LINGUIST List 3.337

Sat 11 Apr 1992

Sum: Software for the Historical Linguist

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. David W. Talmage, Summary of software tools for historical linguistics

Message 1: Summary of software tools for historical linguistics

Date: Fri, 10 Apr 92 10:02:38 ESSummary of software tools for historical linguistics
From: David W. Talmage <>
Subject: Summary of software tools for historical linguistics

Way back in February, 1992, in LINGUIST 3.128, I asked to correspond
with historical linguists who were using software tools in their work.
Here is a summary of what I've found, including a few tools that were
noted in LINGUIST but not specifically for HL.

I apologize for taking so long to summarize, especially to those who were
kind enough to write to me.

In LINGUIST 3.124, (Jacques Guy) introduced COGNATE,
"A PC Program for identifying Related Words". It's on the LINGUIST server

Lee Hartman (ga5123siucvmb.bitnet) wrote PHONO, a program for modeling
sound change from Latin to Spanish. He will send a copy of PHONO to
"anyone who is interested in trying it out on some other language."
Below is a description of the program.

> With my Latin/Spanish data, the program ("PHONO") works essentially
>from known ancestor forms to known descendent forms; it is not the
>Comparative Method if that means reconstructing an unknown ancestor on
>the basis of several known descendents.

> The Latin-to-Spanish rules are NOT hard-coded in the program,
>but rather are data that are read and interpreted by the program.
>So PHONO is ready to have the data of some other well-documented language
>plugged into it and tested.

Both uunet!!txsil!evan (Evan Antworth) and
Herb Stahlke <uunet!LEO.BSUVC.BSU.EDU!00HFSTAHLKE> told me about WORDSURV
from SIL.

Herb Stahlke uses WORDSURV for "lexico-statistical" comparisons and for
some segment comparisons. He says he's used it successfully with classes.

Also, Herb Stahlke and a grad student are building "a Datatrieve database
for use with Comparative Ekoid, using the Crabb data." His students will
use it for comparative reconstruction "without all the paperwork". He notes
that he had to build a lot of phonotactic info into the DB records and

Susan Pintzuk (, author of the PC
version of VARBRUL uses it to study syntactic variation and change. She
used it to study Old English for her dissertation.

 From veatchAndrea.Stanford.EDU (Tom Veatch), via Peter Patrick
<uunet!!peterp>, I learned about FONOL V4.2.1 for
"Phonological theory/rule simulation". You can get it from any machine
that mirrors the SIMTEL-20 archives (e.g. from, the
binary file mirrors/msdos/linguistics/

> Fonol is designed as a kind of tool box for setting up
>variants of phonological theories in the general generative camp
>and its successors and then developing and testing phonological
>rules and matrices on data.

In various issues of Linguist, I learned about other software that may
be of use to the historical linguist:

In LINGUIST 3.186, (Evan Antworth) writes about Conc,
a concordance program for Macintosh, available from SIL. On a Mac IIci,
it takes about 13 minutes and "2,500KB of memory" (presumably disk space)
to make a concordance of all 1177KB of _Moby Dick_. Version 1.70 is a
freeware, beta test version. You can get it by anonymous FTP from [], in pub/tools/concordances/conc/conc170.hqx,
or you can order the disk for $4 (in North America, $6 overseas;
funds drawn on US banks only) from

> International Academic Bookstore
> 7500 W. Camp Wisdom Road
> Dallas, TX 75236
> U.S.A.
> phone: (214)709-2404

Corpora and texts
In LINGUIST 3.125, you can learn about anonymous FTP Access to the TEI
SGML texts of the Oxford Text Archive.	Use (

In LINGUIST 3.195 there is an announcement of the ICAME Collection of
English Language Corpora on CD-ROM.

In LINGUIST 3.221 there is an announcment of the ACL/DCI CD-ROM I.

In LINGUIST 3.186, (David C. J. Leip) writes:
>I am presently working on a software tool to help computer speech recognition
>interface designers build acoustically distinct vocabularies. Don't know if

In LINGUIST 3.186, (Evan Antworth) tells about Englex,
a 20,000-entry morphological parsing lexicon of English for use with
PC-KIMMO and/or KTEXT.	Englex does inflectional and derivational
morphology. It runs under Unix, Macintosh, and MS-DOS. [You Amiga users
can probably port the Unix version]

Like Conc, this is also available by anonymous FTP from Look
in pub/tools/ling-analysis/englex_pckimmo for (MS-DOS),
englex10.tar.Z (UNIX), englex10.hqx (MAC).

You'll find PC-KIMMO and KTEXT there too, in
pub/tools/ling-analysis/morphology/pc-kimmo and
pub/tools/ling-analysis/morphology/ktext, respectively.

In LINGUIST 3.197, (Evan Antworth) writes about DIMAP
(DIctionary MAintenance Programs), available from CL Research,
20239 Lea Pond Place, Gaithersburg MD 20879, USA. A demo version is
available from Compuserve.

In LINGUIST 3.213, Harriet Ottenheimer <MAHAFANKSUVM.KSU.EDU> writes
>LEXWARE is a set of programs designed for construction and maintenance of
>bilingual lexicons. I have been using it on both mainframe and PC since
>1986.	For more information about it, contact Bob Hsu c/o linguistics,
>at the University of Hawaii-Manoa (T119920UHCCMV).

In LINGUIST 2.819, Peter Ladefoged <IDU0PNLMVS.OAC.UCLA.EDU> briefly notes
some phonetics software from UCLA and IPA for the Macintosh.

Other summaries
In LINGUIST 3.189, <shelmreiNMSU.Edu> summarized on-line Spanish language
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue