Category Archives: Software

A simple search utility

I made a small utility program meant to search for English words that have particular phonological properties. For example, you could use it to find words that have a long vowel followed by a coda obstruent. It’s not really all that powerful, but it’s flexible (you can make up your own natural classes) and I think it’s also very easy to use.

The phonological dictionary employed consists of all the words in the CMU database that have a CELEX frequency of at least one.

I used the program in a graduate course I just taught on English Phonology to retest the phonological generalizations proposed in the research literature on English.

Download here.  Windows only (sorry).

Bruce Hayes, UCLA

P.S. to commenters: surely there are other such programs available and I would be curious to know about them.

Vowel Synth

I received the following message from Ben Guo today and checked out his Vowel Synth app for iOS devices. It’s very cool, and only $.99! Ben also has slightly different free versions of the app for OSX and Windows here, but if you have an iOS device, buy the app and support a young coder!

Hi Eric,

I know very little about phonology or linguistics, but I thought you might be interested in this app, a formant-filter based vowel synthesizer for iOS devices with a GUI based on the F1-F2 vowel space.

If you like it or have suggestions for improvement, please let me know!

App Store:

about me: I’m an undergraduate student at Harvard University, and this was my final project for CS50. I’m studying Neurobiology, have done some work in cochlear implant research (NYU and JHU), code occasionally, and write/record/produce synth pop songs with a collection of synths that have taken over my dorm room. (the song at the end of the video is my latest).



OT-Help 2.0

OT-Help 2.0 is now available for free download from:

OT-Help 2 provides new tools for studying language typology in Harmonic Serialism (serial OT) and serial Harmonic Grammar.

The serial components of OT-Help 2 allow users to define their own operations in Gen and constraints in Con. These operations and constraints are used to compute the typology for a list of inputs. New hypotheses about Gen and Con can be evaluated quickly and easily.

The development of OT-Help 2 was funded by grant BCS-0813829 from the National Science Foundation to the University of Massachusetts Amherst (co-PIs: John McCarthy and Joe Pater). Other work produced under that grant, including work that uses OT-Help 2 to investigate serial OT and HG, is available at:


I just discovered this amazing online script for LaTeX users that converts your hand-drawn symbol into the appropriate LaTeX command (it also tells you which package you need to load to have access to the command, which for many people, may be the more useful function). The character recognition is very accurate in most cases, especially for math symbols, but of course, the more training it receives, the better the results will be.

It’s clear that the IPA symbols haven’t been trained very much yet. I’ve already noticed improvement just from my own limited training on ɒ, which wasn’t on the short list at all the first time I tried it, and now frequently appears as the number one choice after a few trainings. So pick your favorite IPA symbols and get to work!


I installed Windows 7 (RS) a couple of weeks ago and noticed that Microsoft’s default fonts for body text and headings –Calibri and Cambria, respectively– have been upgraded to include phonetic symbols and allow diacritic stacking. As far as I can tell, they’re now as IPA-friendly as Times New Roman (cf. earlier post) and perhaps better: in Powerpoint, where Calibri is the default, both superscripts and subscripts finally stack nicely (unlike with Times New Roman).


I’m pleased to announce Charpal, the new-and-very-much-improved version of the IPA symbol plugin for WordPress! Now users of this blog (authors and commenters) can enter phonetic symbols as well as symbols from other character sets easily — and other WordPress bloggers can install the plugin on their own blogs so that their users can do the same. For more details, follow this link.

Big thanks (and mad props) to David Romano for developing the original IPA symbol plugin and for upgrading it to Charpal. Thanks also to Bill Poser for recently discussing character input on Language Log (follow the links here), which is what made me think to ask David if he would upgrade the plugin.

Finally, Jessica Barlow recently pointed out this IPA Unicode keyboard, which has apparently also inspired David to see if he can fashion a similar interface for Charpal

OT-Help goes 1.1

Joe Pater, Chris Potts and I just released version 1.1 of OT-Help, and we figured we’d use this occasion to announce it on Phonoloblog.

If you’re already using OTHelp 1.0, upgrading will give you a somewhat smoother interface and the ability to export Praat files from every screen.

If you aren’t familiar with OT-Help, read more here.

We’re happy to get your comments and feedback, including ideas and requests for future versions, stories of how you used OT-Help in research or teaching, etc.

With technical issues of any kind, please contact Michael Becker.

OT-Help 1.1


Speaking of the LSA, readers of phonoloblog will no doubt be interested in the subject of a talk presented by members of the Chicago Language Modeling Lab (CLML) (lab director Jason Riggle and grad researchers Max Bane, James Kirby, and Jeremy O’Brien). The talk was titled “Efficiently Computing OT Typologies” (here’s the abstract) and it served several purposes: to announce Erculator (“a web-based application that lets you create OT candidate tableaux, check their consistency, make inferences and other analyses, and format them for direct inclusion in your Word or LaTeX documents”), to report on its progress (e.g., the gui is not yet fully functional, but the cli is), and to show what it can do and how it does it (drawing heavily from Alan Prince’s work on Entailed Ranking Conditions (ERCs), which you can read about here, here, here, here, and here). Go on and check it out.


OT tableaux seem to be designed with WYSIWYG editors, such as Word or WordPerfect or OpenOffice in mind. They do not come as natural to those linguists using e.g. LaTeX; it is too easy make a lot of mistakes in where one should put asterisks, etc.

Julien Eychenne, a phonology student who is finishing his PhD thesis in Toulouse right now, has written a small programme which works as a small WYSIWYG editor, just for tableaux: OTableau. Next to generating LaTeX output, the programme also calculates ‘fatal’ violations, and places exclamation marks and shading (if desired) accordingly. It’s a nice little programme.

Phonetic character input for WordPress

In the second post that I made on this blog back in July 2004, I provided a link to a page of html character codes in order to copy-and-paste those codes into posts and comments on phonoloblog (or on any other website, for that matter). Trochee wrote very soon thereafter to note a few other relevantly useful links, most notably this one. But I hate switching back and forth between pages, copying-and-pasting. So I ended the post with a plea for “[s]omeone to suggest and/or provide something better than having to type in (or copy-and-paste) character codes for this purpose.”

The plea has gone unanswered all this time, but we finally have something. Read on.

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While listening to NPR’s Wait, Wait … Don’t Tell Me! a few weeks ago, I heard the coolest speech error: circumnavimgate for circumnavigate.

(In Adam Felber‘s defense, he committed the error during the “Lightning Fill-in-the-Blank” portion of the show; it’s amazing to me that the panelists don’t commit more speech errors than they do during that time. Besides, Adam won the game that particular week, speech error notwithstanding.)

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