Overview

Field linguists use a variety of software tools to gather and publish their data. In FieldWorks Language Explorer, we are attempting to provide the best functionality of many tools in one application. Beyond that, we are seeking to bring a new level of power and support to both traditional approaches as well as promising, new techniques. Finally, as part of the FieldWorks suite of applications, Language Explorer brings the power and efficiency of integrating with other language program data, such as translation and anthropology research.

Start Quickly, Finish Well

The great challenge the developers have faced in combining the best aspects of LinguaLinks Workshops and Shoebox/Toolbox was to make a program that is easy to learn and yet has the power to help linguists do professional quality research and publication, without a lot of expert consultation.

Focus on Your Tasks

Language Explorer uses a powerful relational database which allows it to to do maintenance chores for you, letting you focus on the task at hand.

Language Explorer uses a “conceptual model” of linguistic data. That is, the application has been built to understand something about

  • how each field is used
  • what types of data can go in there, and
  • how that data is related to other things in the database.

This makes it possible for the program to assist you in maintaining integrity and consistency of your data. For example, imagine that you create a lexical relation between two entries. Although you create the relationship in only one of the entries, Language Explorer will display the relationship (with appropriate labels) in both entries. Now imagine that you change the Lexeme form of the second entry. Rather than losing track of the second entry and causing a broken link in your lexical database, Language Explorer will display the new name whenever it displays that relationship.

This approach also enables multiple views of your data which help you while you do different tasks. For example, Language Explorer includes views of the lexicon as a dictionary, as a semantic domain-oriented word collection tool, and in portions of an automatically generated grammar sketch.

Customize to Meet Your Needs

Language Explorer gives you flexibility to go beyond its conceptual model —the special database structure it installs with—and add your own fields. You can produce customized views of your data to fit your needs, those of your coworkers, and those of the task you are currently working on. We anticipate adding more and more customization possibilities as the application matures.

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