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REP a' b ab works, but
REP ab a' b does not,e ven when ' is in wordchars
"a'b" has to be a dictionary word. Do you need a general method?
Check REP ab a'_b,
where a' is recognized by the dictionary/rules.
The word containing the ' might not be a direct dictionary word, but is affix-generated.
The issue is with all nouns having a sharp vowel (auto erroneously written as autos where auto's would be correct.
Introducing all these words in the dictionary is possible. but inefficient. Especially with compounding nouns.
We need a general solution.
It works, but OpenOffice.org Lingucomponent module converts all typographic apostrophes to the ASCII ones before calling the spell checker. (I have also added a new example to the tests/rep.aff.) Use ASCII apostrophes in your dictionary or ICONV/OCONV Hunspell features.