Provided by: ispell_3.4.00-6build1_amd64 bug


       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

       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 necessary:)

                   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.

       (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

       (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).

       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:

              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:

              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 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 line.

              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 language.

              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 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 characters.

       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 language.

              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 characters.

              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

              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

       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 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 conditions:

              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
                  [^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

              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



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