Spell-checking in Armenian – a nightmare

The only working solution for spell-checking my Armenian language texts is the Armenian PowerSpell 2009 which is expensive – costs 9000 AMD per year for the one computer license.

The program adds spelling option to Microsoft Word. It works, however, it is not the ideal solution because, while it claims having 500,000 word dictionary, I found that it doesn’t recognize a surprisingly lot of Armenian words. To be fair th0ugh, the program has an “Add to dictionary” option.

Also, forget about spell-as-you-type option, and I also found the program to be very demanding in terms of computer resources – quite slow! Armenian PowerSpell 2009 is a combination of a standalone program (which looks like an Access database shield) and a Visual Basic Macro, which installs into Microsoft Word. The Macro is locked – so you can’t view or edit the program, which is quite frustrating, because I’ve seen a couple of errors and would like to correct those (e.g. the Macro doesn’t recognize the Armenian question mark and the ՛եւ՛ letter). Above all – I don’t like proprietary software, when I know that there ought to be better open source options.

Armenian language is not listed in Microsoft Proofing Tools page – so I assume it’s not supported by Microsoft, even as there is a Microsoft office in Armenia.

Armenian is not listed in Open Office v3 language extensions either – although, years ago, there was a release of the Armenian language Open Office.

There is also something called the ArmSpell Project which doesn’t really provide anything useful if you’re on Windows, and I have yet to test the Linux stuff they’re offering.


10 thoughts on “Spell-checking in Armenian – a nightmare

  1. is there a government institution which should be responsible for this?
    why the hell do we as taxpayers support such useless structures as “lezvi teschutyun”, if they are unable to solve such an elementary issue?

  2. I think the best solution for spell check would be through the dictionary option in Firefox. I wish I had time to start a dictionary for it.

    But, again, there is the issue of the Armenian fonts. There is no standard in Armenian fonts but the safest option would be to stick with Unicode.

  3. I was told that good spell checkers do not rely on dictionary but mainly use the logic and ‘rules’ of a language. I guess it is called morphology. I cant remember the details now (it was too technical) but it sounded pretty interesting stuff. If you know the logic you can easily learn new languages even the extinct ones (probably they were deciphered based on this concept). This same technique is now being used to teach robots to speak ( field called: computational linguistic). Some language groups share the same logic. Armenian being an Indo-European language might share some things but because it is in its own distinctive branch maybe not much. Bringing linguists with IT people will be a way in having a proper spell checker, a proper job for an academic institution.

  4. Payqar, I can see rules being supplemental to a dictionary as there are a number of rules for spelling. But there has to be a dictionary as well. It would be exciting to start an open source spell check project for Armenian. Now that we have a state, this is something that can be done formally – previously things like this have been achieved through the sheer will of devoted individuals (like Ajarian).

    But that’s something that will need to be done once we have a government that actually cares about the future of the country. It will not happen under a banditocracy.

  5. Guys, forget about government, banditocracy, etc..
    Vast majority of things in world of open source was at least started, if not completely created by enthusiasts, and ppl who just cared.
    The less governments (any, including US) are putting their nose in such projects, the better

  6. Sorry guys, but it has been over a year, and I am successfully making a great Armenian spell checker. It will be released soon, and is called HySpell integrated directly into Microsoft Office 2007 and above.
    Please spread the word, and patiently wait for its release.
    Dr. Haro Mherian

  7. I came across this blog while looking for an Armenian spell checker. Good to know HySpell will be released soon!

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