Ask Your Question

Simultaneously use two languages in one document

asked 2016-06-06 21:52:29 +0100

RJD gravatar image

Hi all, I've decided to try LibreOffice for the first time tonight. I use Word to type documents containing 2 languages - Irish and English.

I'd like to be able to have spellcheck auto check the whole document without having to manually decide between which language to use. I don't have defined paragraphs in the languages.. as a teacher I have both languages dispersed throughout the documents and manually switching isnt an option.

I have added a dictionary extension as per the instructions (Gaelspell) but there is no option for me to combine this with English UK from what I can see. I only have the English US option to tick under English UK.

The desired outcome (as I have with word) is to write the document and have the software checking the words in realtime and only underlining them if they don't appear in either the English or Irish dictionaries. Can someone guide me towards achieving that?

Im using a Mac with


edit retag flag offensive close merge delete

4 Answers

Sort by » oldest newest most voted

answered 2018-08-16 16:24:40 +0100

avlass gravatar image

I use Linux mint and Ubuntu. The spellcheking language does not change automatically, when I change keyboard layouts.

I have to use a combined English and Greek dictionary and Mark everything as Greek to get combined spellcheking (of course this only works for these two languages.

I often write English words withing Greek text (IT terminology mostly) and it is virtually impossible to mark the language of every word manually). We have said this time and again, but nothing happens. Amazingly enough WPS Office supports such a feature!

edit flag offensive delete link more


Isn't OptionsLanguage SettingsLanguagesIgnore system input language set for you?

Mike Kaganski gravatar imageMike Kaganski ( 2018-08-16 19:05:18 +0100 )edit

answered 2016-06-07 08:25:29 +0100

ajlittoz gravatar image

For that outcome, your text must be tagged with a language property. This is done through "styling".

For whole paragraphs in one language, define their own Text Body paragraph style. You can keep the original one for the preponderant language. In the Font tab of the style definition (displayed after F11, then right-click Modify...), set the assigned language to English (UK). Then define a derived style with right-click New.... Give it name Text Body (Irish) in the Organizer tab; set language to Irish (if it is available) in the Font tab.

You can now give the appropriate style to the paragraphs.

For words in the alternate language in paragraphs, you must define character styles. In the Styles and Formatting floating window (F11), click on the second left small icon (the one with an a) to display the list of character styles. Right click on Default Style New.... Name it English or Irish in the Organizer tab. Set language in the Font tab.

When needed, set the character style to the alternate language to type the word or sequences of words, then reset the character style to Default Style to revert to the original language.

If you are editing, double-click (or select) a word, give it the desired character style.

Note about English (UK):

The UK-English language pack is not part of the default instalation. See question Q60659 or Q59898. You must manually load it.

Note about Irish dictionary:

In case the language does not show up (I have never tried to add a custom dictionary), you can selectively disable spellchecking by selecting language None in the Font tab.

If this helps then please tick the answer (✔) ...and/or show you like it with an uptick (∧)

edit flag offensive delete link more

answered 2018-02-20 20:57:13 +0100

In both OpenOffice and LibreOffice, the problem of spellchecking multiple languages within the same document has been there since day one (StarOffice) and I cannot understand why it's not been fixed (it's an infuriating irritation and has annoyed many of us users for years).

The problem is so bad that my pragmatic solution is to cut the text out of LibO and paste it into Microsoft Word where it's checked and corrected, then when finished I paste it back into LibO.

If you think about it, this is an absolutely ridiculous situation. LibO's developers have known about this problem from old [others and I raised the matter years ago] but they've chosen to do nothing about it. One can only assume that they take precious little notice of complaints from within these posts and or they consider fixing such a basic and prosaic LibO design limitation as too demeaning or unimportant for them to bother with.

In essence, the whole spelling/dictionary matter is a mess. Leaving aside the separate but related problems of grossly outdated dictionaries, dictionary engines with horrible and inadequate pattern recognition and the lack of any half-reasonable grammar checker, the installation and management of dictionaries per se is so bad that I know of organizations that have ditched LibO completely and returned to MSO just on that matter alone!

Even in the new version 6, many issues need addressing but here I'll keep the focus narrowly on just one aspect of the spellchecking subsystem. It's best to illustrate with an example (the one that brought me here looking for a quick fix, which I've failed so far to find).

First, the environment: the new LibreOffice 6.0 running on Windows 7 (but it's immaterial, as all past versions have been the same—same with Linux versions too).

A shortened version of the problem:

I often write documents that contain more than one language within them, and as I'm not a fully proficient speller in my second languages, I require LibreOffice to recognize spelling errors and correct them within these 'foreign' text sections.

Here are the LibO 6 setup conditions for my problem:

Default UI: en_US; Default Locale: en_AU; Default Docs: en_AU; 2nd language: de_DE (German).

Installed dictionaries: en (English, all - US, AU, GB, etc.—latest Marco Pinto); de_DE (German); Fr and Es also installed but not used here.

  1. Start by writing in English.

  2. Then change to writing in German, then set (flag) that section as 'German' by highlighting it, then selecting the German language in Styles (why Language is hidden in Styles is of itself a $64,000 question.)

  3. Then proceed to see if the second language speller (de_DE) is actually working by deliberately misspelling common words in the 2nd language (from long experience, one must always do this with LibO, it's too risky to just assume it works—invariably it doesn't).

  4. The test failed (you'd think by version 6 it'd be ...

edit flag offensive delete link more


the problem of spellchecking multiple languages

And what is that problem? I see none really, see my answer to the original question.

set (flag) that section as 'German' by highlighting it, then selecting the German language

Tip: first, try the language selector in the status bar

gabix gravatar imagegabix ( 2018-02-21 08:40:40 +0100 )edit

misspelt test word 'Strassenbahnn' … is not detected as an error.

  1. Created a blank text document.
  2. Pasted Strassenbahnn.
  3. Defined German (Germany) as the language for the above word.
  4. The word is detected as misspelled, four correction options are suggested (however, Straßenbahn is not among the suggestions).

Using LO on MS Windows 7, DE-Frami German spellcheck extension.

gabix gravatar imagegabix ( 2018-02-21 08:47:43 +0100 )edit

@gabix: in "modern" German spelling, ß is dropped in favor of ss. This may be the reason for not finding Straßenbahn.

ajlittoz gravatar imageajlittoz ( 2018-02-21 10:01:49 +0100 )edit

The respective Wikipedia article is Straßenbahn. As I understand, that ß-less spelling is not fully adopted neither in Germany, nor in Austria.

Nonetheless, what I wanted to say is that spellcheck generally works perfect in LibreOffice (when you use direct language formatting or styles, both solutions are fine). Particular dictionaries may, yes, have flaws. And I still don't, really don't understand what's the problem.

gabix gravatar imagegabix ( 2018-02-21 12:20:20 +0100 )edit

Since the dictionaries are free and available, it should be reasonably easy to fork them into one with and without ß?

Perhaps the community could be used to improve the dictionaries, by adding a 'upload word' button to the spell correction box? Or (opt-in) prompt users once a month to review their custom words if they want to upload some of them. Then on the backend, they could be counted and forwarded to the different dictionary communities. And a plugin/sign-in to send advanced corrections?

MBB gravatar imageMBB ( 2018-06-17 19:52:09 +0100 )edit

answered 2018-02-21 08:19:33 +0100

gabix gravatar image

I routinely create and edit documents in two and even more languages (English, Russian, German, Belarusian, Spanish, French, Esperanto, Portuguese and more in various combinations). I don't see any problem because LibreOffice automatically switches the text language when I switch the keyboard layout. This works fine with openSUSE Linux and Microsoft Windows. So, perhaps the problem is specific to Mac? Then just use a good operating system! Or, maybe, Irish? I have never had a need to use this language.

edit flag offensive delete link more


So do I, no problem. My workflow is diferent from yours: I don't switch keyboard layout, just select the adequate paragraph/character (custom) styles to avoid as much as possible direct formatting. Works like a charm.

ajlittoz gravatar imageajlittoz ( 2018-02-21 10:00:09 +0100 )edit

As far as I know, you have to switch the layouts when you need both English and Irish, as Irish uses extra characters as compared to English.

gabix gravatar imagegabix ( 2018-02-21 12:27:58 +0100 )edit

The need for extra characters is the only reason to switch layouts. I chose to customise keyboard disposition (which is relatively easy under Linux) because I was not satisfied with built-ins, notably because most 2nd or 3rd modifier alternatives are based on US-English visual similarities not corrected for effective locale keyboard. I also extended the set of available characters to cover all of Latin-base, Latin-supplement and most of Latin-extension A in a single layout.

ajlittoz gravatar imageajlittoz ( 2018-02-21 14:19:09 +0100 )edit
Login/Signup to Answer

Question Tools

1 follower


Asked: 2016-06-06 21:52:29 +0100

Seen: 1,944 times

Last updated: Aug 16 '18