Sunday, 4 September 2011

On linguistic apps

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.

10 comments:

Alex_linguist said...

Not sure what your correspondent exactly meant by "linguistic apps". Do they include dictionaries, too? If yes, then there lots of dictionary apps from Longman, Oxford, Cambridge, Collins, and Macmillan. For American users, there are apps from Merriam-Webster and American Heritage. Larousse and Robert also have their dictionary apps.

CUP released some apps for their Grammar in Use series. Macmillan has a good pronunciation app ("Sounds").

Sadly, there are really few apps targeted at linguists. I have one only, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Linguistics, on my iPhone. Maybe there will be an iPad/iPhone app for your CEEL and CEL soon.

John said...

Excellent. I will check out the app. Are there any plans to make available many of your books on the iBookstore or Kindle soon?

DC said...

I wasn't actually thinking of dictionaries, but of course, yes, dictionary publishers were early off the mark. Thanks for the other references.

DC said...

John: I leave that up to the individual publishers. Several are now available as e-books, I know, but I haven't looked to see which platforms are being used.

Alex_linguist said...

Amazon currently offers 15 books of yours, Professor Crystal, for the Kindle. Barnes and Noble for their Nook - 5.

DC said...

Thanks for the research.

The Ridger, FCD said...

It sounds nice, but I'm not ditching BlackBerry for it. I wonder if there are any plans to go cross-platform?

David Crosbie said...

For those (like me) without a mobile web-linked device this version can be explored on a desktop — and it's free.

KateGladstone said...

There are some interesting phonetics app out there, too: e.g., "Sounds: The Pronunciation App", "Phonetics Focus HD",

Anya Hassett said...

There are now quite a number of Linguistics Apps, I recently came accross one on itunes that covers all aspects of linguistics in a glossary format- It's good but a little oddly structured, worth getting though! I think it was free (if not only 69p or something). I can't find the name of it but i just typed 'linguistics' into the search and a few came up. Thanks