Serendipitously, later that day my daughter reached out to me with some frustrations whilst writing a paper for her te reo Māori course at the University of Otago:
One thing led to another and after helping her solve the problem she had, I asked her if she would craft a quick guest blog post for me with how she did it and what the outcome was.
Guest Post from Imogen Te Rangimarie
Kia ora koutou,
As a university student studying some Te Reo Māori, I’ve learned a lot in the past year or so. Te Reo is a beautiful language and it’s particularly lovely to listen to. Less beautiful, however, is reading a Word doc in Te Reo that’s full of ugly red squiggles. Such was my complaint while completing a written assignment in Te Reo – though I’m very much still learning and making mistakes in the process, I was pretty certain that I hadn’t made as many as can be glimpsed below:
The Māori keyboard that enabled me to write in macrons did nothing to address the perceived spelling mistakes. I lamented this to Sam McNeill [editor’s note: Dad!], who sent me a link to a Microsoft support page: Add an editing or authoring language or set language preferences in Office (microsoft.com).
The instructions were as follows:
It turns out that Māori does, in fact, have proofing available, and so I followed the above instructions. It did take me a minute to find the Option tab, which is right down at the very bottom. From there, I was off. I selected Māori, and clicked on where it said Proofing available. It took a minute to download and install – my computer discovered other Office updates it wanted to do first – but the options screen ended up looking like this.
Observe how in the settings, it now says that Māori has proofing installed. It is possible to then set Māori as your default language if that’s what you mainly do your writing in, by clicking on the Māori row and then clicking Set as Preference. This requires a restart of Word but is then almost ready to go.
I say almost, because I was initially dismayed to discover that the 800-odd words of my assignment were still full of red underlines – clearly it didn’t automatically apply to previously-written text. To get around this without retyping the document, I cut and then pasted without keeping source formatting. Lo and behold, gone were the red lines for all but a few unusual names, as you can see below:
The next thing I discovered was that the benefits went beyond the page being much easier on the eyes – the proofreading actually worked. (That is, it worked as far as I could tell; it may be that there are more complex aspects of Māori that it struggles with). Observe the underline in the example sentence below:
Not only has Word correctly recognised that ‘nga’ is not the right spelling, but it even prompts a correction upon right-clicking, as below:
In my opinion, this is pretty fantastic! If we’re looking to normalise the use of Te Reo while out and about in the world, it’s incredibly useful to be able to write documents in Te Reo Māori without having to backspace and retype every particle i after it autocorrects to a capital I. I’m stoked that the process for installing Māori as a proofing language was straightforward, and Mahuru Māori seems an excellent time to have discovered it.