Talk:Spell checker

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I think the history section could do with a re-write. "The spell command appeared in Version 6 AT&T UNIX". UNIX Version 6 came out in 1975 ( I suggest that the section is qualified with personal computers and references to UNIX and VMS are removed. Philip Baird Shearer 17:41, 8 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I don't think anyone would mind if you be bold. I don't really know enough about the topic. Deco 03:06, 9 Feb 2005 (UTC)
As we are talking personal computers, I added in the TRS-80, which was at least as significant as CP/M at the time. I could point to a contemporary article on TRS-80 spell checkers, but its in a big PDF file. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Hellinar (talkcontribs) 23:46, 9 June 2008 (UTC)

Inline Spellchecking[edit]

In the late '80s there was small a word-processor called PC Write that would click at you (once) whenever you finished typing a word it didn't recognize. After that once incident, in-line spell-checking disappeared for a long time (requiring scanning as a regular chore) until it appeared in (I think) a Windows 3.1-era MS Word edition was released that featured the jaggy red lines that are now everywhere and are standard practice. This was a major development in spell checker interface design, and there should be a chapter, at least in the history section, that talks about it.

Myself, I'm a lazy bastard, but if this is left alone and no one objects, I'll write up a blurb and leave it to someone else to verify it or find citations. Uriel-238 (talk) 19:22, 8 May 2013 (UTC)

Spell checkerSpelling checker[edit]

Maybe Harry Potter needs the former, muggles need the latter. Jordi· 11:22, 8 Feb 2005 (UTC)

  • While it seems "spell checker" is more frequently used, the pedant in me agrees with you.Ливай | 12:55, 8 Feb 2005 (UTC)
  • Oppose. With more and more dictionaries including the verb "spellcheck" (used in the article itself, in fact) the (by far) more common term wins out. ADH (t&m) 13:03, Feb 8, 2005 (UTC)
  • Oppose, it's called spell checker everywhere. Grue 13:54, 8 Feb 2005 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Wikipedia is descriptive, not proscriptive. dbenbenn | talk 15:26, 8 Feb 2005 (UTC)
    • And how is keeping it at one spelling variant ("spell variant") more non-"proscriptive" than keeping at the other? Jordi· 15:34, 8 Feb 2005 (UTC)
  • Oppose This is a British/US variant issue. It cannot be solved by moving from one variant to the other--leave it where it is and document the variants in the article (which has been done). --Tony Sidaway|Talk 16:11, 8 Feb 2005 (UTC)
  • Oppose, questioning whether there is (now - maybe there was once) a British/US distinction, and noting that the article is in category "spelling checking programs". "Spell check/er" is now dominant usage. Rd232 00:08, 9 Feb 2005 (UTC)
  • Oppose This is not a British/US variant issue. Spell checker is the commoner name everywhere. -- Derek Ross | Talk 18:59, Feb 10, 2005 (UTC)
  • "spell checker" is not "by far" the most common term, it is more common due to widespread illiteracy and the fact that those who use the correct term commonly include the incorrect one as well, but not the other way round. If Wikipedia is "descriptive and not proscriptive", then it should mention the fact that "spell checker" is widely considered wrong.
  • Oppose. We've moved this back and forth enough already. Feel free to add a brief mention of popular disagreement over the proper name. Deco 10:29, 12 January 2006 (UTC)
If the article is titled “Spell checker”, shouldn’t the article reflect that by using the same spelling? Otherwise it should be moved to “Spelling checker”, which as of this writing is the spelling that the article actually uses. —Frungi 01:34, 22 July 2007 (UTC)

Poem Edited[edit]

I don't know if we're allowed to change the poem or not, I really liked it but I made a couple of alterations.

"Key" was spelt correctly, even tho the word "Quay" (as in what you may find at a harbour) is pronounce exactly the same. Also the "and" that followed "key/quay" has been changed to "an".

I'm going to change this back, if only because the word "quay" is not widely known and its pronunciation is not obvious. Also, we're really trying to exhibit one of commonly circulated versions, not generate our own version. Deco 01:40, 10 July 2005 (UTC)
"the word "quay" is not widely known and its pronunciation is not obvious" What part of the world do you live in, that 'quay' is not a well-known word?
I never heard of it. I live in California. — Daniel 04:35, 15 February 2006 (UTC)
The word "quay" is used far more (based on the number of results from a Google search) than place names that you've probably heard of, like Monterey Prowsej (talk) 18:36, 1 June 2009 (UTC)
Illinois. I seriously would've read "Quay" as "Kway" if I hadn't seen this discussion. I suppose one way to overcome the familiarity barrier is to make it into a wikilink, but to look up the pronunciation of words in this poem would kind of be counterproductive. Pottersson (talk) 19:11, 1 May 2010 (UTC)

On the poem[edit]

The poem in this page belongs to someone. The question is who. The first version I encountered came on a piece of paper I found on a desk at the grade school I was attending at the time. The second version - which is probably the original - was published in The Journal of Irreproducible Results. The third version (the one in this article) appears to be the product of exstensive wiki editing. -Litefantastic 18:54, 3 May 2006 (UTC)

I agree that the poem has to be attributed. My little search reveals the following: The poem was written by Jerrold H. Zar on 29 June 1992, under the title "Candidate for a Pullet Surprise". [1] According to Zar, he was inspired by a single-stanza poem written by Mark Eckman. Zar's original poem had 9 stanzas but did not include as many spelling errors as the version currently on the Wikipedia page. Zar himself claims to have written the poem in 1992, but it has also been published (under his name) in a journal in 1994. [2] At best, I think the Wikipedia page should attribute the poem to him. -- (talk) 10:00, 26 November 2009 (UTC)

On the poem's note[edit]

The spellchecker for Microsoft Office Word 2002, for example, can and does check grammar. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Aleph2.0 (talkcontribs) .

To be precise, the spell checker (red squiggle) and grammar checker (green squiggle) are two separate pieces of software in Word. --Mikko Silvonen 10:54, 8 July 2006 (UTC)

A little off topic: Spell Checking Wiki entries[edit]

Is there any way to spell check as I make edits or create entries to the Wikipedia? I notice Yahoo Mail amd .Mac have nifty Javascript checkers within the browser edit window. --Navstar 06:10, 11 June 2006 (UTC)

To Navstar - Link suggestion and a suggestion for spell checking.
I would like to suggest external links to the following sites which contain dictionary files for use with many of the spell checkers.
Hunspell/Myspell dictionaries -
Australian English dictionaries Hunspell/Myspell/Aspell -
Aspell dictionaries -
For spell checking a Wikipedia entry the Australian English dictionaries page contains spell checking information for Internet Explorer, Opera and Firefox.
It is not appropriate in any case for me to add the links as I maintain the Australian English dictionary files. Audictionary 12:26, 4 February 2007 (UTC)

Navstar, since you use .Mac, I assume you have a Mac. Any well-behaved app will spell check for you. As I type this, for instance, your name and .Mac are underlined in red. Edit menu -> Spelling -> Spelling… (⇧⌘:) should bring up the spell check window. —Frungi 13:53, 16 August 2007 (UTC)

On the use of the word 'phonetic'[edit]

In the Functionality section there is mention of the first spell checkers not being so helpful for logical or phonetic errors. I'm not sure how the word 'phonetic' applies here. Can anyone clarify? Novernae 04:39, 12 December 2006 (UTC)

Not phonetic in the sense of the International Phonetic Alphabet, but in relation to homophones, examples like their/there, your/you're and bow/bough, which are very commonly confused; as well as ones with more restricted frequency, for example based on regional accent, such as one I saw on Wikipedia today, with all do respect.
Nuttyskin (talk) 15:55, 15 May 2009 (UTC)

Merging with grammar checker[edit]

Grammar checking softwares check spell + grammar. This is why Microsoft Word checker is a grammar checker, and not just a spell checker. There seems to be some confusion in the article. Many things here seem to be applicable to grammar checking so merging might be a good idea. Maybe we should rename the article language checker and merge it with grammar checker too. Hiogui 21:16, 14 December 2006 (UTC)

Oppose merge. Rationale: 1) spell check describes a subset of functionality that does not always come with grammar checking; 2) spell check is a common phrase that is used to indicate the operation of checking spelling (which does not necessarily coincide with checking grammar); 3) The feature of spell checking occurs in more kinds of software than just word processors (see e.g., text editor, IDE, search engine) and for these other kinds of software, the concept of 'grammar checking' may have dramatically different meaning, or even be meaningless; 4) all the other proposals are likely to be more confusing than benefitial. dr.ef.tymac 17:08, 23 January 2007 (UTC)
Follow-up For an obvious example for why the merge is not a good idea, consider the following text:
   "all yure base are belong to us"
if someone were to type that into a search engine, a *spellcheck* would help the user find what they intended to search for, however a *grammar* check would most likely not. dr.ef.tymac 17:22, 23 January 2007 (UTC)

Added another Spell checker[edit]

I'm recommending SpellJax to be added to the list of external sites. It's free and has no advertising from what I can see. I found it through the TWiT podcast. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Stanleyshilov (talkcontribs) 03:26, 11 September 2007 (UTC)

Remove Poem?[edit]

The "poem" in this article should be removed. It does not show a spell checker or help a reader understand what a spell checker is. It simply shows the fallibility of it. It could be considered POV because of its obvious message that spell checkers are simply put bad. I think a more appropriate image to place at the top of the article would be the image near the bottom of the article. That image shows an actual spell checker rather than a poem.. YaanchSpeak! 18:21, 29 April 2007 (UTC)

So far the only rationale you've offered for removing the poem is the POV claim. The other rationales you've given may justify adding another item, but they don't justify removing the 'poem'. Moreover, your POV claim seems like a statement of your personal opinion, since nothing in the text of the poem itself, or the caption, makes any kind of value-statement about spell-checkers at all, let alone an "obvious message" that "spell checkers are bad." Therefore, I'd answer "no" to your question. dr.ef.tymac 01:24, 30 April 2007 (UTC)
I agree with Yaanch. The point of the poem is to show the ineffectualness of spelling checkers, and to provoke laughter. The former violates NPOV (unless it’s moved to a to-be-created section about said ineffectualness), and the latter is irrelevant. Unless such a section is created, or a counterexample is provided, the poem doesn’t belong. —Frungi 14:10, 16 August 2007 (UTC)
I also agree that it should be removed or moved below elsewhere in the article. To put what Yaanch says a different way, the poem can grossly misrepresent spell check software -- there is not a single word actually misspelled in the poem, but a lot of words that are the wrong ones (homophones). In my opinion, the poem should be reduced to one or two stanzas, and placed under the functionality heading. The place that the poem occupies is the area usually used for example images, it should have an image of a spell check in action, not text that highlights a well known but understandable limitation. The poem also comes with absolutely no reference as to its source. Underjack (talk) 14:10, 28 November 2007 (UTC)

Where's the article gone?[edit]

I was searching for information about spell(ing) checkers. Entering "spell checker", "spelling checker" or "spell checking program" in the search box takes me to a page with just 5 words: "Attached is the identified gaps". There's no redirection to anywhere else. Presumably there has been some kind of error, and not just a spelling error. By the way, it's not clear to me where I'm supposed to report this kind of thing in Wikipedia -- this Editing Talk seems to be the only possibility. Vic 23:44, 26 September 2007

Spell-checking other languages[edit]

I'm puzzled by the section entitled "Spell-checking other languages." I hesitate to edit it, though, in case I'm missing something. This sxn starts out:

"English is unusual in that most words used in formal writing have a single spelling that can be found in a typical dictionary, with the exception of some jargon and modified words."

It's true that most words used in formal writing can be found in typical dictionaries (with, I suspect, the significant exception of chemical names and the scientific names of plants and animals). However, I'm not sure what "single spelling" has to do with this. I would omit it, but maybe I'm missing something? If I am missing something, then it would be good to add an explanation of what it is I'm not understanding (on the assumption that other readers will be as dumb as me).

The article goes on:

"In many languages, however, it's typical to frequently combine words in new ways."

and then talks about compounding. While compounding is a problem for spell checking, and requires some computational morphology input, I imagine inflectional morphology (and for some languages, perhaps derivational morphology) is also a problem. In fact in an earlier section, the article alludes to the difficulty the inflectional morphology of Finnish and Hungarian causes for spell checking. This section should distinguish that problem from compounding, and then I would think it should talk about solutions. For some highly inflecting languages, it is virtually impossible to supply a spell checking dictionary that has all forms; you need some kind of morphological parser or transducer, such as a finite state transducer. (We're working with one such language, and I came to this article in hopes of finding pointers to how people had combined FSTs with spell correction algorithms.) Mcswell (talk) 13:56, 13 October 2008 (UTC)

In most Indo-European languages it's typical to deal with inflectional morphology by merely including all inflected forms in the dictionary; this does greatly increase dictionary size but that's not an issue. I don't offhand know of any work that deals with languages with such complex inflection that they require special processing - this appears to be a more difficult problem than dealing with compound words, since there might be spelling alteration with certain suffixes. If it turns out your work is novel, I hope you'll publish something about it. :-) Dcoetzee 00:30, 14 October 2008 (UTC)
Not to nitpick, but English uses compound words every bit as much as German, and the rules for compounding words are pretty much the same in all Germanic languages. The only difference is orthographic. English writes each element of most compound words as a single graphical word, whereas German maintains the correspondence between orthography and grammar. I don't know if anyone has done a study to see which is easier to read.Bostoner (talk) 00:14, 18 September 2009 (UTC)


This article seems to still have a conversational/informal tone, and some POV (lack of refs/citations?). Perhaps a copy edit into encyclopedic style is due.Kudpung (talk) 20:59, 15 May 2009 (UTC)


Since when is there a dictionary in a spell checker? A dictionary contains words & definitions. A spell checker contains words only without definitions (AFAIK). In database speak, a spell checker is a single column database... PERIOD. I propose changing dictionary to file.DEddy (talk) 01:51, 18 September 2009 (UTC)

The American Heritage Dictionary gives this as definition 4a of dictionary: "A list of words stored in machine-readable form for reference, as by spelling-checking software." Iain Dalton (talk) 21:22, 10 February 2010 (UTC)

this spelling wrold is freeze — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:17, 14 November 2012 (UTC)


I thought that WordPerfect did there own spell-checkers until version 6 in the 1990s. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:04, 16 September 2016 (UTC)