Dictionary Problem

I’m writing historical fiction, so I need to be able to remove anachronistic words from the dictionary. (not words I’ve added but words that are already there by default.)
Any tips on how to do this? Searching for offending words in my novel seems a bit perverse when there’s a dictionary feature.

On my computer, there’s a file C:\Program Files (x86)\Scrivener\Aspell\dict\en-only.rws. It’s 3.85 MB and seems to contain the spelling words. But it’s not a plain-text file (though the words are visible), and I wouldn’t edit it if it were me.

But would you really want to scan through a list containing thousands, if not tens of thousands, of words, rather than proofreading your own MS (which you’ll do at some point anyway) to catch problem words?

I suppose what’s really needed is a set of historical spelling dictionaries, one for each era of English. That way, if, say, someone in the story writes a letter to another character, you could be sure that not only the vocabulary but the spelling is authentic. It would be interesting to know if such a thing exists.

lol - I took a look at the file and yes, it would be far easier to check the manuscript in the old-fashioned way!
It’s hard to believe there isn’t a more hand-held way of managing dictionaries in applications/OS. As you say, whole period-specific dictionaries might be the way to go. I’ll do some googling and will post back here if I find anything suitable.

If you have an “allowed” word list, you could hack this by setting up your personal word list (which is just a plain-text file, saved at %LOCALAPPDATA%\Scrivener\Scrivener\wordlists.ini) with all those allowed words, then changing the dictionary in Scrivener to a language other than what you’re writing in, preferably one that won’t have shared words. Spell check will then flag anything not on your personal word list, and you can check up on those words for historical accuracy. Right-click any “misspelled” word to add it to your word list if you decide it’s acceptable.

The wordlists file is just a comma-separated list of words, so you can bulk-edit it easily. Add a single word to the list via Scrivener’s interface (from the Corrections options) to start, so the file is created; then just modify that directly in a plain-text editor and restart Scrivener to work with it. You can’t have multiple wordlists in use at a time, but you could swap it out easily with another when needed (and rename it to something descriptive when it’s not in use).

This is brilliant, MM. (Not that I’m surprised! :smiley: )

This also helps me realize that I can take a much larger personal word list that I’ve developed over many years in another application (also plain text, though in a different format) and massage it to work in Scrivener, so I don’t have to recreate, over time, that list in Scriv. Thanks!

EDIT: Before I do that, though, I notice that in wordlists.ini there is a string \x2019s that appears several times at (to me) unpredictable intervals. Can you tell me what that’s about?

The word list is literally just a basic list, so adding “Chewbacca” won’t prevent “Chewbacca’s” from being flagged; it would have to be added separately. If the right apostrophe is curly (smart) rather than straight, it will be encoded as \x2019. If you’re adding in bulk, convert any apostrophes on your list to straight ASCII characters before adding them for simplicity. (It doesn’t matter which you use, though. So long as one version is on the list, you can use straight or smart quotes in Scrivener and the word will be recognised.)

Ah thanks, I thought it might be something like that. It’s a piece of cake to convert smart to straight quotes in the other program, and to convert one-word-per-line to comma-delimited. I can then copy that into wordlists.ini. Super!

Just wanted to say that I did this successfully, and “imported” 2,733 words that I’d marked acceptable in the other software into Scrivener. Writing will be even faster now!