Phonology Assistant

Phonology Assistant (PA) is a free phonology tool by SIL that (as of version 3.0) works interactively with the data stored in Toolbox, Fieldworks Language Explorer, and Speech Analyzer. It automates many of the cumbersome and repetitive tasks associated with doing phonological analysis, and it does so in a most systematic and revealing way. The things it does more or less automatically include drawing up a phone inventory; computing relative frequencies of phones; computing syllable structures; generating phonotactic charts for every conceivable combination of positions, phones, or features; and finding minimal pairs along various dimensions. A powerful search function allows the user to search for phonetic patterns within specified environments.

A review of Phonology Assistant by me was published yesterday in Language Documentation & Conservation. It’s a tremendously useful tool — anyone who has ever been faced with the task of doing phonological analysis will know that it can grow enormously complex, especially if one wants to be comprehensive and look not just at simple positional distribution (initial, medial, final) but also at occurrence in different environments (intervocalic, before voiced fricatives, after a nasal consonant, etc.). PA assists in these household chores, and does it all with an interface so smooth you wouldn’t notice the conceptual complexity of the tasks. Check out the review (pdf) or the PA website.

  1. Dingemanse, Mark. 2008. Review of Phonology Assistant 3.0.1. Language Documentation & Conservation 2, no. 2: 325-331. doi:http://hdl.handle.net/10125/4350.  

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