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 ISPELL(5)                                                         ISPELL(5)

      ispell - format of ispell dictionaries and affix files

      Ispell(1) requires two files to define the language that it is spell-
      checking.  The first file is a dictionary containing words for the
      language, and the second is an "affix" file that defines the meaning
      of special flags in the dictionary.  The two files are combined by
      buildhash (see ispell(1)) and written to a hash file which is not
      described here.

      A raw ispell dictionary (either the main dictionary or your own
      personal dictionary) contains a list of words, one per line.  Each
      word may optionally be followed by a slash ("/") and one or more
      flags, which modify the root word as explained below.  Depending on
      the options with which ispell was built, case may or may not be
      significant in either the root word or the flags, independently.
      Specifically, if the compile-time option CAPITALIZATION is defined,
      case is significant in the root word; if not, case is ignored in the
      root word.  If the compile-time option MASKBITS is set to a value of
      32, case is ignored in the flags; otherwise case is significant in the
      flags.  Contact your system administrator or ispell maintainer for
      more information (or use the -vv flag to find out).  The dictionary
      should be sorted with the -f flag of sort(1) before the hash file is
      built; this is done automatically by munchlist(1), which is the normal
      way of building dictionaries.

      If the dictionary contains words that have string characters (see the
      affix-file documentation below), they must be written in the format
      given by the defstringtype statement in the affix file.  This will be
      the case for most non-English languages.  Be careful to use this
      format, rather than that of your favorite formatter, when adding words
      to a dictionary.  (If you add words to your personal dictionary during
      an ispell session, they will automatically be converted to the correct
      format.  This feature can be used to convert an entire dictionary if

                echo qqqqq > dummy.dict
                buildhash dummy.dict affix-file dummy.hash
                awk '{print "*"}END{print "#"}' old-dict-file \
                | ispell -a -T old-dict-string-type \
                  -d ./dummy.hash -p ./new-dict-file \
                  > /dev/null
                rm dummy.*

      The case of the root word controls the case of words accepted by
      ispell, as follows:

      (1)  If the root word appears only in lower case (e.g., bob), it will
           be accepted in lower case, capitalized, or all capitals.

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 ISPELL(5)                                                         ISPELL(5)

      (2)  If the root word appears capitalized (e.g., Robert), it will not
           be accepted in all-lower case, but will be accepted capitalized
           or all in capitals.

      (3)  If the root word appears all in capitals (e.g., UNIX), it will
           only be accepted all in capitals.

      (4)  If the root word appears with a "funny" capitalization (e.g.,
           ITCorp), a word will be accepted only if it follows that
           capitalization, or if it appears all in capitals.

      (5)  More than one capitalization of a root word may appear in the
           dictionary.  Flags from different capitalizations are combined by
           OR-ing them together.

      Redundant capitalizations (e.g., bob and Bob) will be combined by
      buildhash and by ispell (for personal dictionaries), and can be
      removed from a raw dictionary by munchlist.

      For example, the dictionary:


      will accept bob, Bob, BOB, Robert, ROBERT, UNIX, ITcorp, ITCorp, and
      ITCORP, and will reject all others.  Some of the unacceptable forms
      are bOb, robert, Unix, and ItCorp.

      As mentioned above, root words in any dictionary may be extended by
      flags.  Each flag is a single alphabetic character, which represents a
      prefix or suffix that may be added to the root to form a new word.
      For example, in an English dictionary the D flag can be added to bathe
      to make bathed.  Since flags are represented as a single bit in the
      hashed dictionary, this results in significant space savings.  The
      munchlist script will reduce an existing raw dictionary by adding
      flags when possible.

      When a word is extended with an affix, the affix will be accepted only
      if it appears in the same case as the initial (prefix) or final
      (suffix) letter of the word.  Thus, for example, the entry UNIX/M in
      the main dictionary (M means add an apostrophe and an "s" to make a
      possessive) would accept UNIX'S but would reject UNIX's.  If UNIX's is
      legal, it must appear as a separate dictionary entry, and it will not
      be combined by munchlist.  (In general, you don't need to worry about
      these things; munchlist guarantees that its output dictionary will
      accept the same set of words as its input, so all you have to do is
      add words to the dictionary and occasionally run munchlist to reduce
      its size).

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 ISPELL(5)                                                         ISPELL(5)

      As mentioned, the affix definition file describes the affixes
      associated with particular flags.  It also describes the character set
      used by the language.

      Although the affix-definition grammar is designed for a line-oriented
      layout, it is actually a free-format yacc grammar and can be laid out
      weirdly if you want.  Comments are started by a pound (sharp) sign
      (#), and continue to the end of the line.  Backslashes are supported
      in the usual fashion (\nnn, plus specials \n, \r, \t, \v, \f, \b, and
      the new hex format \xnn).  Any character with special meaning to the
      parser can be changed to an uninterpreted token by backslashing it;
      for example, you can declare a flag named 'asterisk' or 'colon' with
      flag \*: or flag \::.

      The grammar will be presented in a top-down fashion, with discussion
      of each element.  An affix-definition file must contain exactly one

           table     :    [headers] [prefixes] [suffixes]

      At least one of prefixes and suffixes is required.  They can appear in
      either order.

           headers   :    [ options ] char-sets

      The headers describe options global to this dictionary and language.
      These include the character sets to be used and the formatter, and the
      defaults for certain ispell flags.

           options : { fmtr-stmt | opt-stmt | flag-stmt | num-stmt }

      The options statements define the defaults for certain ispell flags
      and for the character sets used by the formatters.

           fmtr-stmt :    { nroff-stmt | tex-stmt }

      A fmtr-stmt describes characters that have special meaning to a
      formatter.  Normally, this statement is not necessary, but some
      languages may have preempted the usual defaults for use as language-
      specific characters.  In this case, these statements may be used to
      redefine the special characters expected by the formatter.

           nroff-stmt     :    { nroffchars | troffchars } string

      The nroffchars statement allows redefinition of certain nroff control
      characters.  The string given must be exactly five characters long,
      and must list substitutions for the left and right parentheses ("()")
      , the period ("."), the backslash ("\"), and the asterisk ("*").  (The
      right parenthesis is not currently used, but is included for
      completeness.) For example, the statement:

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 ISPELL(5)                                                         ISPELL(5)

           nroffchars {}.\\*

      would replace the left and right parentheses with left and right curly
      braces for purposes of parsing nroff/troff strings, with no effect on
      the others (admittedly a contrived example).  Note that the backslash
      is escaped with a backslash.

           tex-stmt  :    { TeXchars | texchars } string

      The TeXchars statement allows redefinition of certain TeX/LaTeX
      control characters.  The string given must be exactly thirteen
      characters long, and must list substitutions for the left and right
      parentheses ("()") , the left and right square brackets ("[]"), the
      left and right curly braces ("{}"), the left and right angle brackets
      ("<>"), the backslash ("\"), the dollar sign ("$"), the asterisk
      ("*"), the period or dot ("."), and the percent sign ("%").  For
      example, the statement:

           texchars ()\[]<\><\>\\$*.%

      would replace the functions of the left and right curly braces with
      the left and right angle brackets for purposes of parsing TeX/LaTeX
      constructs, while retaining their functions for the tib bibliographic
      preprocessor.  Note that the backslash, the left square bracket, and
      the right angle bracket must be escaped with a backslash.

           opt-stmt  :    { cmpnd-stmt | aff-stmt }

           cmpnd-stmt     :    compoundwords compound-opt

           aff-stmt       :    allaffixes on-or-off

           on-or-off :    { on | off }

           compound-opt : { on-or-off | controlled character }

      An opt-stmt controls certain ispell defaults that are best made
      language-specific.  The allaffixes statement controls the default for
      the -P and -m options to ispell. If allaffixes is turned off (the
      default), ispell will default to the behavior of the -P flag:
      root/affix suggestions will only be made if there are no "near
      misses".  If allaffixes is turned on, ispell will default to the
      behavior of the -m flag: root/affix suggestions will always be made.
      The compoundwords statement controls the default for the -B and -C
      options to ispell. If compoundwords is turned off (the default),
      ispell will default to the behavior of the -B flag: run-together words
      will be reported as errors.  If compoundwords is turned on, ispell
      will default to the behavior of the -C flag: run-together words will
      be considered as compounds if both are in the dictionary.  This is
      useful for languages such as German and Norwegian, which form large
      numbers of compound words.  Finally, if compoundwords is set to

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 ISPELL(5)                                                         ISPELL(5)

      controlled, only words marked with the flag indicated by character
      (which should not be otherwise used) will be allowed to participate in
      compound formation.  Because this option requires the flags to be
      specified in the dictionary, it is not available from the command

           flag-stmt :    flagmarker character

      The flagmarker statement describes the character which is used to
      separate affix flags from the root word in a raw dictionary file.
      This must be a character which is not found in any word (including in
      string characters; see below).  The default is "/" because this
      character is not normally used to represent special characters in any

           num-stmt  :    compoundmin digit

      The compoundmin statement controls the length of the two components of
      a compound word.  This only has an effect if compoundwords is turned
      on or if the -C flag is given to ispell.  In that case, only words at
      least as long as the given minimum will be accepted as components of a
      compound.  The default is 3 characters.

           char-sets :    norm-sets [ alt-sets ]

      The character-set section describes the characters that can be part of
      a word, and defines their collating order.  There must always be a
      definition of "normal" character sets;  in addition, there may be one
      or more partial definitions of "alternate" sets which are used with
      various text formatters.

           norm-sets :    [ deftype ] charset-group

      A "normal" character set may optionally begin with a definition of the
      file suffixes that make use of this set.  Following this are one or
      more character-set declarations.

           deftype : defstringtype name deformatter suffix*

      The defstringtype declaration gives a list of file suffixes which
      should make use of the default string characters defined as part of
      the base character set; it is only necessary if string characters are
      being defined.  The name parameter is a string giving the unique name
      associated with these suffixes; often it is a formatter name.  If the
      formatter is a member of the troff family, "nroff" should be used for
      the name associated with the most popular macro package; members of
      the TeX family should use "tex".  Other names may be chosen freely,
      but they should be kept simple, as they are used in ispell 's -T
      switch to specify a formatter type.  The deformatter parameter
      specifies the deformatting style to use when processing files with the
      given suffixes.  Currently, this must be either tex or nroff.  The

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 ISPELL(5)                                                         ISPELL(5)

      suffix parameters are a whitespace-separated list of strings which, if
      present at the end of a filename, indicate that the associated set of
      string characters should be used by default for this file.  For
      example, the suffix list for the troff family typically includes
      suffixes such as ".ms", ".me", ".mm", etc.

           charset-group :     { char-stmt | string-stmt | dup-stmt}*

      A char-stmt describes single characters; a string-stmt describes
      characters that must appear together as a string, and which usually
      represent a single character in the target language.  Either may also
      describe conversion between upper and lower case.  A dup-stmt is used
      to describe alternate forms of string characters, so that a single
      dictionary may be used with several formatting programs that use
      different conventions for representing non-ASCII characters.

           char-stmt :    wordchars character-range
                     |    wordchars lowercase-range uppercase-range
                     |    boundarychars character-range
                     |    boundarychars lowercase-range uppercase-range
           string-stmt    :    stringchar string
                     |    stringchar lowercase-string uppercase-string

      Characters described with the boundarychars statement are considered
      part of a word only if they appear singly, embedded between characters
      declared with the wordchars or stringchar statements.  For example, if
      the hyphen is a boundary character (useful in French), the string
      "foo-bar" would be a single word, but "-foo" would be the same as
      "foo", and "foo--bar" would be two words separated by non-word

      If two ranges or strings are given in a char-stmt or string-stmt, the
      first describes characters that are interpreted as lowercase and the
      second describes uppercase.  In the case of a stringchar statement,
      the two strings must be of the same length.  Also, in a stringchar
      statement, the actual strings may contain both uppercase and
      characters themselves without difficulty; for instance, the statement

           stringchar     "\\*(sS"  "\\*(Ss"

      is legal and will not interfere with (or be interfered with by) other
      declarations of of "s" and "S" as lower and upper case, respectively.

      A final note on string characters: some languages collate certain
      special characters as if they were strings.  For example, the German
      "a-umlaut" is traditionally sorted as if it were "ae".  Ispell is not
      capable of this; each character must be treated as an individual
      entity.  So in certain cases, ispell will sort a list of words into a
      different order than the standard "dictionary" order for the target

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 ISPELL(5)                                                         ISPELL(5)

           alt-sets  :    alttype [ alt-stmt* ]

      Because different formatters use different notations to represent
      non-ASCII characters, ispell must be aware of the representations used
      by these formatters.  These are declared as alternate sets of string

           alttype   :    altstringtype name suffix*

      The altstringtype statement introduces each set by declaring the
      associated formatter name and filename suffix list.  This name and
      list are interpreted exactly as in the defstringtype statement above.
      Following this header are one or more alt-stmts which declare the
      alternate string characters used by this formatter.

           alt-stmt       :    altstringchar alt-string std-string

      The altstringchar statement describes alternate representations for
      string characters.  For example, the -mm macro package of troff
      represents the German "a-umlaut" as a\*:, while TeX uses the sequence
      \"a.  If the troff versions are declared as the standard versions
      using stringchar, the TeX versions may be declared as alternates by
      using the statement

           altstringchar  \\\"a     a\\*
      When the altstringchar statement is used to specify alternate forms,
      all forms for a particular formatter must be declared together as a
      group.  Also, each formatter or macro package must provide a complete
      set of characters, both upper- and lower-case, and the character
      sequences used for each formatter must be completely distinct.
      Character sequences which describe upper- and lower-case versions of
      the same printable character must also be the same length.  It may be
      necessary to define some new macros for a given formatter to satisfy
      these restrictions.  (The current version of buildhash does not
      enforce these restrictions, but failure to obey them may result in
      errors being introduced into files that are processed with ispell.)

      An important minor point is that ispell assumes that all characters
      declared as wordchars or boundarychars will occupy exactly one
      position on the terminal screen.

      A single character-set statement can declare either a single character
      or a contiguous range of characters.  A range is given as in egrep and
      the shell: [a-z] means lowercase alphabetics; [^a-z] means all but
      lowercase, etc.  All character-set statements are combined (unioned)
      to produce the final list of characters that may be part of a word.
      The collating order of the characters is defined by the order of their
      declaration; if a range is used, the characters are considered to have
      been declared in ASCII order.  Characters that have case are collated
      next to each other, with the uppercase character first.

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 ISPELL(5)                                                         ISPELL(5)

      The character-declaration statements have a rather strange behavior
      caused by its need to match each lowercase character with its
      uppercase equivalent.  In any given wordchars or boundarychars
      statement, the characters in each range are first sorted into ASCII
      collating sequence, then matched one-for-one with the other range.
      (The two ranges must have the same number of characters).  Thus, for
      example, the two statements:

           wordchars [aeiou] [AEIOU]
           wordchars [aeiou] [UOIEA]

      would produce exactly the same effect.  To get the vowels to match up
      "wrong", you would have to use separate statements:

           wordchars a U
           wordchars e O
           wordchars i I
           wordchars o E
           wordchars u A

      which would cause uppercase 'e' to be 'O', and lowercase 'O' to be
      'e'.  This should normally be a problem only with languages which have
      been forced to use a strange ASCII collating sequence.  If your
      uppercase and lowercase letters both collate in the same order, you
      shouldn't have to worry about this "feature".

      The prefixes and suffixes sections have exactly the same syntax,
      except for the introductory keyword.

           prefixes  :    prefixes flagdef*
           suffixes  :    suffixes flagdef*
           flagdef   :    flag [*|~] char : repl*

      A prefix or suffix table consists of an introductory keyword and a
      list of flag definitions.  Flags can be defined more than once, in
      which case the definitions are combined.  Each flag controls one or
      more repls (replacements) which are conditionally applied to the
      beginnings or endings of various words.

      Flags are named by a single character char.  Depending on a
      configuration option, this character can be either any uppercase
      letter (the default configuration) or any 7-bit ASCII character.  Most
      languages should be able to get along with just 26 flags.

      A flag character may be prefixed with one or more option characters.
      (If you wish to use one of the option characters as a flag character,
      simply enclose it in double quotes.)

      The asterisk (*) option means that this flag participates in cross-
      product formation.  This only matters if the file contains both prefix
      and suffix tables.  If so, all prefixes and suffixes marked with an

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 ISPELL(5)                                                         ISPELL(5)

      asterisk will be applied in all cross-combinations to the root word.
      For example, consider the root fix with prefixes pre and in, and
      suffixes es and ed.  If all flags controlling these prefixes and
      suffixes are marked with an asterisk, then the single root fix would
      also generate prefix, prefixes, prefixed, infix, infixes, infixed,
      fix, fixes, and fixed.  Cross-product formation can produce a large
      number of words quickly, some of which may be illegal, so watch out.
      If cross-products produce illegal words, munchlist will not produce
      those flag combinations, and the flag will not be useful.

           repl :    condition* > [ - strip-string , ] append-string

      The ~ option specifies that the associated flag is only active when a
      compound word is being formed.  This is useful in a language like
      German, where the form of a word sometimes changes inside a compound.

      A repl is a conditional rule for modifying a root word.  Up to 8
      conditions may be specified.  If the conditions are satisfied, the
      rules on the right-hand side of the repl are applied, as follows:

      (1)  If a strip-string is given, it is first stripped from the
           beginning or ending (as appropriate) of the root word.

      (2)  Then the append-string is added at that point.

      For example, the condition . means "any word", and the condition Y
      means "any word ending in Y".  The following (suffix) replacements:

           .    >    MENT
           Y    >    -Y,IES

      would change induce to inducement and fly to flies.  (If they were
      controlled by the same flag, they would also change fly to flyment,
      which might not be what was wanted.  Munchlist can be used to protect
      against this sort of problem; see the command sequence given below.)

      No matter how much you might wish it, the strings on the right must be
      strings of specific characters, not ranges.  The reasons are rooted
      deeply in the way ispell works, and it would be difficult or
      impossible to provide for more flexibility.  For example, you might
      wish to write:

           [EY] >    -[EY],IES

      This will not work.  Instead, you must use two separate rules:

           E    >    -E,IES
           Y    >    -Y,IES

      The application of repls can be restricted to certain words with

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 ISPELL(5)                                                         ISPELL(5)

           condition :    { . | character | range }

      A condition is a restriction on the characters that adjoin, and/or are
      replaced by, the right-hand side of the repl.  Up to 8 conditions may
      be given, which should be enough context for anyone.  The right-hand
      side will be applied only if the conditions in the repl are satisfied.
      The conditions also implicitly define a length; roots shorter than the
      number of conditions will not pass the test.  (As a special case, a
      condition of a single dot "." defines a length of zero, so that the
      rule applies to all words indiscriminately).  This length is
      independent of the separate test that insists that all flags produce
      an output word length of at least four.

      Conditions that are single characters should be separated by white
      space.  For example, to specify words ending in "ED", write:

           E D  >    -ED,ING        # As in covered > covering

      If you write:

           ED   >    -ED,ING

      the effect will be the same as:

           [ED] >    -ED,ING

      As a final minor, but important point, it is sometimes useful to
      rebuild a dictionary file using an incompatible suffix file.  For
      example, suppose you expanded the "R" flag to generate "er" and "ers"
      (thus making the Z flag somewhat obsolete).  To build a new dictionary
      newdict that, using newaffixes, will accept exactly the same list of
      words as the old list olddict did using oldaffixes, the -c switch of
      munchlist is useful, as in the following example:

           $ munchlist -c oldaffixes -l newaffixes olddict > newdict

      If you use this procedure, your new dictionary will always accept the
      same list the original did, even if you badly screwed up the affix
      file.  This is because munchlist compares the words generated by a
      flag with the original word list, and refuses to use any flags that
      generate illegal words.  (But don't forget that the munchlist step
      takes a long time and eats up temporary file space).

      As an example of conditional suffixes, here is the specification of
      the S flag from the English affix file:

           flag *S:
               [^AEIOU]Y  >    -Y,IES    # As in imply > implies
               [AEIOU]Y   >    S         # As in convey > conveys
               [SXZH]     >    ES        # As in fix > fixes

                                   - 10 -           Formatted:  July 6, 2022

 ISPELL(5)                                                         ISPELL(5)

               [^SXZHY]   >    S         # As in bat > bats

      The first line applies to words ending in Y, but not in vowel-Y.  The
      second takes care of the vowel-Y words.  The third then handles those
      words that end in a sibilant or near-sibilant, and the last picks up
      everything else.

      Note that the conditions are written very carefully so that they apply
      to disjoint sets of words.  In particular, note that the fourth line
      excludes words ending in Y as well as the obvious SXZH.  Otherwise, it
      would convert "imply" into "implys".

      Although the English affix file does not do so, you can also have a
      flag generate more than one variation on a root word.  For example, we
      could extend the English "R" flag as follows:

           flag *R:
              E           >    R         # As in skate > skater
              E           >    RS        # As in skate > skaters
              [^AEIOU]Y   >    -Y,IER    # As in multiply > multiplier
              [^AEIOU]Y   >    -Y,IERS   # As in multiply > multipliers
              [AEIOU]Y    >    ER        # As in convey > conveyer
              [AEIOU]Y    >    ERS       # As in convey > conveyers
              [^EY]       >    ER        # As in build > builder
              [^EY]       >    ERS       # As in build > builders

      This flag would generate both "skater" and "skaters" from "skate".
      This capability can be very useful in languages that make use of noun,
      verb, and adjective endings.  For instance, one could define a single
      flag that generated all of the German "weak" verb endings.


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