Learning New Words

See also:
- Lexicon Window ,
- Importing Text Files,
Learning from the Clipboard.

Penfriend XL is supplied as standard with quite a small set of words, so as not to confuse people who are not familiar with rarer words. This is intentional, but it means that it will almost certainly not have all the words that you want in it. Of course Penfriend XL is quite happy to learn new words, and you can review the list of new and old words, removing or adding entries as you please.

To learn a new word, make sure Penfriend XL is running, go to your word processor and simply type the word. When you press the space bar at the end of the word, Penfriend XL will learn it and will immediately be ready to predict the word should it think you are about to type it. (Assuming the preferences are set appropriately)

If you wish to use a word which is similar to an existing one, you can type the first few letters until the similar one is predicted and choose it. Then, delete the space after the word (and some letters if you wish) and type the new ending. This is often faster than typing the whole new word.

Penfriend XL stores all of its words in a lexicon, and it can only load one lexicon at a time. There are, however, two aspects to the words in the list; some are marked as being new and others are not. You can see the entire lexicon in the lexicon window by choosing 'lexicon' from the 'View' menu of the prediction window. In there, you can choose whether you wish to see all words, or just the new ones, or just the old ones, by selecting the menu options in the 'View' menu.

You should only use the default lexicon to start off. Load it and then save it under a different name, for example the name of the person who will use it. The filename should end in '.lex' to identify the file type. When you save it, Penfriend XL will remember the name and re-load it next time you start it up. It will also reload all the other preferences for that user such as special colours, window positions, font sizes etc. The default lexicons are Read only and cannot be modified and thus cannot be corrupted. It allows you to use Penfriend XL with several users easily.

On a network, having personal lexicons is essential because anyone saving a file will overwrite the previous contents of it; this means that if many people work with the same lexicon and then each saves it, only the last person's words will be kept.

It is wise for a teacher, parent, or other good speller to view the list of new words occasionally, perhaps once a week (depending on their tendency to use incorrect words). All of the newly added words can be seen in red, and are all clearly listed together with appropriate choices from the View menu.

Any words from the lexicon, including both old and new ones, can be deleted if you think that they are not appropriate. To do this, point at the word, press the right hand mouse button and select Delete word from the context menu. The menu option will actually be 'Delete' followed by the word that you are pointing at.

Similarly, new words can be accepted into the main lexicon of 'old' words by choosing Approve from the pop-up menu shown by pressing the right hand mouse button while pointing at the word in question.

If the user, perhaps a poor speller, repeatedly makes the same spelling mistakes then you will find that the misspellings repeatedly appear as 'new words'. To prevent this, you can 'ban' them by choosing the appropriate option from the pop-up menu or the word properties dialogue box.

More complicated information about a word, such as its frequency and the words which are likely to follow it, can be seen and changed in the Properties dialogue box which is visible from the same pop-up menu in the lexicon window, or by holding down Alt and clicking on a word when it is predicted in the normal prediction window.

If you have many words that you wish to add to the lexicon, you can either type them all in your word processor (there is no need to stop to look at the lexicon each time), or more usefully if you have the words already in a text file on disk then you can import the text file by selecting the appropriate menu option in the Lexicon window, or by dragging a text file to the Lexicon window.

Penfriend XL works by learning the vocabulary and style of the person using it. It does not pick things up immediately, so this process of adding and removing words should be considered a natural part of using it. It should be easy for an experienced speller to review the lists of words quickly, and doing so will help the normal user in a way that an automatic spelling list could not.