Making language data available to a wide range of researchers and language community members is an important goal for linguistics in the computer age. Interlinear glossed text (IGT) is a data type which is central to documentary and descriptive linguistic work. With NSF funding, Jeffrey C. Good (Long Now Foundation) will launch the Pangloss project to explore the possibility of extending the functionality OpenOffice.org (an open source suite of office productivity software) for work with IGT. This extension will allow the annotation of texts for grammatical information and the linking of those texts to a simple lexical database. This the allows the building of a dictionary and a collection of annotated texts in a familiar, word processor environment. Because OpenOffice.org?s native document format is a variety of XML, resources produced using this system will be ready for sharing and archiving. The products of this project will not be limited to the tools themselves, but will also include recommendations for standards for interlinear glossed texts and lexicons, as well as recommendations regarding the utility of building domain-specific tools on top of an existing office application suite.
This project has the potential to significantly enhance the productivity of those working on linguistic documentation. Linguists commonly rely on commercial software products to build grammars, dictionaries, and texts, due to their relative ease of use. However, these products have disadvantages with respect to the encoding and archiving of linguistic data. The proposed research addresses the need for easy-to-use software which does not have the disadvantages inherent to closed-format, proprietary applications. This project will also serve as a pilot study examining the feasibility of the "plug-in" model of tool development for linguistic purposes, a method for software design that significantly lowers the costs for the creation of new tools. As such, it has the potential to impact not only linguistics generally but also other academic fields that could use the work done in this project as a model for the development of their own tools.