SIL FieldWorks Language Explorer


Introducing SIL FieldWorks Language Explorer
Presented by:         
Susanna Imrie, SIL International  
Project / Software Title :      
SIL FieldWorks Language Explorer  
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Access / Availability:       SIL FieldWorks Language Explorer is available under the SIL Open Source License. Because this license is granted to the user for no cost, the user is not entitled to free technical support from SIL. Download SIL FieldWorks from:

SIL FieldWorks Language Explorer is a program designed for organizing and studying words and texts in a language. It covers areas such as:

  • Creating a lexicon of words in the language (including multilingual support such as for definitions, and multiple vernacular orthographies.)
  • Creating interlinear texts in which words can be annotated as a whole as well as broken into morphemes which are further analyzed.
  • Explicit links from interlinear texts to the lexicon.
  • Creating a morphological grammar describing how words are broken into morphemes, and testing this by parsing words in texts and word lists. (An HTML document describing the morphology can be generated automatically from this information.)
  • Building concordances of occurrences of word-forms (and eventually morphemes) in texts.
  • There is some phonological information, though mainly aimed at specifying environments for morphological rules. (Support for phonological study will be added in the future.)
  • Elicitation of words and bulk editing of data (as described in the Dictionary Development Process).

There is a sophisticated underlying object-oriented data model, involving some 10 classes and 88 fields for describing lexical information, and 60 classes with 185 fields for morphological grammar information (though not all of this is fully supported in the program's interface as yet).
The user interface is task-oriented and customizable. Users may also add custom fields. Support for customization will increase in future versions of Language Explorer.

The data model is mapped to a relational database. The database provides integrity and consistency of data. For example, a lexical relation need only be specified in one of the entries, and Language Explorer automatically displays the relation (with appropriate labels) in both entries. Furthermore, a lexical relation between two entries will be maintained even after the lexeme form of one of the entries is modified. Similarly, when an entry is deleted, any lexical relations in other entries are also removed.

Language Explorer can import data from Shoebox (or Toolbox) and LinguaLinks Workshops. There is an export to standard format, which can be used in Lexique Pro. Language Explorer data can also be output in an XML format. Future versions will have a wider range of export formats and options.

Language Explorer fully supports SIL's Graphite technology for displaying writing systems that are not well handled by standard Windows rendering engines.

As part of the FieldWorks suite of applications, Language Explorer brings the power and efficiency of integrating with other language data, such as translation and anthropology research.