Archive of UserLand's first discussion group, started October 5, 1998.

Open source English dictionary?

Author:Dave Winer
Posted:1/30/1999; 6:17:11 PM
Topic:Open source English dictionary?
Msg #:2595
Prev/Next:2594 / 2596

I spent a few minutes poking around the search engines looking for an open source English dictionary and came up with nothing. I have too many spell-checkers on my hard disk, and as far as I know, none of them are accessible to other software.

A service

I want a spell-checker that's a service that any program can poke text at and get back a list of positions that contain possibly mis-spelled words, with suggestions for alternate spellings.

So the first question, is there a public project, open source or similar, for producing a dictionary and software to access the dictionary? Ideally there would be dictionaries for every popular language. I'd like it to be easily updated over the net, and run on Mac and Windows.

Our scriptable dictionary

In 1992, we licensed a dictionary for $50 from Jeff Heaton at MicroGenesis Software and released it as Dictionary 1.0, a scriptable dictionary for the Mac. I've pasted the readme from that release in a response to this message. Heaton's explanation for how he did it is fascinating and it indicates that it's not an insurmountable job to build a list of words if you already have a program that provides a scriptable interface to a dictionary.

We need one

If we have to write one I want it to be the last one anyone ever has to write. I don't think the English language should be proprietary. Interested in getting such a project going? And of course if you know of one, post a pointer. Thanks..

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