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The first public electronic Spanish dictionary on the Internet

The first public domain and freely distributed electronic Spanish dictionary was developed as part of the COES project, led by Santiago Rodríguez, professor of the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid’s School of Computing (FIUPM), and Jesús Carretero, now professor of the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid and former professor of the FIUPM.

COES Spanish language tools are one of the Department of Computer Systems Architecture and Technology’s (DATSI) fields of research at the FIUPM. The key objective of this research is to formalize a set of Spanish grammar rules and apply the rules to check documents written in Spanish for all-round correctness. COES has been distributed as open source software since early 1994. Even though it is over ten years old, the tool is regularly updated and can be consulted at the project web site.

The Spanish dictionary system is composed of a text format electronic dictionary, containing 53,000 terms, a file of Spanish inflectional classes and a script that can generate a binary format expanded dictionary, containing all the inflectional forms of the verbs, nouns, adjectives and the invariable forms, like adverbs and conjunctions, etc., in the dictionary of lemmas.

This set of files constitutes a Spanish dictionary containing a constantly increasing number of terms, although new versions are not released until they have been checked for correct operation. Only properly operating versions are released to the public. The current version of COES includes a spelling checker. Using the public domain ispell tool, the binary format dictionary can be integrated into a Spanish spelling checker system for Unix operating systems.

A text format dictionary of expanded forms (espa~nol.wl) can be generated from the binary format expanded electronic dictionary (espa~nol.hash) and the dictionary of lemmas (espa~nol.words).

As Infoling (an electronic newsletter on Spanish linguistics) reported, the release of the text format expanded electronic dictionary is likely to be an important event for developers—both universities and companies— of Spanish linguistic technologies that need to integrate a dictionary of inflectional forms into specific applications, especially taking into account that the COES project dictionaries are the only public domain and freely distributed electronic Spanish dictionaries.

The whole package of dictionaries and other components is composed of a file of Spanish verb, noun and adjective inflection suffixes; a list of words that appear in the Diccionario de la Real Academia Española de la Lengua (Reference work published by the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language, 21st edition); another list of words that do not appear in the Diccionario de la Real Academia Española de la Lengua, but are commonly used in the Spanish language; a list of words that are routinely used in computing, even though they are not in the Diccionario de la Real Academia Española de la Lengua.

Additionally, this set of dictionaries includes a list of words that appear in the Diccionario de la Real Academia Española de la Lengua whose meanings are in current Spanish usage, a list of expanded words, a script and a makefile file.

Eduardo Martínez | alfa
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