English to binary letters can be changed by using a new system for selecting the correct letter, according to new research.
The study, which analysed a large number of new, often-overlooked words from a variety of sources, showed that using a different system for spelling new words was more accurate than a simple alphabetical search.
The research, conducted by the University of Exeter’s Centre for the Study of English Language Change (CSELC), was published in the journal Plos One on Wednesday.
The team of researchers examined more than 40,000 English words from four dictionaries to examine how the change from male to female would affect how people spell words.
“If you’re trying to write a word, the first thing you want to do is change the letter in the word to something that’s a woman’s word, or vice versa,” Professor John Gower, from the University’s School of History, said.
“That’s where it’s useful to find words that are gender neutral, so we’re able to find those words in the dictionary and use the gender-neutral spellings in our spellchecker.”
We found that there was a clear gender-specific difference in how people changed letters in English words, and there was an overall gender difference.
“The study found that the gender difference in spelling accuracy was not statistically significant, although there were small gender differences in spelling error in English, but the gender gap in spelling errors was statistically significant.
The researchers found that if you only changed the letter, in the same order as the word, then spelling errors were reduced, but there was no statistically significant difference in error rates between genders.
The difference in accuracy between male and female spelling was about half that found between male-to-female and female-to -female spellers.
Professor Gower said the findings showed that gender-based differences in language use are not necessarily gender-related.”
Gender differences in grammar, spelling, spelling errors and the amount of vocabulary people use is not a consequence of gender differences, but rather, a consequence that is related to the language environment and the gender differences that are present,” he said.
Professor David Wright, from CSELC, said there are a number of reasons for the gender gaps.”
The most obvious of these is that the English language is often not used to categorise genders and we tend to see language as being a binary, but that doesn’t seem to be true in practice,” he added.”
In fact, there’s evidence that language and grammar are being systematically changed to reflect a particular gender role.
“There’s also evidence that men are using more language than women and this leads to differences in the way men and women speak.”
Professor Gowers said the study also showed that spelling errors could be an indicator of how well-educated people are.
“I think the important thing to realise is that spelling mistakes are just one piece of the puzzle.
They’re also just one of the factors that can cause a person to struggle with language,” he explained.”
Language use can be a complex process and, in particular, when it comes to gender, there is a lot of variation between people.”
People’s ability to spell is one factor that is important but spelling errors are just as important.