Boas is the knowledge acquisition component of Expedition. It guides source-language informants -- who need not be linguistic experts -- through questions about the ecology (letters, symbols, punctuation, etc.), inflectional morphology, derivational morphology and syntax of their language. It also sets them the task of building a complete bilingual closed-class lexicon and a large bilingual open-class lexicon.
Knowledge elicitation in Boas is largely driven by an inventory of parameters and values that are traditionally employed to describe natural language: e.g., case (nominative, genitive, dative, etc.), tense (present, past, future, timeless), phrase type (noun phrase, adjective phrase, etc.).
Examples of parameters, values and realizations that play a role in the Boas knowledge-elicitation process are shown in the table below. The first three rows illustrates inflection, the fourth and fifth, closed-class meanings, the sixth and seventh, ecology and the eighth and ninth, syntax.
|Parameter||Values||Means of Realization|
|Case Relations||nominative, accusative, dative, instrumental, abessive, etc.||flective morphology, agglutinating morphology, isolating morphology, prepositions, postpositions, etc.|
|Number||singular, plural, dual, trial, paucal||flective morphology, agglutinating morphology, isolating morphology, particles, etc.|
|Tense||present, past, future, timeless||flective morphology, agglutinating morphology, isolating morphology, etc.|
|Possession||+/-||case-marking, closed-class affix, word or phrase, word order, etc.|
|Spatial Relations||above, below, through, etc.||word, phrase, preposition or postposition, case-marking|
|Expression of Numbers||integers, decimals, percentages, fractions, etc.||numerals in L, digits, punctuation marks (commas, periods, percent signs, etc.) or a lack thereof in various places|
|Sentence Boundary||declarative, interrogative, imperative, etc.||period, question mark(s), exclamation point(s), ellipsis, etc.|
|Grammatical Role||subjectness, direct-objectness, indirect-objectness, etc.||case-marking, word order, particles, etc.|
|Agreement (for pairs of elements)||+/- person, +/- number, +/- case, etc.||flective, agglutinating or isolating inflectional markers|
Due to the extensive pedagogical support resident in Boas and its tightly organized method of elictation, Boas has been called a linguist in the box -- a tool providing practically the same level of assistance as would a human linguistic consultant. The knowledge-elicitation module was named Boas in honor of Franz Boas, a famous field linguist and pioneer of descriptive linguistics in the United States.
Boas was developed by a research team at NMSU CRL in 1997-2001. It is not currently available as a distributable system but we are seeking opportunities to reimplement it so that it could be.