(Last Review: 29 Nov 2020)
Titivillus 1.1 adds proofing capabilities for Latin and Ancient Greek to Microsoft Word on Microsoft Windows. It not only flags out possible mistakes, but also gives you suggestions for possible corrections and allows you to add entries to a personal dictionary. Titivillus is free of charge.
2 Read this – what you REALLY need to know to get started
Actually, you need to understand two things:
- After a successful installation of Titivillus , Latin and Ancient Greek have been added to your Microsoft Word installation. However, they do not appear under these names in the list. Rather two pre-existing languages have been overwritten:
isiXhosa [or: Xhosa] is Latin
isiZulu [or: Zulu/Zoulou] is Ancient Greek
So, if you wish to type in Latin, change to isiXhosa and start typing. Or if you wish to spellcheck an existing paragraph in Ancient Greek, highlight it and select isiZulu.
In some older Word version, you won’t find isiXhosa or isiZulu, but rather Xhosa and Zulu [or, if French, Zoulou]. Don’t worry, it’s the same thing: Xhosa is Latin, Zulu is Greek.
- There are different conventions for spelling Latin. Some authors/publishers/countries distinguish v and u in their spelling (i.e., veni vidi vici or mundus vult decipi), some prefer to do not (i.e, ueni uidi uici or mundus uult decipi). Titivillus is capable of spellchecking both variants, but you must choose (otherwise, ueni vidi uici would be correct, which is not the case). When you first install Titivillus, you are asked to choose one of the two. If you want to change that, open Latin Spellchecker Options (either by searching for it in the search bar or via the Program menu in An Drouizig).
If you’re interested in ancient Latin, you will probably not need the other options (which however are extremely important for anyone working on Medieval Latin). Important: if you changed the options, it’s best to reboot to activate them. For if any Microsoft Office program stays active, the spellchecker cannot be updated; and this could be, e.g. Outlook. Just reboot and you will be fine.
3 Known Limitations
The Latin part of Titivillus (which is actually a retake of COL) is technically mature; there shouldn’t be any problems. Clearly, not every word can be known, but the number of unknowns is minimal.
The Greek part of Titivillus will more often flag out correctly spelt words wrongly as misspelt, because the underlying dictionary is not as complete as the Latin one. Later versions will hopefully amend this situation, but the spellchecker is already extremely powerful in its present state, so it makes sense to release it.
In addition to this, the Greek part doesn’t know any grammar rules. So ἀπὸ εἰσίν and οἱ δέ περιττοὶ would be accepted as correct. After all, each and every of these words can appear, even if never in this sequence. In other words: final acute or gravis and the accentuation of enclitics remain your own responsibility, at least for now.
There is a further limitation to the Greek part that will affect only some users: Microsoft Word has the disingenuous habit to automatically change to other proofing languages based on the keyboard layout you are using. This is not a problem with Latin: you change from proofing in your native language such as French, English, Italian or German to isi Xhosa and back again at will, and Microsoft Word will not interfere.
If you input Ancient Greek with a tool like MultiKey ( www.oeaw.ac.at/kal/multikey ), you will also be fine regarding Ancient Greek: you change to isi Zulu and back again, and Microsoft Word will stay well-behaved.
But woe on you if you input Ancient Greek with Microsoft Window’s Polytonic Greek keyboard layout! Whenever you finish typing a word, Microsoft Word thinks it’s cleverer than you: “aha, this person is using a Greek keyboard layout! The only language in the world that uses a Greek keyboard layout is ‘Greek’! I will be helpful and change proofing to [Modern] Greek!”
Nothing can be done about that. Your options are either to change your inputting habits (i.e., using MultiKey instead of the Polytonic Greek keyboard layout) or to apply proofing only later, i.e. you type, all gets underlined in red, then you highlight the paragraph and select “isi Zulu.” I actually find MultiKey a lot easier than the Polytonic Greek keyboard, as the layout matches betacode key which any Classicist must know to use anyway.
4 Why isi Xhosa and isi Zulu?
Attentive Microsoft Word users may have discovered that Word’s language list contains Latin and Greek. Why not use these entries?
Greek is Modern Greek. If Greek were overwritten with “Ancient Greek,” Greek-speaking users could no longer spellcheck their native language.
Latin is actually overwritten. You could, theoretically, use it instead of “isi Xhosa.” But please, don’t do it, as the proofing language won’t stick. Type one word, and you’re back to French or German or whatever is your keyboard layout. Just use isi Xhosa, and you won’t encounter this problem.
Also, note that the list of languages in Word cannot be expanded. It is completely fixed. One cannot add (e.g.) “Ancient Greek,” one can only overwrite any one of the existing languages.
5 I’m using MacOS (or Linux)
For the time being, there won’t be a MacOS version of Titivillus because of the substantial time and effort which would be necessary.
Your options are to spellcheck your manuscript authored on a Mac on a Windows computer. Or to use LibreOffice (or OpenOffice) on a Mac for which you can download dictionaries:
Note: there is no support for these dictionaries. Also, you will have better results if you use Titivillus on Microsoft Windows, because several improvements (especially for the Greek) have been introduced.
6 Why isn’t Titivillus Open Source?
It’s closed source because in order to gain access to Office proofing, you need to be vetted by Microsoft and sign an NDA. This means that Philippe is the only person who can have access the Titivillus code.
7 I encountered a problem during installation
Please de-install each and every of these programs which you find in your Control Panel / Software section (most probably, you will only find two of them, but please check carefully that all are removed):
- Latin spellchecker
- Ancient Greek spellchecker
- Classicists spellchecker
- Microsoft Office Proofing Tools 20xx – Latin
Then re-install. If the problem persists, send an e-mail with as much information as possible to
8 I encountered a problem while using the spellchecker
The spellchecker is working mostly correct, but marks some correct words as mistaken. This can happen with any spellchecker, sorry about that.
When I type in Ancient Greek using the Polytonic Keyboard, after every word, Microsoft Word changes from “isi Zulu” to “Greek,” i.e. Modern Greek. Either use MultiKey instead of the Polytonic Keyboard, or apply isi Zulu only later to your text.
Spellchecking doesn’t work at all. Please download www.riedlberger.de/sample.docx and www.riedlberger.de/Titivillus-test.pdf . Perform the test described in the PDF on sample.docx. Please be extra-careful that you follow each and every step precisely as described. Did this test work?
If yes, your problem has nothing to do with Titivillus . Typically, proofing has been activated (the little checkbox in the dialog window, cf. the explanation in the PDF). Or there are too many spelling mistakes in one document. Then, Microsoft Word capitulates completely and permanently stops proofing for that document. Copy/paste individual pages from such huge documents and spellcheck them separately. Sorry about that.
If no, send an e-mail to and include as much details as possible about your problem.
10 Download link
- the program can be downloaded here.