Microsoft launches ‘woke’ spelling tool

·2-min read
File photo  (PA)
File photo (PA)

Microsoft has launched an “inclusive” spelling tool that offers politically correct alternatives to commonly used phrases.

The “inclusiveness checker” highlights phrases or words the firm believes could offend someone based on their gender, age, ethnicity or sexual orientation.

The Word feature, which is able to look for “socioeconomic bias”, then suggests alternatives deemed to be more “woke”.

Among the suggestions are changing Postman Pat to “Postal Worker Pat” as the former “may imply gender bias”.

It also recommends amending “Mrs Thatcher” to “Ms Thatcher”. In addition, it proposes users change “mankind” in Neil Armstrong’s “one giant leap for mankind” to “humankind or “humanity”.

Other words to change include “headmaster” (Word suggests “principal”), “master” (“expert”) and “manpower” (“workforce”).

The new spelling function has been rolled out on the latest version of Microsoft Word in Office 365.

When switched on, spelling mistakes are underlined in red, grammar errors in blue and "inclusiveness" issues in purple.

Some Twitter users praised the checker as a neat tool that will help people overcome “subconscious biases”.

Digital strategist John Bull wrote: “Your spellchecker will now help you to start overcoming your subconscious biases.

"It’s a brilliant feature. I wish they’d make more noise about it."

However, others criticised the tech giant for “cowering to the woke brigade”.

In a statement, Microsoft said: “Microsoft understands that not every Editor suggestion may be suitable for all users and all scenarios. That’s why we let users be in control of their final output. Editor is a completely optional tool that users can turn on or off at any point. Editor does not make any autocorrections.

“The user has control over which suggestions they choose to use, if any. They will be able to turn on and off each one of them individually.”

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