Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Computer-aided language resources

Learning a second language takes a lot of time, a lot of patience and a lot of plain old study.  Sure, there are books a plenty to help you parse that odd verb, or help you conjugate that key verb in your sermon to give it just the right tone, but why not let software help.

I stumbled upon Verbix quite by accident a few months ago.  I couldn't believe the treasure that I'd found.  Here is their purpose, from their website:

Verbix is an independent non-profit organization that aims to promote and protect linguistic diversity [UNESCO Observatory: Multilingualism]. This site contains verb conjugations for hundreds of languages, ranging from national and international languages to regional and even extinct languages.

Verbix comes in four flavors, two that are web-based and two that are applications for your computer.  Both come in free and paid varieties.

Web-Based Editions

The first is their free web-based application.  You'll find verbs from 81 languages available, not as many as the desktop edition, but quite a few!

I can't vouch for how complete each languages' verbs are presented, but I've been fairly impressed by the set for Albanian, my adopted language.

All you need to do to get started is pick a language and enter a verb.

The resulting return will parse out the verb of your choice into the tense, voice and mode that are available.  Verbix doesn't have the parsing for every single verb available in its database.  Instead, like the above verb, it matches the many verbs by their conjugations.  Most of the time it seems right on, though I've found a few that I've differed with.

The web version has both a free and paid version, the difference being that the paid version provides lists of synonyms and antonyms, additional information about each verbs, etc. (version comparison).

Desktop Editions

The desktop edition is good sized (12MB) but very, very easy to use when your Internet goes out.  It too comes in a free and paid version (version comparison).  The desktop edition boasts up to 316 languages in its database.

Like the web-based edition, you first pick the language you want to work in.  You can browse languages either alphabetically or by the language family tree.

After selecting your language you're presented with the desktop.  Again, we'll use Albanian as the sample language.

You can either enter the word you want to parse, or browse through the verbs alphabetically.  Verbs and extra information appear on the main window.

This is a fantastic program for reference or study.  There is a lot more functionality here than I've covered.  Verbix's web-site was obviously not built by a marketer, but a quick glance at the help file will give you an idea of else this application is capable of.

Whether you only need to verb-form once in a while or you're a serious student, Verbix has a lot to offer.


Carolyn said...

Sure, they don't have Macedonian. In the upgrade they do offer Macedo-romanian, which somehow I doubt would help me. ;) Hey another good program (especially for beginners) can be found at I've been using it to help build my vocabulary. It uses flash cards with varying levels of difficulty. It doesn't help with conjugation, but that's OK.

Jeff said...

Thanks Carolyn. Good find!