Computer fails Churchill’s speech

20/11/2009

Winston Churchill’s fight on the beaches  speech might have stirred the hearts and minds of the people to whom it was addressed, but it failed to impress a computer marker.

David Wright, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Educational Assessors (CIEA), an umbrella body for exam boards and other organisations, said that Churchill’s speeches to the nation in 1940 had not impressed the computer. It criticised his repetition of the words “upon” and “our” and did not identify “broad, sunlit uplands” as a metaphor.

The computer didn’t think much of the prose of Ernest Hemingway or William Golding either.

The idea that a computer could mark an English essay doesn’t altogether thrill me. But its assessment of Churchill’s speech and the other writers’ work makes me feel much better about the arguments I have with the grammar checker on my PC.

Hat Tip: Society of Authors’ newsletter.


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