Some time ago, the only scrutiny of any writing I may have authored came from an English teacher with a red pen. It was limited to class assignments. I’m pretty sure I personally cost the school system a lot of red ink, which I am now reimbursing through my property taxes.

However, this isn’t about property taxes. It’s about grammar checkers, which incidentally don’t do much to keep me from getting side-tracked by a rogue idea that comes up so often in writing. But let’s forge on.

I am constantly assailed by ads for grammar checkers because I use an online thesaurus. … What’s that? No, a thesaurus is not a type of dinosaur, a thesaurus is a book where you can look up synonyms when you’re too old to immediately call the right word to mind. But come to think of it, yes, a thesaurus is a dinosaur. I haven’t cracked mine open in years even though it sits in my top desk drawer. I now get my synonyms off the internet.

And no, synonym isn’t a spice that you put into apple pie. Yet on the other hand, it actually is a type of spice for writing where one can only hope that with enough spice you can turn everyday writing into literature. But that’s like trying to turn a chuck steak into a ribeye with more salt and pepper: it helps a bit, but it’s still chuck. Realistically, a person needs a good amount of alcohol to turn it into a ribeye. Same with turning writing to literature.

As I started to say, I am constantly besieged by offers to purchase software that instantly checks grammar as I type. You have to wonder, is that what we need: someone (or some thing) hovering over us to check how we express ourselves? Truth be told, that would be very helpful in a lot of cases.

In business, it’s a tremendous help to have someone, even a robot, check your work for standard errors. If you should accidently let it slip in a company report that your boss is an overpaid misogynistic womanizer who is dumber than a bag of hammers, it’s great to have software catch that common workplace gaffe and let you know that you left out a comma between overpaid and misogynistic.

Overcome with curiosity, I recently acquired the free version of a popular grammar checker because to subscribe to the full-featured edition would have, ironically, cost about a quarter of what I make writing. The free version is very cute. It corrects what my word processor already flags and then it highlights all the mistakes I may have made that will be revealed when I upgrade to the pro version with a monthly subscription.

The software not only corrects spelling and flags grammatical errors, it suggests “better” ways to phrase your thoughts. It allows you to choose the criteria the app will use to check your compositions. You can prioritize sounding fluent, clear communications, checking for plagiarism and others.

However, I’m more interested in an app that could help me write in a particular dialect. Just like speaking devices have different voices from various cultural contexts, couldn’t we have grammar checkers keyed to different cultural concepts?

I’m looking for a Yoda add-on “which would be a good thing for writers.” The add-on would correct that phrase to be more Yoda-like: “which would, for writers, a good thing be.”

In Pirate Talk mode: “By the powers that be, aye, a blessing it be for barnacle-sucking scribes.”

The Stoner: “Wow, man … that could be, like, awesome for, like, authors.”

And the Australian Bushman: “A bonzer idea, mate, for blokes who put pen to paper after we’ve blown the froth off a few too many.”

Also, on my list is an app that allows me to come back with a snappy retort after someone slights me. When people suggest that I perform poorly or accuse me of being too kind, I’ve used the comeback “at least I’m not ugly” too many times. I need new material.

There is still a lot of room for improvement in my writing and I welcome any help. To date, the best help is still my spell checker. However, it has not saved me from turning how into hoe, test into teat or interchanging Satin with Satan. As they say, “Putt knot yore tryst inn spill chequers.”

I’m still thinking about property taxes. Mercifully, I am out of space.