When I compose a new email in Thunderbird and I want to change the spell checker language I can click on Spelling and switch between the installed languages. Unfortunately there are currently all kinds of different dialects installed for both English and German, making it rather cumbersome to select the one dialect I want to use. I just need English US and German DE.

Question: How can I uninstall all those additional dialects like German (LU), or English (CA)?

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Currently I have only installed the following three language packs in Ubuntu:

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Additionally my package manager shows me I have installed the following locale package for Ubunut:


I am using Ubuntu 16.04 with Thunderbird 38.8.0


I was able to resolve this by uninstalling the respective hunspell packages:

First I searched for all installed hunspell packages:

aptitude search hunspell|grep ^i

Which returned this list:

i   hunspell-de-at   
i   hunspell-de-ch   
iB  hunspell-de-de   
i A hunspell-en-ca   
i A hunspell-en-gb   
i   hunspell-en-us   
i A hunspell-en-za   
i A libhunspell-1.3-0

Then I removed the unnecessary ones with:

sudo apt purge hunspell-de-at hunspell-de-ch hunspell-en-ca \
hunspell-en-gb hunspell-en-za

Note: A few redundancies still remain, which are caused by the fact that some packages install symlinks to other languages which then show up as duplicates in thunderbird. For example hunspell-de-de installs a symlink name de_BE.aff in /usr/share/hunspell which points to de_DE.aff. See https://launchpad.net/bugs/651586 (Thanks to Gunnar Hjalmarsson for pointing this out in the comments).

  • Hey, after all you are lucky to not have Spanish or Arabic dictionaries with a lot of symlinks. ;) – Gunnar Hjalmarsson Jun 22 '16 at 10:12
  • that's great, I wasn't aware of this. Well done. – Jack Jun 22 '16 at 10:23

You can find the installed dictionaries at /usr/lib/thunderbird/dictionaries and delete the unwanted .aff and .dic dictionaries there.

Things change depending on Thunderbird and Ubuntu version so it's worth noting for future readers that I am on Ubuntu 14.04 and Thunderbird 38.8.0.

  • 1
    Notice that that dir is a link to hunspell --- so this is similar to askubuntu.com/a/545356/16395 – Rmano Jun 21 '16 at 17:45
  • 1
    This would require me to interfere with files that are managed by the package manager. A better solution IMHO is to find the respective packages and then remove them with the package manager. See my own answer. – lanoxx Jun 22 '16 at 9:30

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