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Info updated: 2019-07-24
Average: 4.3 (6 votes)

PhoneBox is designed to support the analysis of language data that has been collected using The Field Linguist's Toolbox.


With PhoneBox you can

  • use phonetic data collected with Toolbox, without any import or conversion.
  • generate a table of all phones in the data (phone inventory), and of how often they occur (frequency count).
  • generate environment charts of all phones in the data.
  • mark phones as uncertain in the data and then create charts of all uncertain phones, giving all examples where there is uncertainty about the phonetic data.
  • see how the interpretation of ambiguous segments or ambiguous sequences affects the syllable patterns of the data.
  • create a chart of all segment sequences in the data matching a given CV-pattern (distribution charts).
  • use any font or character notation supported by Toolbox, including Unicode UTF-8.
  • import the tables generated by PhoneBox into Microsoft Word for display and/or printing as phone charts or distribution charts.
  • and, as an extra feature: import Shoebox interlinear text into Microsoft Word tables and rearrange it as necessary for grammatical or text analysis and/or publication.


PhoneBox is based on the following philosophies:

  • Integration with other programs: If you have already entered your data in one program, you certainly don't want to enter it again into another program. PhoneBox supports Toolbox as the de facto standard linguistic database, and Microsoft Word as the most popular program used to create language descriptions and other printable documents. Other programs can use PhoneBox as a batch program or as an ActiveX component.
  • Integration with an analysis process: The analysis of a language is a process. You collect data, analyze it, make hypotheses, collect more data, check your hypotheses again... PhoneBox reads your central dictionary database, and you can rerun any analysis and recheck any hypothesis with new data. Currently, tutorials are being developed that cover the language analysis process, from the entering of data into a paper notebook to the writing of language descriptions.
  • Flexibility: PhoneBox can use data in any Toolbox database type and in any font you may want to use. You don't have to import your data, don't have to change any formats. You only have to tell PhoneBox what is what in your dictionary database.
  • Independence from Linguistic Models: PhoneBox doesn't anticipate any analysis decisions and doesn't assume any linguistic model. It doesn't do the analysis for you, but it frees you from the more tedious tasks involved with analyzing your data, and leaves the interesting bits to you.
  • Simplicity: Do everything as simply as possible. Simple programs are easier to understand and are less vulnerable to programming mistakes.


There is a mailing list for notifications about updates in the PhoneBox software. If you are interested in receiving these updates, please use this contact.

Support free, forum or wiki
Status Stable/Production
SIL Status Discontinued
Runs on Windows
Unicode compatible Yes
Features none listed
Interface language(s) English
Developed by
License Freeware
Download page SIL Software Catalog: PhoneBox