Thursday, January 13, 2005

Google's grammar guidelines

Google is also doubling as grammar police in their AdWords division, this New York Times article points out.
Taking the stance that unorthodox usage and punctuation and slang create a less straightforward searching experience, Google's AdWords division, which is responsible for the contextual ads that appear alongside search results, insists on standard English and punctilious punctuation.
The author of the article, Sarah Lefton, discovered the odd grammar rules when she got a letter saying her AdWords ad broke them.

The offending phrase? "Check em out." Google suggested "check them out" instead. Of course. Lefton was perplexed.
Since when does anyone care about grammar and style on the Web? Would my little colloquialism really bring so much chaos to the searching experience of Googlers?

From Google's point of view, the answer is yes. Clarity is more important than tone.

Is Google an Internet incarnation of the grammar prescriptivist, insisting that language has rules and that communication without those rules leads to confusion and the decay of civility? Could advertising's dangling participles and the unrelenting trend of sentence fragments be at the root of our collective information overload?
There's a lot more worth reading in the article. She talks to Robert Hartwell Fiske, who wrote "The Dictionary Of Disagreeable English: A Curmudgeon's Compendium of Excruciatingly Correct Grammar." And she interviews Fran Wills, vice president for interactive media at the Denver Newspaper Agency (which covers the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News).


At 3:36 PM, January 13, 2005, Blogger Bill said...

I'm a big fan of "'em." In speech, especially, the overarticulation of "them" strikes me as way too Marcia Brady.

At 4:57 PM, January 13, 2005, Blogger Nicole said...

Yeah, I didn't understand that at all. It left me wondering if it would be allowed with the beginning apostrophe. I somehow doubt it.

At 12:05 PM, October 07, 2008, Blogger Mr. Bennet said...

If I use it, I go with an apostrophe. Colloquialisms, gotta love 'em.


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