[OS X TeX] plain TeX Live hyphenation

Tom Koornwinder T.H.Koornwinder at uva.nl
Thu Jul 9 03:50:49 EDT 2009

On 8 Mar 2008 Bruno Voisin wrote to this list:

> Le 8 mars 08  17:36, Gianluca Gorni a ecrit :
> > So I resigned myself to install TeXLive2007 from the DVD.
> > Trying to replicate the steps that had worked for
> > gw-teTeX, I looked everywhere for a file named language.def.
> > I finally located it in
> >
> > /usr/local/texlive/2007/texmf-dist/tex/plain/config/language.def
> >
> > The trick should be to add the line
> >
> > \addlanguage {Italian}{ithyph}{}{2}{2}
> >
> > to language.def. I have saved the modified file in what looks
> > like the only obvious location:
> >
> > /usr/local/texlive/texmf-local/tex/plain/local/
> It's not the file that's used. The one that is used is
> /usr/local/texlive/2007/texmf-var/tex/plain/config/language.def

Actually, the relevant file in TeXLive2008 is


I found this by repeating Bruno Voisin's commands in his 8 Mar 2008 posting:

$ kpsewhich language.def
$ fmtutil --showhyphen pdfetex
$ fmtutil --showhyphen etex
$ fmtutil --showhyphen tex

Apart from USenglish this file language.def has added 64 languages,
including Italian (36) and Dutch (16). There is no longer a need to
uncomment something in that file.

In TeXShop one should have the default engines except that one should
replace "simpdftex tex --maxpfb" by "simpdftex etex --maxpfb".
Then one can change to any of these 64 languages in plain TeX.
Consider for instance the console after typesetting:

%!TEX TS-program =  pdftex
\language36 %italian
\showhyphens{probabilmente schilderijtje thorough}
\language16 %dutch
\showhyphens{probabilmente schilderijtje thorough}
\language0 %USenglish
\showhyphens{probabilmente schilderijtje thorough}

Of course, one may define:


On 3 Mar 2007 I reported to this list the complicated steps to be made with
gwTeX in order to enable hyphenation in other languages in plain TeX.
To my delight, these are no longer needed with TeXLive2008.

Tom Koornwinder

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