The Linguist’s Kitchen

Ian Phillips, Linguistics

The Linguist’s Kitchen

The Linguist’s Kitchen is a web-based application designed to aid beginning linguistics students in learning core linguistic principles and practices through guided analyses of languages spoken in the home and community. It’s called a kitchen because it provides a space, tools, and recipes necessary for users to “cook” raw language data so it can be used for learning through conducting linguistic analyses. This app is designed to be instructive—it will be suitable for use in the classroom during instructor-guided practice and will encourage self-guided learning through exploration outside of the classroom.

With this application, students will generate the data used in learning and therefore can rely on their intuitions in conducting analyses. At each step in the process, the application will guide users dissecting their data and generalizing over analyses to formulate descriptive rules. Practicing these processes on familiar languages will assist students in developing the skills and knowledge necessary to perform and understand linguistic descriptive analyses on unfamiliar languages, which are needed to make connections between theories and supporting data that are central to linguistic thought.

The first phase of development for this app will include interfaces and workflow guides for basic syntactic analysis—transcribing a sentence and identifying three levels of syntactic information: the part of speech for individual words (noun, preposition, etc.), grouping words into syntactic constituents (noun phrase, verb phrase, etc.), and identifying the grammatical functions for different phrases (subject, direct object, etc.). Starting with the transcription interface, users can type a sentence in the transcription field, enter its literal meaning in the paraphrase field, and indicate its type (declarative, interrogative, imperative, etc.). Users are then guided through a series of interfaces that provide the tools and instructions needed for the each step in analysis. Once users have analyzed their sentences, the app generates a descriptive grammar for the data.