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7.1 The Language Data File

The basic format of the language data file is the same as it is for the Aspell configuration file. It is named ‘lang.dat’ and is located in the architecture independent data dir for Aspell (option ‘data-dir’) which is usually ‘prefix/share/aspell’. Use aspell config to find out where it is in your installation. By convention the language name should be the two letter ISO 639 language code if it exists, if not use the three letter code.

The language data file has several mandatory fields, and several optional ones. All fields are case sensitive and should be in all lower case.

The two mandatory fields are ‘name’ and ‘charset’.

name’ is the name of the language and should be the same as the file name (without the ‘.dat’).

charset’ is the 8-bit character set Aspell will expect the word lists to be formatted in. If possible choose from one of the standard ones provided with Aspell. These are ‘iso-8859-*’, ‘koi8-*’, or ‘viscii’. If your language does not require any non-ascii characters choose ‘iso-8859-1’. If one of these standard character sets is not suitable for your language then you can create a new one. See section Creating A New Character Set.

The optional fields are as follows:


The encoding the language data files are expected to be in as well as the default encoding to use when saving the personal dictionaries. It can be either ‘utf-8’ or any of the 8-bit encoding that Aspell supports. If not set, then it defaults to ‘charset’.


Non-letter characters that can appear in your language such as the ‘'’ and ‘-’. The format for the value is a list separated by spaces. Each item of the list has the following format.

<char> <begin><middle><end>

char is the non-letter character in question. begin, middle, end are either a ‘-’ or a ‘*’. A star for begin means that the character can begin a word, a ‘-’ means it can’t. The same is true for middle and end. For example, the entry for the ‘'’ in English is:

' -*-

To include more than one middle character just list them one after another on the same line. For example, to make both the ‘'’ and the ‘-’ a middle character, use the following line in the language data file:

special ' -*- - -*-

However, please be aware that adding special characters can have unintended consequences due to limitations of Aspell. For example if the ‘-’ was accepted as a middle character, then every word with a ‘-’ in it would be flagged as a spelling error unless that exact word is in the dictionary, even if both parts are in the dictionary. Also, having a ‘.’ as an end character will cause the ‘.’ to be part of any misspelled words. Which can get very annoying if you misspell a word at the end of a sentence.


The name of the soundslike data for the language. The data is expected to be in the file ‘name_phonet.dat’.

If name is ‘simpile’ then a very simple soundslike is used. This is not as powerful as full phonetic soundslike but it can be computed a lot faster. (see section The Simple Soundslike)

If the soundslike name is ‘none’, or this option is not specified, then no soundslike will be used. The effective soundslike is the word converted to all lowercase and possibly with accents stripped depending on the ‘store-as’ option. For languages with phonetic spelling the difference will not be very noticeable. However, for languages with non-phonetic spelling there will be a noticeable difference. The difference you notice will depend on the quality of the soundslike data file. If you do not notice much of a difference for a language with non-phonetic spelling that is a good indication that the soundslike data is not rough enough—or the words you are trying are not that badly misspelled.


Avoid storing the soundslike information with the word. Instead it is computed as needed. This option defaults to true if the soundslike is ‘none’ or ‘simpile’, and false when a phonetic soundslike is used.


See section Replacement Tables.


The base name of the keyboard definition file to use. For more information see Notes on Typo-Analysis and the Keyboard Definition File.


A list of characters which specifies which characters to insert between two words when a word is split. This is a list option.


See section Affix Compression.


How the words are indexed in the dictionary. If "stripped" then the word is indexed in a lower case and de-accented form. If "lower", then the word is indexed in a lower case form but with accent info still intact. This just controls how the word is indexed, not how it is stored. The default is "stripped" unless affix compression is used.


Should be set to true if your language makes use of private use characters or when Normalization Form C is not the same as full composition.


Additional options includes options to control how run-together words are handled the same way as they are in the normal configuration files. for more information, please Controlling the Behavior of Run-together Words.

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