What word processor handles foreign languages well?
January 26, 2012 1:41 PM   Subscribe

Is there a word processing program that can spell-check multiple languages in one document?

I write a lot of documents that feature text in multiple languages--for my purposes, English as well as German and Turkish, sometimes French and Spanish, and potentially others in the future. The fact that Microsoft Word constantly auto-corrects my foreign languages irritates me, having to mark my texts to say what language they are irritates me, and the squiggly red lines all over my footnotes irritate me.

Is there a word processor that handles multiple foreign languages really well? I'm on a Mac and willing to pay, although a student discount would sure be nice.
posted by besonders to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Microsoft Word does this. Simply change the language of the text to the correct one.
posted by kindall at 1:59 PM on January 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

The OP says that he/she doesn't want to have to mark texts with the language.
posted by theredpen at 2:02 PM on January 26, 2012

I write in both English and Swedish in the same document, using both Word 2010 and Open Office, and both of them do a fairly good job of auto-sensing the language you are using and applying the correct spelling dictionary.

In Word, this requires "enabling" the languages you want to use, and checking the "detect language automatically" checkbox. It also requires that you have spelling dictionaries for the languages you are using.

At home, I mostly use Open Office for this, because I didn't want to pay extra for the Swedish dictionary in Word, since the Open Office plugin dictionary is free.
posted by gemmy at 2:19 PM on January 26, 2012 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Ooh, I see, perhaps the problem is that I still have Office 2008. Does the "detect language" thing kick in quickly, though, or do you have to write a paragraph or so first?

My problem is that my writing is mostly in English, and then I quote one sentence in French, and then there's a German book title, and then some more English, and then another German book title, and then hey, here's a three word phrase in Italian for you. So I can be marking "What language is this" twelve times on one page. I really want a program where I could say "This document is in English, German, and French, so roll with it" and the program would roll with it.
posted by besonders at 6:33 PM on January 26, 2012

Best answer: perhaps the problem is that I still have Office 2008

My understanding is that Word 2008 is fairly similar to the version I'm using, so I'm not sure if that's it. You might try downloading the 30-day trial version of the most recent Word (2011), to see if it is any better than the version you have. And Libre Office (an updated branch of Open Office) is free and worth downloading to test.

Does the "detect language" thing kick in quickly, though, or do you have to write a paragraph or so first?

For me it's pretty easy, because Swedish has several letters not present in English, and I use ALT+SHIFT to also switch between keyboards when I switch languages. I can type one or two words, and it will pick up the language right away. Not sure if it will be quite as easy for any program to distinguish French/Italian/German, particularly if you are using the normal US keyboard to type.
posted by gemmy at 7:46 PM on January 26, 2012

This doesn't answer your question, but if you can't find an alternative it might be possible to make language-marking less annoying by creating a macro for it. Then you can bind that macro to some key combination or even a single key (F9 or something) and thus reduce the amount of time you need to spend thinking about it.
posted by trig at 2:02 AM on January 27, 2012

Response by poster: Maybe the real answer is to stop working on Switzerland.

Thanks, though, for your answers!
posted by besonders at 6:47 AM on January 27, 2012

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