December 8, 2008

Petition for Australian English

The Macquarie Dictionary is attempting the impossible: putting together a petition to try to compel Microsoft and Apple to acknowledge and provide an Australian dictionary with their products.

In the words of the form email provided:

"As an Australian I believe that I have the right to express myself in my own variety of English."


Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi!

P.S - Don't let the need for an email address put you off. What? You don't believe Microsoft already know your email address? Use your secondary address, or if you don't have one, get one.

Email your support here ... scroll down the page.


First handy-dandy fact: if you hang about with the page open for too long (say, ten minutes), before eventually get around to remembering to fill in the blanks and hit the submit button, you get thrown out to the logon page because the petition page has timed out. Cure: start again, refresh the page.

Second handy-dandy fact: following my written inquiry, Macquarie kindly provided the following, by way of explanation for the petition, seeing as MS Word 7 ostensibly does have an Aussie spellcheck option (as helpfully evidenced in the comments by Aussie ex-patriot Dylan):
"Regarding the Spellchecker, yes Word comes with an Australian English option. It has, for many years, come with this option but it was Microsoft's version of Australian English which wasn't particularly Australian (for example, it would accept 'realize', with a 'z', as correct). So we produced the Macquarie wordlist and to do this we required Microsoft to give us the software that could produce the correct files specific to Microsoft Word's spell checking system. In recent years Microsoft has upgraded Word and changed the spell checking system but has not given us the updated software to produce the spell checking files in the new format. To produce a Macquarie spell checking wordlist for Word we need Microsoft to give us the right software OR to include our wordlist as the default Australian English. It's obviously a commercial decision for Microsoft (and Apple) to include external data in their software products and one way to influence those sorts of decisions is with consumer pressure. We already received lots of requests for an updated spell checker so we though we'd make the most of that. Hence the petition."
So, there you have it!


  1. Strike me bloody pink!

    Where's Jack when I need him.....

  2. Anonymous12:14 AM

    Microsoft Word 2007 already has an Australian dictionary - a screenshot of my language options is here. The program even recognises when I am writing in Aussie English (using 's' instead of 'z', for example) and will change to the language it imagines I desire automatically (that's what the check box on the bottom of the screenshot is for). Only ever causes problems when you quote from an American source that has the word 'realize' or something like that and the bloody program will change to US English from that point on. Gotta keep an eye on it! :)

  3. Ah, see, you are one of 4 and a half people who have Word 2007.

    Must upgrade one of these days, but I'm waiting for Vista to pass and Windows 7 to dawn, as I want a new PC, so will wait to get all new op system & software all in one big bang.

    Which begs the question why Macquarie is suddenly on a crusade. In will drop them a note to ask!

  4. Ain't nothin' quite like a "big bang" Caz.

    Please report when you indulge....

  5. Anonymous8:48 PM

    Dylan said: " Aussie English (using "s" instead of "z" for example)."
    No, that's "English" English, not Aussie English..

    "English" - used in Australia - uses "s", rather than "American" English, which uses "z".

    Your program, for whatever reason, wants you to use American English. That may be the way to go.

  6. I suspect my MS software, like all software, has no consciousness, will, or motive, and therefore, doesn't give a hoot what spelling I use.

    Of course, I will retract that statement promptly as soon as the day comes that a garden variety piece of software tells me that it wants me to become a vegetarian, or to dye my hair blonde, or to spell like an American, and so on and so forth.

  7. Anonymous4:30 AM

    Anon: "Your program, for whatever reason, wants you to use American English. That may be the way to go."

    The default language for my computer and my MS products (as highlighted in the pic) is actually French. The other two are options and I use the Australian one most of the time (some journals/conferences are particular about their spelling and grammar so I have to change).

    Caz, Office 2007 is amazing. There was a little bit of a learning curve but for academic writing it is great. All the footnoting and integration of a few other programs for referening (EndNote for me) makes writing really easy. Vista hasn't been so bad but it seems Windows 7 is coming up quick enough that trading up from XP doesn't seem too worth it. The laptop still runs XP (with Office 2007, too) and handles everything well enough.

  8. Yes, I'm rather over the entire old MS suite Dylan, and yearn for something fresh, with sparkly new capability. Given that much of my working life is spent documenting and templating, one way or another, for one thing or another, I am rather more intimate with MS every MS glitch and random thinking than I would like to be.

    Even Vista looks like an awfully sexy platform, but for home use I'll pass, no point now, it would be like investing in Beta.

    Don't mind learning the new tricks of new software, have already started collecting tips for Word 2007, such as setting up styles and so, all of which is rather different to the ancient version that I use at work, or even at home.

    Still, it's a way off. No launch date for the new Windows yet, so will have to wait for that. Then wait for service pack I (as ya do, hee, hee), THEN I'll be ready to consider the "big upgrade" - beaut new box and all.