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This might be a problem with the encoding. If you have non-latin characters for example. I am a native bulgarian speaker and if I don't have all the needed encoding, I would get monkey symbols sometimes. I would try to open the file using google docs and see if the file opens fine. If it doesn't then the file is corrupted. If it works fine in google docs, then it's a problem with open office and we can go from there. Please test and report back, so we can use the process of elimination to figure out the problem.
As Catkin says, if your file is corrupt the best you can do is to extract content.xml from the archive and manually remove the xml tags to recover the text. It's a messy job and a slow one, but I've done it.
That contains the text with the formating information embedded in it. You need to install a hex editor, load the doc file into it, and delete everything except the text. You can't do the job with an ordinary text editor.
Last edited by DavidMcCann; 05-18-2012 at 12:58 PM.