Pre-Sale Inquiry


I am very interested in your software however I have a small question before I can decide if your software will work for me. I am Native American (Mohawk) and my people’s language often have guttural stops in the middle of words represented by a colon “:” . In many of your competitor’s applications (Storyist, etc) the dictionary/spelling tool often interprets these as TWO separate words and thus will not allow me to add the native language words to the dictionary because of the split using the colon. I see that if you highlight a word in Scrivener you can ‘teach’ the dictionary/spelling tool. Will this work with the spelling conditions I explained above (there are others but the colon separation, while correct for Mohawk, is the most common)? I would like to know about this in particular as the ability to teach it words beyond the common English, Italian, etc would be of great benefit to myself.

Is this possible?


Hi William,
I am just a user of the program, but I will give you my best answer and someone else will correct me if I am wrong.

The text system that Scrivener uses is provided by Apple - all of the system-wide functionality, which includes and spelling and grammar check, comes as part of this. Scrivener does not have its own programmed spelling checker. Basically, Scrivener will behave exactly the same as TextEdit in this regard.

That being said, I have no idea about the specifics of inserting colons between words etc. But you can download the application for a free 30-day trial, and test it out for yourself.


I’m afraid that, as Matt says, Scrivener just uses the built-in OS X spelling system and dictionary… I find it strange that it doesn’t support Native American, but testing it out, you are right - it doesn’t play well with colons in the middle of words. It might be taking this up with Apple, or searching the web to see if there is a solution to using the OS X dictionary with Native American, as this must be a global issue for Native American Mac users. Do you have this issue in most other programs too?

As a further shot in the dark, from another user: it might be worth having a look at CocoAspell. I used to use that until the Apple spell checker got a bit more sophisticated. I don’t know if it will be happy with colons in the middle of words, but it was/is more flexible than the Apple spell check, and comes in a much wider range of languages with their individual requirements.

I know nothing about Mohawk, but you could use a kludge to get round it … when typing, use a letter which doesn’t occur in the Mohawk alphabet, which the spell-checker should accept and can be taught, and then, when you have done, do a search and replace-all of that letter with a colon.

Kludgy, I know, but it might get round your problem in the meantime.


Thanks all for responding so quickly!

I was sort of hoping that maybe there would be an option to set up a custom dictionary (much like Word does…though I recognize that Scrivener is not a word processor) that the spell checker would use in addition to any built in languages the OS supplies.

I guess I will keep plugging along with what I have in the interim and keep searching for something along those lines in the future.


She:kon! I don’t write in Kanienkeha, but can appreciate the problem. Two things come to mind besides the advice already given above.

  1. The use of the colon as a letter instead of punctuation presents an additional problem, as Mac OS prohibits “:” in file names. There’s a good reason: The colon is used in path names that show a file’s location, much like the “/” in Windows. For example, “A work of genius.scriv” might have the path name “Macintosh HD:Users:rob:Documents:A work of genius.scriv”. So the Mac file system thinks colons have a special meaning.

  2. Unicode might solve this problem. There may be a Unicode character that looks like a colon but is defined with a different code, so computers treat it as a character, not as punctuation. I launched Unicode Checker (a free app), searched for “colon,” and found a few likely candidates: esp. fullwidth colon [U+FF1A] and small colon [U+FE55]. A definitive answer might be available from an Iroquoian linguist or from someone at SIL International. Check their Ethnologue website.

If you go this route, make sure your writing is always distributed in Unicode (UTF-8) encoding. This is important for web publishing in particular, as many websites use a different encoding by default — usually ISO-8859-1. Catchy name, isn’t it?

  1. Oh, if you follow xiamenese’s advice about substituting another character for the colon, I recommend the section sign [§], easily accessed with option-6. It’s seldom used except by lawyers and stands out on a page so you don’t forget to search and replace it.


  • Rob

I had a look at both SIL and Ethnologue, but found nothing on their sites that helped with Mohawk, though there could well be someone you could contact through them. I did try the “Modifier letter triangular colon” from the Phonetic Symbols page of the Character palette — ː — but spell-checker treated that as punctuation and treated the preceding string and following string as separate words. While alarob’s suggestion is a good one visually, how does the spell checker treat that.

From Ethnologue, it seems Mohawk uses a very limited character list, so there must be other letters that are available which would definitely not be treated as punctuation … V perhaps, if I remember rightly?