Custom Pennsylvania Dutch Dictionary for Microsoft Word and LibreOffice

Click here to download a custom Pennsylvania Dutch dictionary (last updated March 29, 2021) for Microsoft Word.

Click here to download a custom Pennsylvania Dutch dictionary (last updated March 29, 2021) for LibreOffice.

By adding this file to Microsoft Word or LibreOffice, as explained below, Microsoft Word or LibreOffice will check the spelling of Pennsylvania Dutch words you type in any document. Please note that because of length restrictions imposed by LibreOffice, the custom dictionary for LibreOffice does not include verb conjugations and adjective declensions. However, its length still exceeds that permitted by LibreOffice and, therefore, may not work properly.

Instructions on How to Add the Custom Dictionary to Microsoft Word

First, you should save the custom dictionary in the folder where Word keeps custom dictionaries. Although this step is not necessary (Word can access a custom dictionary saved in any folder on your computer), it is best to store it where Microsoft recommends that you save it.

Microsoft Word maintains custom dictionaries in the following places (in Windows computers):

C:\Users\%username%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\UProof\

C:\Documents and Settings\%username%\Application Data\Microsoft\Proof\

The first location above is the likely place where you should copy the custom dictionary after you have downloaded it. This is where modern (within the last 10 years) versions of Microsoft Word keep custom dictionaries. If this location does not exist, try the second location above. If neither of these locations exist, use an Internet search engine to find the location for custom dictionaries for your version of Microsoft Word.

Second, you need to tell Microsoft Word to start using the custom Pennsylvania Dutch dictionary.

In versions of Word prior to Word 2007:

  1. Click the Tools->Options menu item.
  2. Click the Spelling & Grammar tab.
  3. Click the Custom Dictionaries button.
  4. Click the Add button.
  5. Navigate to the dictionary, select it and click the Open button. The dictionary should now be added to the dictionary list box.
  6. To be in use, it has to have a check in its checkbox.
  7. Click OK.

In Word 2007 and later:

  1. Click on the File menu in the upper-left corner of the window, or if it doesn't exist, on the round Office button in the upper-left corner of the window.
  2. Click the Word Options button.
  3. Click Proofing.
  4. Continue as in Step 3 above for versions of Word prior to Word 2007.

Instructions on How to Add the Custom Dictionary to LibreOffice

First, you must save the custom dictionary in the folder where LibreOffice keeps custom dictionaries.

LibreOffice maintains custom dictionaries in the following places:

Windows computers: C:\Users\%username%\AppData\Roaming\LibreOffice\4\user

Apple computers: /Users/%username%/Library/Application Support/LibreOffice/4/user

Second, you need to tell LibreOffice to start using the custom Pennsylvania Dutch dictionary:

  1. Exit LibreOffice if open and restart it.
  2. Click on the Tools menu on the top of the screen.
  3. Select Spelling.
  4. Click Options.
  5. In the window that appears, select the box next to "PD_custom_dictionary_Libre".
  6. Click OK.

Notes on Orthographies

Spell checking Pennsylvania Dutch text can be difficult because of the variety of spelling rules employed by the various orthographies of the dialect. Writers often employ the Buffington-Barba orthography, which is generally detailed in their grammar. There is some uncertainty regarding the rules of their orthography, which has led to small differences in the spellings of words in works that follow their orthography.

Rules are valuable in determining how words should be spelled. The most complete set of spelling rules is provided in C. Richard Beam et al.’s, The Comprehensive Pennsylvania German Dictionary. It seems most logical, therefore, to follow such an orthography, which is called the Buffington-Barba-Beam orthography. We have tried to do so with this dictionary, although there are some differences, as noted elsewhere on this site.

By creating an electronic dictionary, we have been able to programmatically create a list of all of the words in the dictionary on this site and to conjugate them per the rules of Pennsylvania Dutch. The result is a comprehensive list of Pennsylvania Dutch words.