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Spell-checking in Armenian no longer a problem

“Armenian PowerSpell 2009” is currently the most complete spell-checking package with the ability to check up to 570,000 words and word forms.

With a bit of effort and sometimes money, users of popular word-processing software Microsoft Word can now spell-check their Armenian texts. Free of charge spell-checking alternatives are being developed for Open Office, the cross-platform and open source alternative to Microsoft’s office suite.

PanARMENIAN.Net - For users of Microsoft Word 2007, the most obvious choice is downloading the Armenian version of Microsoft Office Language Interface Pack 2007, which includes Armenian spell-check and options to change the interface language of MS Word into Armenian. With a rather limited selection of words and word-forms, the dictionary used in the spell-checker is far from being perfect, it only supports Unicode Armenian texts and lacks any type of grammar check whatsoever. On the other hand, it works seamlessly, is very fast and convenient in use.

Microsofts’ Language Interface Pack has been around since last year, and it has been downloaded several thousand times from Microsoft’s website. Grigor Barseghyan, the director of Microsoft’s representative office in Armenia estimates that the number of users of the software is about 10 thousand.

“Spell-check is one of the main reasons why most people download the Language Interface Pack,” Mr. Barseghyan told PanArmenian.net. He noted that the spell-checking option will be available in the upcoming versions of Microsoft Office suite as well.

“Armenian PowerSpell 2009”, the Armenian spellchecker with support of both Unicode and legacy ANSI encodings, is currently the most complete spell-checking package with the ability to check up to 570,000 words and word forms. The program also provides basic grammar checking. An added bonus is the fact that it works with all the latest versions of Microsoft Word, unlike Microsoft’s Language Pack, which only supports Office 2007.

The largest disadvantage of the program is the price – it comes with a 7-day free trial period, after which the users will have to pay 9000 AMD (about $ 24 US) for a one-year license. It doesn’t support “check-spelling as you type” functions of MS Word and slows down the system a little bit.

The software has been around since last spring, and although they are not advertising the software, its programmer, Arman Boshyan told PanArmenian.net, that the PowerSpell sells very well, with most publishing houses and media organizations acquiring licenses and the number of programs’ users exceeding 10,000. The free alternative for spell-checking in Armenian as part of the Armenian localization of Open Office 1.1 was released back in 2004, but the organization behind it, Union of Information Technology Enterprises (UITE) discontinued the project due to lack of resources. Derivatives of that initiative continue as of today as part of various open source projects.

Aleksey Chalabyan, an IT consultant who has been putting his volunteer time and effort into continuing the development of a spell-checker for the latest versions of OpenOffice, says he only needs a little bit of help by volunteers, preferably linguistics students, to clean up the dictionary of over 45,000 words and submit the working code to the open source project for free download for all who need it. The beta version of the program works in Open Office Writer at least as well as Microsoft’s spell-checker, and seems better at detecting some mistakes, as the spell-checking algorithm also understands word forms and word formation. Work on this open source spell-checker is especially important, as it can potentially serve a range of other software, like Mozilla’s Firefox web-browser, Thunderbird mail client, a range of open source word processors and programs, ranging from instant messengers to online editors.

Chalabyan is optimistic, and says it should be possible to finalize the open source spell-checker in the nearest future.

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