Starting a new language with lttoolbox

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For information on how to install lttoolbox, see lttoolbox and minimal installation from SVN

This page is going to describe how to start a new language with lttoolbox. As lttoolbox is not really suited to agglutinative languages, or languages with complex and regular morphophonology (see starting a new language with HFST), we're going to work on one with simpler and less regular morphology.


A morphological transducer in lttoolbox has typically one file, a .dix file. This defines both how morphemes in the language are joined together, morphotactics, and how changes happen when these morphemes are joined together, morphographemics (or morphophonology). For example,

  • Morphotactics: wolf<n><pl> → wolf + s
  • Morphographemics: wolf + s → wolves

These two phenomena are treated in the same file.

The language

The language we will be modelling is Upper Sorbian, a Slavic language spoken in Germany. There is a limited grammar available in English here and that is what we will be basing our analysis on. The part of speech we're going to look at for this small tutorial is nouns. Nouns in Upper Sorbian have seven cases (nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, locative, instrumental, vocative), three numbers (singular, dual, plural) and three genders (masculine, feminine, neuter). Like other Slavic languages, the category of animacy is distinguished in the masculine.


Here we give four example paradigms.

Masculine animate (nan "father")
Singular Dual Plural
Nominative nan nanaj nanojo
Genitive nana nanow nanow
Dative nanej nanomaj nanam
Accusative nana nanow nanow
Instrumental nanom nanomaj nanami
Locative nanje nanomaj nanach
Vocative nano! nanaj! nanojo!
Masculine inanimate

The differences from the masculine animate paradigm are indicated in blue.

Singular Dual Plural
Nominative hrěch hrěchaj hrěchi
Genitive hrěcha hrěchow hrěchow
Dative hrěchej hrěchomaj hrěcham
Accusative hrěch hrěchaj hrěchi
Instrumental hrěchom hrěchomaj hrěchami
Locative hrěchu hrěchomaj hrěchach
Vocative hrěcho! hrěchaj! hrěchi!



The basics



Analysis and generation



Further reading

See also