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LINGUIST List 16.1504

Wed May 11 2005

Sum: Linguist-Software Interaction

Editor for this issue: Jessica Boynton <jessicalinguistlist.org>


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        1.    Burgel R.M. Faehndrich, Linguist-Software Interaction


Message 1: Linguist-Software Interaction
Date: 11-May-2005
From: Burgel R.M. Faehndrich <faehndrihawaii.edu>
Subject: Linguist-Software Interaction


Regarding query: http://www.linguistlist.org/issues/16/16-1151.html#2

The following is the summary for responses received for my query on the
Linguist List asking Linguist List readers to fill out a survey on
Linguist-Software Interaction. I would like to again thank everybody who
responded. Due to the terms of my IRB exemption I cannot list their names,
but I do appreciate all the helpful input I received.

I used the responses to the survey in a paper which summarizes the
following issues:
1. What computer programs are linguists using?
2. What do linguists like/dislike about these programs?
3. How do linguists think these programs could be improved?
4. What kinds of computer programs do linguists think should be
developed?
5. What do linguists think is the major problem with computer programs for
linguists?
6. Some recommendations for linguists using software, and developers
creating software for linguists.

Short summary of results
(for more details, go to
http://www2.hawaii.edu/~faehndri/Linguist_Software_Interaction.pdf )

1. What computer programs are linguists using?

Shoebox, Toolbox, PRAAT, Clan, Pitchworks, Macquirer and PCquirer,
SoundEdit, Wordcorr, Childes, Adobe Premiere, StatView, Excel, Word (95, 98
and later), Photoshop, iMovie, Emacs, Profiler, PlotFormants, LaTeX,
Prolog, DCG, UltraXML, Uniscribe, Open Office Writer, CanIPA, Knorpora,
JabRef , Kile, Texniccenter, Perl, MS Paint, Elan, Imdi, Sound Studio,
Cascadilla Press Mora font, SIL Phonetics keyboard for Mac, FileMaker,
Windows, SAL, TECkit, XeTeX, iWork application 'Pages' on Mac, Microsoft
Publisher, SIL Graphite font technology, Font Creator Program 4.0, Mozilla
Editor, CoolEdit96, MS Office, Star Office, Transcriber, Phono.

2. What do linguists like/dislike about these programs?

Likes: (1) free or inexpensive, (2) easy to use or provides free and prompt
support by email, (3) has many functions used by linguists, (4)
flexibility, (5) intuitive interface, good handling of IPA and other
'unusual' characters.

Dislikes: (1) problems with handling IPA and other 'unusual' characters,
(2) incompatible h other software and other platforms, (3) difficult to
use/steep learning curve, (4) too expensive, (5) unstable, (6) inflexible.

3. How do linguists think these programs could be improved?

(1) Improve the way IPA and other unusual characters are handled, (2)
improve user interface, (3) more opportunities to learn use of software

4. What kinds of computer programs do linguists think should be developed?

(1) programs fully compatible with IPA, (2) a Shoebox-like program with a
less complicated entry process, (3) software for searching multilingual
interlinearized texts, (4) software for organizing data from a field
methods class (by phonology, morphology, syntax and lexicon), (5) easier
statistics software, (6) "something like audiamus?linked to a dictionary to
provide interlinear gloss at same time", (7) a program for transcription,
(8) a program to convert a bracket notation into a branching tree, allowing
edits, (9) software developed by linguists together with software
designers, (10) a tool for annotation of audio and video on different
tiers, with lots of capability for interlinking, creation of dictionaries,
automatic updating, printing, and well-structured archiving.

5. What do linguists think is the major problem with computer programs for
linguists?

(1) lack of portability across platforms and from one application to
another, (2) linguist's high expectations, (3) phonetic transcription, (4)
linguists afraid of software.

6. Some recommendations for linguists using software, and developers
creating software for linguists.

IPA, other special fonts: One solution for problems with displaying special
fonts which is possible with current technology is embedding fonts into an
Adobe document. However, the document will increase in size quite a bit if
many characters are embedded.

Steep learning curves: One solution is to have more courses or workshops
teaching software use to linguistics students. Another solution is to have
the help materials for an application written by a person who is not a
programmer, and not familiar with software design. This way, with constant
interaction between the software developer and the writer of the help
materials, help information should be useable by people who have little
experience with software. It is also helpful to have free and prompt
feedback from the software developer or provider. Feedback by email would
be sufficient.

Cost: look for comparable open source software. The most ambitious solution
would be for computer-savvy linguists to write the needed program and make
it freely available.

Portability: software should be able to use an output format which is
easily accessible by other software, such as plain text, or text in
standard UTF-8 encoding, possibly in XML format.

Linguistic Field(s): General Linguistics


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