All and Any

Two particularly useful functions for linguists are the Any and All functions found just under the property constraint box and the property_value constraint box. In logical terms, "Any" means disjunction (logical OR) within a constraint. By contrast, "All" means conjunction (logical AND) within a constraint. For the language constraint box, selecting several languages is implicitly handled as an Any.

For example, suppose a user clicks on Language in the Show line and selects the following property_value pairs (in the constraint box): Attributive Adjective Agreement:Yes and Auxiliary Selection:Yes. If All is specified, this search will find the set of languages that have agreement with attributive adjectives AND for which the property of auxiliary selection holds. If a user had clicked Any instead, then the search would yield the set of languages that have agreement with attributive adjectives OR for which the property of auxiliary selection holds (or both).

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The "Cross" function allows a comparison among a pair of properties on all or a subset of languages. The essential function of Cross is to form tables that are similar to the tetrachoric tables of Greenberg 1963. For example, a cross among Adjective Degree and Adjective Demonstrative Noun, yields the counts and the languages for each combination of Adjective Degree:Yes/No/NA and Adjective Demonstrative Noun:Yes/No/NA. It is also possible to constrain Cross to a particular set of languages (using the language constraint box).

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Our representation of examples follows the Leipzig glossing rules, which can be found here. An example is represented as a sentence or phrase in a target language (with morpheme boundaries indicated), a gloss, and a translation into English as well as the property-value pairs that the example illustrates, as in the following example from French:

Example Number: 1 
Example: Paul me voit
Gloss: Paul 1SG see.PRS.3SG
Translation: Paul sees me.

Note that each example is assigned a number. The numbers provides a unique identifier for an example internal to a particular language. In other words, there will be exactly one example with the number 6 internal to Greek.

To list the complete set of examples in the database, click Example in the Show bar of the search interface. Then click on Search. To see the set of examples listed by language, click both Language and Example in the Show bar, and click on Search. To find the examples that contain a particular morpheme in the gloss, click Example in the Show bar, and then type in the morpheme you are looking for in the Gloss Contains box at the bottom of the page.

If Example is clicked in the Show bar, and the "prioritize example" box is clicked (at the bottom of the page), then only information (in this case, languages and properties) having a corresponding example will be shown. On the other hand, if “prioritize example” is not clicked, then examples will be provided when they exist.

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Examples, Adding

To add an example, click on Add in the navigation bar. Then click on Add New Example, and fill out the form. When entering examples, do not put quotes around the translation. In the database, we follow the Leipzig glossing rules, which can be found here. Here is a brief summary of the information you need to provide:

  • Language (Use pull down menu to select language.)
  • Property (Use pull down menu to select a property that the example illustrates.)
  • Value (Use pull down menu to select Yes, No or NA.)
  • Sentence (Write sentence or phrase from target language.)
  • Gloss (Write gloss using Leipzig glossing rules.)
  • Translation (Write translation into English. Do not include quotes.)
  • Comments (Write comment to help user interpret example. Not obligatory.)

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A language in the database is a language name and a collection of property:value pairs and examples. To dump all the information that the database contains about a particular language (i.e., to create a mini-grammar), click on Language, Property_Value and Example in the Show bar, and then select the language you are interested in the language constraint box, then click Search.

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Languages, Creating

To create a language, click Add in the navigation bar. Then, click on Add Language. Here is a summary of the information you need to provide

  • Language (Write language name.)
  • ISO Code (Click on question mark to find the ISO 639-3 Code for your language. If you are entering data on a dialect that does not have an ISO 639-3 Code, please contact linguisticexplorer@gmail.com.)
  • Latitude, Longitude (Click on question mark to find the latitude and longitude for your language. Be sure to enter latitude and longitude in decimal notation. Hints: If there is a major city representing the geographical area where your language is spoken, enter the latitude and longitude for that city. If there is no such city, figure out some central location that you feel represents the geographic location of your language.)

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My Data

If you make a mistake entering any data, or  you find a better example, or change your mind about a property-value, you are now able to go back and make changes. Simply click on "My Data" in the navigation bar, and you will be given the choice of editing Examples, Property-Values or your User Data.

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Every language in the database is characterized by a list of properties and their values. The full definitions of the properties can be found by clicking Properties in the navigation bar. Some examples of properties now in the system are:

Adjective Noun
The property Adjective Noun has the value "yes" when an adjective can precede the noun it modifies in a neutral context. This definition concerns attributive adjectives that modify a noun such as “big ball”, not predicate adjectives such as “big” in the sentence “The ball is big.” The noun should be a common noun such as "book", "person", "house", etc. (as opposed to a proper noun, pronoun, or quantificational expressions like “something”). As with all word order properties, we restrict our attention to productive word order patterns.

Attributive Adjective Agreement
The property Attributive Adjective Agreement has the value "Yes" when there is at least one attributive adjective that shows agreement with (at least some of) the nouns it modifies.

New properties are added to the system by Property Authors. If you are interested in becoming a Property Author, please contact linguisticexplorer@gmail.com.

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Property:Value Pairs

Every property can have one of three values: Yes, No and NA (not applicable). For example, the property “Adjective Noun” has the value “Yes” for a particular language when the word order Adjective > Noun is found. The property “Adjective Noun” has the value “No”, when that order is never found.

  • Adjective Noun:Yes English, French (“belle maison”), Dutch
  • Adjective Noun:No Ewe

A property has the value NA if it is not defined for a particular language. There is a difference between a property that does not yet have a value for a particular language (since nobody has gotten around to adding that piece of information in the database), and a property that has the value NA.

To find the complete set of property:value pairs for a language (essentially, a grammatical characterization of the language), click the Property_Value box in the Show bar, then select the language in the language constraint box. Then click on Search.

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Property:Value Pairs, Setting

To set the property values for a language already in the system, click on Add in the navigation bar. Then click on Set Property Values, and choose the language that you want to work on using the pull down menu. You will see a list of properties with the four options: Yes, No, NA and Not Yet Set, where Not Yet Set is the default value. Before setting property values, make sure to read the property definition carefully. The property definition can be accessed by clicking on the property name.

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To get to the search interface, click Search in the navigation bar. The search interface is divided into two areas: Show and Constraints.

By clicking on the options in the Show bar, you are specifying what you want to see in the search results. For example, if you click on Language and Example, your search results will contain a list of pairs of language names and examples.

The constraints are divided up into four boxes found just underneath the Show bar:

  • Select Language
  • Select Property
  • Select Property:Value Pair
  • Text Search

For the Language, Property and Property:Value Pair constraint boxes you may select any number of elements (using the control key). You may also choose constraints from several boxes simultaneously.

Text Search allows you to constrain examples found in searches. You can constraint the actual example (a sentence or a phrase), the gloss or the translation.

There are hundreds of possible searches a user can do, the results of which can be mapped (click Map It! at the top of the search results) and/or downloaded (click Download Results).

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