I speak a number of languages and switch between them all the time. The user interface usually stays set to English and I switch the spell-check to the appropriate language. To this end, I went to "Language Support" in Ubuntu's system settings and installed all the required languages.

This works great, except for one annoyance. Every single variant of the languages I chose appear in the list when I want to switch languages! For instance, there are like half a dozen English variants: Australia, Canada, South Africa, United Kingdom, United States. The same is true for Dutch, French or German, and Spanish is even worse. This seems to happen everywhere I can choose a language for spell-check: Firefox, gedit, Libre Office, etc. Kind of cumbersome when I have to scroll through that LONG list several times a day!

How could I possibly limit the number of language variants in those lists? I usually only need one variant for each language: United States for English, Flemish for Dutch, Belgian for French, Spain for Spanish, etc.

Thanks for your input.

  • Is askubuntu.com/questions/5136/… useful? It worked for me...
    – Rmano
    Nov 3, 2014 at 22:57
  • Thanks for the pointer. That does sound like a definite answer, but a bit "brutal" and risky, to be honest! And like Gunnar pointed below, the manually deleted files are bound to get reinstalled every time an update comes out.
    – Alex
    Nov 4, 2014 at 0:56
  • Yes I know... But it works and on my machines (en + it + es ) I did it one year ago and was not overwritten yet...
    – Rmano
    Nov 4, 2014 at 6:45
  • Aah, good to know. I think I'll give it a shot. Thanks.
    – Alex
    Nov 4, 2014 at 11:25

1 Answer 1


This is not a solution, but an attempt to bring some light on the topic.

There does not exist as many dictionaries for spellchecking as the number of options showed. If you for example run the command

ls /usr/share/hunspell

you see that the folder includes quite a few symlinks. Those symlinks have been installed by the various packages which install the dictionaries, and I suppose the reason is that the applications should be able to find a suitable dictionary based on the current locale (the value of the LANG variable).

It would be possible to limit the number of variants by deleting symlinks in the just mentioned folder and some other related folders. But it's indeed not a good idea, since they will be reinstalled next time respective package is updated.

I don't think there is an easy solution to this issue.

  • After reading your answer and the answers in the question pointed to by Rmano, it does indeed seem that manually removing those files is the only solution. A bit brutal to my taste, and like you said, won't prevent them from being re-created every time the packages are updated.
    – Alex
    Nov 4, 2014 at 1:02

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