is the obviously perfect “strait and narrow”. And now we can’t switch off this nonsense :open_mouth:

Still, at least Apple don’t yet play a sound to bring your attention to their idea of a grammar error. Perhaps next update!

I think Apple’s idea was to warn people of very common mistakes in grammar. Most of the cases I’ve seen are there/their, you’re/your, to/too type things—and you could even argue that kind of stuff is borderline spelling vs grammar. However I don’t think I’ve encountered a single case where the engine was right! I have no idea what it thinks you should have typed here instead of “straight”.

It is definitely separate from grammar checking, as a feature. That uses a green underscore instead of red, and will highlight quite a bit more than (“Did you mean ‘then’?”) the odd frequently misspelled word. And I actually wouldn’t really mind it too (to, Apple, surely) much, because while I of course know all of the right words to use, I still often spill out the wrong one while typing fast, and it is the kind of thing that the mind glazes over when doing a quick proofread, for the same reasons. But, it needs to have a level of accuracy greater than what I’ve seen (roughly 0%) to be of use!

Well, one more reason to leave spell checking while typing off, I suppose. :laughing:

There’s nothing wrong with grammar checking per se, of course, but what’s happened here is a mess. The absence of different colours to show intent makes it a time-waster, because the user has to establish whether each item is an error or a suggestion. Or, as in the case I gave, lunacy.

It’s also created context switches, which are particularly damaging to productivity – and well-being for some people.

Apple’s decision is, I suggest, less of an issue for non-fiction writing, but for fiction, and especially poetry, it’s created a hurdle.

This could become a serious issue, because it creates friction in the process, which means users will start looking around for solutions.

Or worse, I wonder if we’ll see an actual uptick in mistakes on these types of words, since people often have a latent trust in the system if they are unsure of themselves. Surely it wouldn’t have flagged the word as inappropriate without good cause, right? So maybe I’m wrong and the computer is correct in its assessment that I should have typed, “…is their a checkbox…”.

If anyone has any more examples of this lunacy - occurrences of red underlines for erroneous suggestions rather than outright spelling mistakes - please list them here, and I’ll send them to Apple in a bug report. This is a crazy decision given how poorly it works.

I wonder if this particular oddity has been generated because of the presumed etymology (on which Collins and American Heritage agree).

collinsdictionary.com/dicti … and-narrow

ahdictionary.com/word/search.ht … submit.y=0

Ode to Applese

Its colour-coding failed.
Its nonsense went on.
Its excruciating lameness.
Its tentacles long.

You the picture get. <-- This is actually okay in Applese.

In case it’s not clear, those four lines above all “fail” spellcheck on its.

Here’s another: judging by their cleanliness, didn’t appear to have experienced much work.
Dislikes Their .

The bulb hung at the end of a length of wire high above and swayed gently to and fro beside a slowly rotating fan.
The suggestion is to change to to too.

“It’s open to all. It’s your home too, Scarlet.”
The reverse of the previous. The suggestion is to change too to to.

This one is odd:. They could ask you where your mum lives. It’s fine unless it’s put in quotes: “They could ask you where your mum lives.”
Dislikes your.

An historian drinks tea.
Dislikes an.

Him and his small crew of sailors.
Dislikes of.

Yet every tale that told of a fisherwoman ended in tragedy
Dislikes of.

It’s one thing to be marking errors incorrectly, but perhaps worse to provide suggestions that are woefully wrong and accept them.

In British English to keep on the straight and narrow is a common idiom. Indeed, from macOS’s Oxford dictionary:

Anyway, it’s not for Apple to clean up the idiosyncrasies of the English language, even if they can afford to, which they can :smiley:

Also, the non idiomatic case fails too: The road went on for miles, straight and narrow.

And just to tag on (since I googled it too :laughing:)

phrases.org.uk/meanings/str … arrow.html

I suspect the Apple grammar intern who coded this figures it should be a compound adjective, as in straight-and-narrow path, which is correct. But “keeping on the straight and narrow” is no more an adjective than is keep your stick on the ice.

Must remember to turn off the grammar helper system-wide when I upgrade to Mojave.

I’ve added a lot more examples to the post above of occurrences of red underlines for erroneous suggestions.

Thanks, I’ve reported this to Apple as bug ID #44807047 and included the examples. (Safari underlined a word in my bug report as wrong when it wasn’t too - “This looks unprofessional in a for-sale writing app” - “a” was underlined, gah!)

Nice one, Keith.

Looks like the independent grammar function is messed up too. I just downloaded a Word doc from the Humanist site for research, which opened in Pages – which I don’t use except for this purpose – and was confronted, nay, scandalised by these.
Screenshot 2018-09-28 at 19.00.22.png
Screenshot 2018-09-28 at 19.00.13.png

Ouch. I have to say that it’s driving me mad. I type “were” and it wants to change it to “we’re” all the time. I tried to find an override somewhere that might allow me to tell the spell-check to stick to spellings only, but it’s all black box stuff that I can’t get to, dammit.

I’ve got dozens. Here’s a screencap of just one.

Screen Shot 2018-09-28 at 12.49.55.png

An optimal fix would be to expose the system grammar check to users, so we can turn it off if we want to.

Take a look in the “Keyboard” section of the system prefs. There’s a load of autocorrect and auto-replace options there. I’ve had mine off for years, because I know what I mean. Apple does not. The upshot is I don’t have anything being autocorrected, ever. Just flagged, now, with irritating little underlines.

Belay the previous. That only works for spelling autocorrect, not grammar suggestions.

There’s a post about this on MacRumors, in case anyone wants to add their name.