PATI: Phonemic and Allophonic Transcription Instructor

The Idea
The idea of creating PATI stems from the experiences of a first-year English Philology student. Proficient use of phonetic transcription i.e. the symbols used to write down speech sounds, is often a difficult thing to achieve for a beginner in the art. The way to fluency and correctness is practice but the relatively small choice of exercises hampers progress. The possibility of checking and correcting the transcription of texts is limited only to in-class activities or to time-consuming poring over dictionaries in search of citation forms. The available programs offer tuition based only on single words or use non-IPA transcription.

The Aim
Our project is designed to cater for the needs of students of the initial years of philologies and people wanting to improve their transcription skills. Its task will be to offer the appropriate content (transcriptions of whole texts with the option to choose the type of transcription and variety of the language) in an apt package (a user-friendly and functional program with an effective checking module and an easily expandable database). The goal is also to help improve realistic pronunciation and to highlight the correspondences between speech sounds.

The Functioning
PATI's operation will consist in comparing text to transcription and transcription to text using an internal database. The exercises will be available at different levels of detail, either showing only phonemes or also allophones and/or connected speech processes. We will be putting emphasis on: expanding the system by enabling users to add their own texts, the possibility to define varieties of text pronunciation, adding custom filters and opening the way to working with other languages. An important part of the program will be the checking module, with options of prompting and comparison of accent versions.

The Team
The PATI team members are Wojciech Dziejma, a student of English Philology at Adam Mickiewicz University and Krzysztof Gorgolewski, a student of Computer Science at the PoznaƄ University of Technology. We are taking into account the possibility of enlarging the team as the work progresses and help is needed.
We would like to invite everyone who would like to participate in constructing the database or in testing the program to work with us. Due to the expandability of the system we are also looking for people interested in adapting PATI to be used with other languages.

Work schedule
* July 2005 - the launch of the project
* November 2005 - an alpha version with a small selection of texts
* December 2005 - testing with the help of first-year students and work on the functionality and size of the database
* April 2006 - a beta version with a larger selection of texts and of transcription variants
* September 2006 - the first full version

The Technology
To maximize the potential number of users, we have decided to use the Mono/.NET programming platform, which will enable PATI to run on a variety of operating systems and architectures.
To guarantee adaptability we will employ a modular structure with both text data and algorithms for the level filters being stored in modules. This will facilitate compatibility with other languages and make possible, if need be, automatic upgrades and access to an Internet transcription database.
To ensure versatility and the use of widely-recognized symbols we have chosen the UTF-8 encoding scheme as our character set.