Houaiss Unicode: Portuguese vs. Hebrew

I bought the Houaiss dictionary of Portuguese language.

It is very good, with some features that i haven’t seen in any other dictionary. For example, if you search for “gato” (cat), you’ll find a list of collective nouns for cats – bichanada, gataria. I am not familiar with an English dictionary that points me from “cat” to “pack”. It also lists the sounds that cats make – berrar, miar, roncar, ronronar, miada, miado, miau, mio, rom-rom, roufenho and many others. This feature exists for other animals, too.

It also has etymologies, synonyms, paronyms, antonyms, date of first usage, similar-sounding words, and many other lovely features.

I bought a paper edition with a CD-ROM. To install it from the CD-ROM i need to type an obnoxious serial number, but i can live with that. It also works only on Windows, but i can live with that, too, even though i am terribly ashamed of it.

But it does have one particularly obnoxious mis-feature: it doesn’t support Unicode. So i sent them this email:

Hello,

I am only a student of the Portuguese language and i don’t write it so well yet. Feel free to reply in Portuguese.

I bought the Houaiss dictionary, versão monousuário 1.0 junho de 2009. I installed it on my Windows XP PC and i was very disappointed to find out that most of this program doesn’t support Unicode. You probably programmed the strings in some kind of an ANSI encoding and not in Unicode.

I live in Israel and my computer is set to display non-Unicode programs in Hebrew. If you don’t know what am i talking about – in Windows XP, take a look at Control Panel -> Regional and Language Options -> Advanced -> Language for non-Unicode programs. Unfortunately i still have to use some old non-Unicode programs for my work, and these programs need to display Hebrew. To change this setting, i need to reboot the computer, which is very inconvenient, and since i use this computer for work most of the time, i am forced to see Hebrew letters instead of the special Portuguese characters ã, õ, ç etc. in the Houaiss program. Take a look the attached image to see how it looks on my machine.

Strangely enough, the central pane, where the dictionary article appears, works correctly. For example, the word “Derivação” appears with the right letters. But all the rest is broken: the word list on the left, the Parפnimos (Parônimos) tab at the bottom, the Acepחץes (Acepções) tab at the top appear with Hebrew characters. Hebrew characters also appear in the About box (Ajuda->Sobre) and in the installation program. In the menu itself question marks instead of special Portuguese characters: “Conjuga??o” instead of “Conjugação”. They appear as question marks even if i change the setting of “Language for non-Unicode programs” to “Portuguese (Brazil)”!

Note also this: Since the wordlist on the left doesn’t work correctly, i can’t easily search for words which include special characters. For example, if i want to search for the word “parônimo”, i try to type “p-a-r-o-n…”, and the program doesn’t get anywhere near “parônimo”, because you treat ‘o’ and ‘ô’ as different characters. So i need to scroll to it manually.

Besides this very annoying Unicode bug, i am very happy about the dictionary itself, so can you please fix this, so that my satisfação with it would be complete? In 2010 there are no more reasons to produce non-Unicode software. Besides, Windows 2000, which supports Unicode, is listed as a technical requirement to run the program.

Thanks in advance!

I sent this email to producao@objetiva.com.br and immediately received three identical replies from three different emails with human names, asking me to confirm that i am person and not a spam robot by replying. I replied to one of them and received a confirmation that i am not a spam robot. Good to know. Now please fix the Unicode support in your dictionary. It will take one day, including cafezinho breaks and a sword-fight.

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