A SET OF DICTIONARIES FOR AMERICAN AND BRITISH ENGLISH
In the WinEdt directory on CTAN, there are a number of contributed
dictionaries for spell checking in several languages. For English one
has the choice between UK.dic and US.dic. However, I have found these,
especially UK.dic, to be unsatisfactory for a number of reasons.
1. The UK dictionary is missing many important words beginning with "m"
for some reason. There was an email at some time mentioning how the
file was corrupted at some point.
2. It contains many more 2 and 3 letter combinations than US.dic,
combinations that do not seem like any words that I know.
3. UK.dic accepts both -ize and -ise versions of words like "maximize";
this is indeed correct for British English, but in any single work,
a consistent spelling must be used; hence one must decide for one or
the other and the spell checker should be switchable accordingly.
4. The US.dic is rigidly American, and does not conform to my personal
(Canadian) style, which is a mixture of US and UK. In fact, the
distinction between American and British spelling is not so
straightforward as one might think. See below.
5. The US.dic is prudish, missing some very fundamental four-letter
words, which are to be found in UK.dic.
What is American and what is British spelling anyway?
There are five categories of words in English with spelling variants; the
differences are often referred to as US or UK, but as the table below
illustrates, this is not so clear cut.
I designate the five categories with a representative word from each:
In each case, I give what is normally considered American first, then
the form normally considered British. However, checking with the
Webster's and Oxford dictionaries, one finds that the following are
permitted (the preferred form is given first):
Webster (US) Oxford (UK)
This shows that we could agree on labelled, center, maximize, and only
need to quarrel about color/colour and analyze/analyse. (This is my own personal style,
where I settle for "colour" and "analyse".)
(Consider the origin of this word. The Latin is "color, coloris", so that
"color" is indeed the true original word. The English "colour" comes from the
French "couleur". The same applies to "honour/honor". More interesting is
"neighbour/neighbor" which is not a Latin root at all, but a Germanic one. It
is related to the German "Nachbar" (literally "the one beside" but which
translates exactly as "neighbour". So why is the "u" there at all? English is
More flexibility is needed in the spell checker than that provided by
only two dictionary files.
My solution: 11 files
I have taken UK.dic and US.dic, merged them, extracted the words in the
four categories, placing them 8 additional dictionary files.
eng_com.dic (150843 words with no alternative spellings)
colour.dic and color.dic (366 words with -our/-or variant)
labelled.dic and labeled.dic (326 words with -ell-/-el- variant)
centre.dic and center.dic (85 words with -re/-er variant)
ize.dic and ise.dic (3387 words with -ize/-ise variant)
yze.dic and yse.dic (87 words with -yze/-yse variant)
Six of these files must be loaded each time: eng_com.dic and one of
each pair. One uses the WinEdt dictionary manager to activate as one
pleases. Alternatively, one could use them to make up one big
dictionary of the combination that one desires. I do provide ready-to-run
installations, see below.
There are 32 possible combinations, but I only see 4 realistic ones:
strict American: color, labeled, center, ize, yze
liberal American: color, labelled, center, ize, yze
liberal British: colour, labelled, center, ize, yse
strict British: colour, labelled, centre, ise, yse
I set up WinEdt (32 bit version with modes and submodes) with submodes
UK and US, to append to main modes TeX and ANSI. My default is liberal
British, but strict British and strict American are optionally there.
The filters for the 11 dictionaries are thus:
eng_com.dic * (always active)
color.dic US (only for US TeX files)
colour.dic *|US (for all but US TeX files)
labeled.dic US (only for US TeX files)
labelled.dic *|US (for all but US TeX files)
center.dic *|UK (for all but UK TeX files)
centre.dic UK (only for UK TeX files)
ize.dic *|UK (for all but UK TeX files)
ise.dic UK (only for UK TeX files)
yze.dic US (only for US TeX files)
yse.dic *|US (for all but US TeX files)
In fact, my situation is more complex because I also have submodes DE and NEU
for German texts, old and new spelling rules.
To simplify the installation for you, I provide WinEdt macros:
eng_dic.edt For the above setup, liberal British as default
eng_US.edt For US as default
eng_UK.edt For UK as default
Place the contents of english.zip into %B\dict\eng where %B is the directory
where winedt.exe is found. Then select Macros|Execute Macro... from the tool
bar, running one of the above .edt files.
WARNING: these macros will load the standard set of modes with :US and :UK
added as submodes. If you have any customize modes of your own, do not do
this. Rather, add the submodes by hand and then load the appropriate
eng_*.dat file under Options|Dictionaries Right mouse button Load from...
As always, you should backup your setup (Options|Configurations|Backup)
before making any of the above installations.
Patrick W Daly
Max-Planck Institut fuer Aeronomie
2000 March 3