Updated April 2023

As a long-time user of ELAN (since 2006 😳), I’ve generally used it to make ASL videos as well as videos of other signed languages accessible (or machine-readable in that we can search, count and sort) and to prepare data for sharing.

Some things I’ve done in ELAN:

  • Segment and annotate ASL utterance-level and word-level units for research related to child acquisition, phonetics and phonology, sociolinguistics, and fieldwork
  • Add phonetic notations to ASL signs (e.g., segment signs into timing units, add hand configuration notation, etc)
  • Use it as a tool for homework assignment in my classes (explore depiction, identify phonological processes, apply different notation systems, etc.)
  • Caption videos

Quick glance at how I annotate in ELAN using adapted SLAAASh annotation conventions

I’ve given several ELAN workshops and have consulted with different projects on how they can use ELAN in their work. If you need some help getting started, here you go. This is meant to be a visual guide geared towards those doing research with signed languages. However, the ELAN manual developed by the ELAN creators at MPI is more exhaustive as well as kept updated.

Thanks to work with SLAAASh, we have created an external controlled vocabulary that can be used with ELAN. See the ASL Signbank to get started.

ASL Signbank animated gif (cyan background, white text)

A colleague made this based on my guide and previous ELAN trainings – Some slides compiled into a single document as a sort of “how to” guide  http://pubs.jonkeane.com/pdfs/Keane2016ab.pdf

How-To Videos
Here are some videos describing how you can use ELAN. Please note that these were made in 2013 and ELAN has considerably changed since. Also, my annotation practices (ID glossing and use of ASL Signbank, for example) have also changed since. But the basics I cover here are still relevant and, I hope, helpful!

​​What is ELAN? 

ELAN: Introduction and terms

​​What can ELAN do? 

​​ELAN demonstration 

​​Create a new file in ELAN – step 1 

Create tiers in your ELAN file – step 2  (note: if you’re working with a template file, step 2 is not necessary)

Creating annotations in your ELAN file – step 3 (note: if you’re working with the ASL Signbank ECV, this will be a bit different from what is shown in this video for step 3)

​​ELAN: work flow 

​​Link ASL Signbank to ELAN as ECV and lexicon service

Goodies from others

ELANport – This is a great resource for learning how to use ELAN. Given in English with English subtitles and NGT.

Börstell, Carl. 2022. Searching and utilizing corpora. In Julie Hochgesang & Jordan Fenlon (eds.), Signed Language Corpora, 90–127. [Sociolinguistics in Deaf Communities, Vol. 25]. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press. [ http bib ]

Börstell, Carl. 2022. Introducing the signglossR Package. In Eleni Efthimiou, Stavroula-Evita Fotinea, Thomas Hanke, Julie A. Hochgesang, Jette Kristoffersen, Johanna Mesch & Marc Schulder (eds.), Proceedings of the 10th Workshop on the Representation and Processing of Sign Languages: Multilingual Sign Language Resources [Language Resources and Evaluation Conference (LREC)], 16–23. Marseille: European Language Resources Association (ELRA). [ pdf | bib ]

Crasborn, O., & Sloetjes, H. (2008). Enhanced ELAN functionality for sign language corpora. In 6th International Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation (LREC 2008)/3rd Workshop on the Representation and Processing of Sign Languages: Construction and Exploitation of Sign Language Corpora (pp. 39-43). pdf

Pichler, D. C., Hochgesang, J. A., Lillo-Martin, D., & de Quadros, R. M. (2010). Conventions for sign and speech transcription of child bimodal bilingual corpora in ELAN. Language, Interaction and Acquisition1(1), 11-40. link