A correspondent writes to ask if there are any linguistics apps. They are certainly beginning to appear, and coincidentally I received news this week of a grammar app from the Survey of English Usage at University College London. It's called iGE, the interactive Grammar of English, and it's available for iPhone 3 and 4, iPod Touch, and the iPad.
iGE comes in two versions. iGE Lite is free. It contains a glossary and three units of course material covering word classes, nouns, and determiners. It's only a taster. A grammar is a complete system. One can't dive into it without finding oneself pulled in all sorts of different directions. So I quickly found myself wanting to check out aspects of clause and phrase structure which are only available in the complete iGE. But a complete grammar for less than a fiver (in pounds) is good value by any standards.
The interactive bit relates to various exercises and puzzles, where you can score your success rate. Whether you get 100 percent or not will depend on the extent to which you have assimilated the particular grammatical model being presented. For example, asked to find all the nouns in a passage, you won't score 100 unless you accept that attributive items (such as garden in garden wall) are also classed as nouns. But the model presented is a well-established and influential one, and there are lots of real examples of usage, taken from the ICE-GB corpus.
I'm sure it won't be long before we see many more linguistic apps, especially in areas of language which are difficult to handle in traditional ways, such as phonetics and phonology. It used to be almost impossible using a textbook to obtain a good auditory experience of nonsegmental phonlogy, for example, but multimedia technology has changed all that. I would welcome reports from readers of this blog who have experience of using other apps in our field.