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Linguistics Vanguard

A Multimodal Journal for the Language Sciences

Editor-in-Chief: Bergs, Alexander / Cohn, Abigail C. / Good, Jeff

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Extending ELAN into variationist sociolinguistics

Naomi Nagy / Miriam Meyerhoff
  • School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2015-10-22 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/lingvan-2015-0012


Prior to the implementation of ELAN (tla.mpi.nl/tools/tla-tools/elan, Wittenburg et al. 2006), it was common for sociolinguists to use multiple software applications, and consequently multiple formats, along the route from recording participants to conducting statistical analyses of the data. We present a method which allows for transcription, extracting, coding, preparation for statistical analysis, calculation of some basic frequency statistics, and creation of a concordance all within one program. ELAN is well established as a valuable tool for language documentation. ELAN is frequently used for transcription and multi-tier mark-up illustrating levels of linguistic structure as well as translations and glosses. We hope that this crossover introduction will encourage the efficiency of documentary linguists among sociolinguists and increase the interest in documenting variation among documentarians. After providing an overview of ELAN’s utility, we focus on extracting (or marking) and coding tokens of linguistic variables for quantitative analysis in the variationist sociolinguistic framework. This seamless connection between recording, transcript and coding of dependent and independent variables improves consistency, efficiency, utility, reliability and the accountability of our coding to the original recording. We illustrate a range of benefits and include step-by-step instructions accompanied by downloadable sample files and video clips to illustrate each step of the process (Extending ELAN tutorial files.zip). We also include instructions on importing existing (legacy) transcripts into ELAN.

This article offers supplementary material which is provided at the end of the article.

Keywords: transcription; documentation; variationist sociolinguistics; ELAN; methodology


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About the article

Received: 2015-06-12

Accepted: 2015-08-24

Published Online: 2015-10-22

Published in Print: 2015-12-01

Citation Information: Linguistics Vanguard, Volume 1, Issue 1, Pages 271–281, ISSN (Online) 2199-174X, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/lingvan-2015-0012.

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