Skip to Main content Skip to Navigation
Journal articles

RefLex : la reconstruction sans peine

Abstract : This paper presents in some details a specific aspect of RefLex, a project developed by the author during the last 6 years. RefLex is a project that aims at gathering and making available online all possible lexical documentation on African Languages. So far, more than 1 million lexical entries are available, from more than 1,000 sources representing more than 700 distinct languages from all the regions and linguistic families of Africa. Along with this huge amount of data, the originality of the project lays in the fact that specific tools are also available online, thus allowing users to perform various tasks and experiments with the data. Here we present the tools devoted to reconstruction. These tools are not designed to do automated reconstruction. Rather, they are intended to help the user define their own comparative series, then make phonemic alignments, and eventually posit reconstruction hypotheses. Each step is made easy by various methods: ‑ The search for cognates benefits from the fact that all the original definitions of words are transformed into partially unified glosses that help doing quick searches across sources that might not be in comparable formats. ‑ The alignment module is very intuitive. Words are displayed in a table, each phonemic unit having its own cell. Units may be moved left or right, and composite units may be split in different cells. Once similar phonemes are vertically aligned, the user may label these alignments, thus making hypotheses on the nature of the corresponding proto-phonemes. ‑ All these labels can in turn be sorted and displayed so that it is possible to assess their regularity. All these features are presented with concrete examples drawn from the author’s own comparative work on the reconstruction of Atlantic languages (Niger-Congo phylum).
Document type :
Journal articles
Complete list of metadatas
Contributor : Guillaume Segerer <>
Submitted on : Friday, March 17, 2017 - 11:56:20 AM
Last modification on : Friday, March 27, 2020 - 3:39:23 AM


  • HAL Id : halshs-01491708, version 1



Guillaume Segerer. RefLex : la reconstruction sans peine. Faits de langues, Brill, 2016, Comparatisme et reconstruction : tendances actuelles, 47. ⟨halshs-01491708⟩



Record views