Pages 3.0: ‘Whole Word’ searching not French-friendly

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Pages
March 14th, 2008 • 2:32 pm

Like any self-respecting word processor, Pages has a find/replace feature that comes with a number of standard options, such as the option to “Match case” and the option to search for “Whole words” only. These options can be accessed by choosing the “Advanced” tab in the “Find/Replace” window.

Sadly, it appears that Apple’s developers could not be bothered to check what the definition of a “whole word” is in languages other than English—even though the word processor itself supports multiple languages.

In French, for example, the “le” and “la” articles that come before nouns have a so-called contracted form, where the vowel is dropped and the article is reduced to a “l’” that is then written before the noun without a space separating the two.

In other words, in French we have:

le chat
la maison


l’arbre (and not *le arbre)
l’unité (and not *la unité)

Even though the contracted article is written without a space separating it from the noun, in all four phrases, chat, maison, arbre, and unité are very much “whole words” and should most definitely be found as such when doing a search for whole words with a word processor.

Unfortunately, when you use the “Whole words” option in Pages, the word processor completely ignores occurrences where the whole word appears in combination with the contracted article. In other words, if I do a search for “unité” with the “Whole words” option checked in Pages, Pages will fail to include occurrences of “l’unité” in the results.

This is very wrong, and something that even the crappy Microsoft Word does right.

Sadly, this is not an isolated problem. I have already written two posts about problems with the curly apostrophe in the Find/Replace window in Pages.

Until Apple fixes these problems and pays sufficient attention to such details in all the languages that it supports in its word processor, I am afraid Pages will not qualify as a professional-level product.

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