TREFL ▰ an integrated suite of natural language processing tools

TREFL is a portable and easy to use open source application for Windows with powerful NLP functionality. It takes its name – Translation REFerence Library – from its database management capabilities and is being developed as a multilingual reading, writing and translation aid tool. As such, it is also regarded as a language learning tool, but when it comes to comprehensive language learning, the phonetic level cannot be overlooked. That is why TREFL also offers unique acoustic data visualization and comparison features. Furthermore, since data visualization and comparison are basic operations for any observational and analytical research study, the phonetic module of TREFL is also a convenient tool to carry out acoustic analyses.

The phonetic module of TREFL (formerly SARP - Speech Analyzer Rapid Plot) was designed in view of the frequent need of language researchers and students for accessing, collecting, manipulating and representing acoustic data. Computer programs for acoustic analysis of speech sounds, such as Speech Analyzer and Praat, can perform all kind of basic analyses, measurements and visualizations, including graph overlays, but these are limited to combining graphs of different types and for one and the same utterance. However, in both acoustic and corrective phonetics, it is essential to be able, conversely, to superimpose graphs of a given type and for different oral productions – different in regard of speakers or time. For that purpose, it is also important to be able to effectively manage databases of phonetic models. That is where the phonetic module of TREFL comes in handy. In addition, TREFL is recommended in order to create vowel charts. F2/F1 vowel space mapping is essential for the acoustic description of the vowel system of any language. Vowel plots for a given language or dialect (or individual speaker) being easily interpretable in terms of articulatory characteristics, these graphical representations are also valuable in the field of language teaching, learning and (self-)assessment. Thus, the TREFL phonetic module, which is an extension to the program Speech Analyzer, allows creating informative charts and overlays in an easy and interactive manner.

TREFL as a multilingual reading, writing and translation aid tool is a sophisticated database management program for Windows, combining selected characteristics from Translation Memory Systems (importing and exporting translation memories and term bases, segmentation and alignment, concordance, etc.) and Internet/Desktop Search Engines (searching, similarly to Google search, all these words, this exact phrase, I’m feeling Lucky, etc.), plus some elements of semantic search. It is intended to be used as a simple, versatile, portable, effective and customizable reading, writing and translation aid tool capable of managing very large sets of data.

To use the program, open the TREFL.VBS file in the folder TREFL you previously extracted from the archive TREFL.ZIP, and don’t be surprised to find no interface. Almost all functions are accessible through the keyboard shortcuts described in the TREFL Quick Start Guide.

For additional information about this academic project please contact the authors via email: Roussi Nikolov / Malina Ditcheva / Majed Hussein