Google Docs has started replacing your words with “newspeak.” This is absurd.
Google Docs will roll out a new feature this year prompting users to be more inclusive by suggesting alternatives to “ableist” and “unnecessarily gendered” language.
While unveiling Smart Canvas at a conference in Mountain View, California, Tuesday, Google general manager Javier Soltero, who oversees Google Workspace, presented what some of the language prompt changes will look like.
One example, which he shared during the conference, demonstrated how Google’s revamped assisted writing capabilities would suggest a user change the word “chairman” to “chair” or “chairperson.”
In an updated Google developer “inclusive documentation” style guide, the software company previews several other hypothetical suggestions it will make, including changing entire sentences.
If a user writes the sentence, “Before launch, give everything a final sanity-check,” Google will suggest writing, “Before launch, give everything a final check for completeness and clarity,” instead.
Similarly, if a user writes, “There are some crazy outliers in the data,” Google will advise going with, “There are some baffling outliers in the data.”
The new assisted writing capabilities will also take aim at gender-exclusive language. The style guide recommends writing “Equipment installation takes around 16 person-hours to complete” rather than “Equipment installation takes around 16 man-hours to complete.”
“When trying to achieve a friendly and conversational tone, problematic ableist language might slip in,” the style guide explains. “This can come in the form of figures of speech and other turns of phrase.”
“Be sensitive to your word choice, especially when aiming for an informal tone,” the guide continues. “Ableist language includes words or phrases such as crazy, insane, blind to or blind eye to, cripple, dumb, and others. Choose alternative words depending on the context.”