ELAN software

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Developer(s) The Language Archive
Initial release 2000; 18 years ago (2000)
Stable release
5.1 / December 21, 2017; 9 months ago (2017-12-21)
Written in Java
Operating system Windows, macOS, Linux
Platform IA-32, x86-64
Available in English
Type Language documentation, qualitative data analysis
License GPLv3
Website tla.mpi.nl/tools/tla-tools/elan

ELAN is computer software, a professional tool to manually and semi-automatically annotate and transcribe audio or video recordings.[1] It has a tier-based data model that supports multi-level, multi-participant annotation of time-based media. It is applied in humanities and social sciences research (language documentation, sign language and gesture research) for the purpose of documentation and of qualitative and quantitative analysis.[2] It is distributed as free and open source software under the GNU General Public License, version 3.

ELAN is a well established professional-grade software and is widely used in academia.[3][4][5] It has been well received in several academic disciplines, for example, in psychology, medicine, psychiatry, education, and behavioral studies, on topics such as human computer interaction,[6] sign language and conversation analysis,[7][8][9] group interactions,[10] music therapy,[11] bilingualism and child language acquisition,[12] analysis of non-verbal communication and gesture analysis,[13] and animal behavior.[14]

Several third-party tools have been developed to enrich and analyse ELAN data and corpora.[15][16][17][18]


Its features include:

  • Manual and semi-automatic segmentation and annotation
  • Transcription and translation of speech
  • Tier hierarchies
  • Support for multiple media sources
  • Use of controlled vocabularies
  • Complex search
  • XML-based data format


ELAN is developed by the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen. The first version was released around the year 2000 under the name EAT, Eudico Annotation Tool. It was renamed to ELAN in 2002. Since then, two to three new versions are released each year. It is developed in the programming language Java with interfaces to platform native media frameworks developed in C, C++, and Objective-C.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Twilhaar, Jan Nijen; Bogaerde, Beppie van den (2016): Concise Lexicon for Sign Linguistics. John Benjamins Publishing Company. p63.
  2. ^ Wittenburg, P., Brugman, H., Russel, A., Klassmann, A., Sloetjes, H. (2006). ELAN: a Professional Framework for Multimodality Research. In: Proceedings of LREC 2006, Fifth International Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation.
  3. ^ Kong, Anthony Pak Hin (2016): Analysis of Neurogenic Disordered Discourse Production: From Theory to Practice. Psychology Press. chapter 5.
  4. ^ Orfanidou, Eleni; Woll, Bencie; Morgan, Gary (2015): Research Methods in Sign Language Studies: A Practical Guide. John Wiley & Sons. p274.
  5. ^ Ruhi, Şükriye; Haugh, Michael; Schmidt, Thomas (2014): Best Practices for Spoken Corpora in Linguistic Research. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. p 188.
  6. ^ Giuliani, M.; Mirnig, N.; Stollnberger, G.; Stadler, S.; Buchner, R.; Tscheligi, M. (2015): Systematic analysis of video data from different human–robot interaction studies: a categorization of social signals during error situations. In: Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 6. URL: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4495306/ (accessed 2017/03/19)
  7. ^ Zahedi, M.; Dreuw, P., Rybach, D.; Bungeroth, J.; Ney, H. (2006). Continuous Sign Language Recognition – Approaches from Speech Recognition and Available Data Resources. URL: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=
  8. ^ Crasborn, O.A.; Bank, R. (2014): An annotation scheme for the linguistic study of mouth actions in sign languages. In: Crasborn, O.A.; Efthimiou, E.; Fotinea, S. (ed.), Proceedings of the 6th Workshop on the Representation and Processing of Sign Languages: Beyond the Manual Channel, pp. 23-28
  9. ^ Manrique, E.; Enfield, N. J. (2015): Suspending the next turn as a form of repair initiation: evidence from Argentine Sign Language. In: Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 6. URL: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4569752/ (accessed 2017/03/19)
  10. ^ Orfanos, S.; Akther, S.F.; Abdul-Basit, M.; McCabe, R.; Priebe, S. (2017): Using video-annotation software to identify interactions in group therapies for schizophrenia: assessing reliability and associations with outcomes. In: BMC Psychiatry, vol. 17. URL: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5301334/ (accessed 2017/03/19)
  11. ^ Spiro, N.; Himberg, T. (2016): Analysing change in music therapy interactions of children with communication difficulties. In: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, vol. 371, nr. 1693. URL: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4843612/ (accessed 2017/03/19)
  12. ^ Chen Pichler, D.; Hochgesang, J.A.; Lillo-Martin, D.; de Quadros, R. (2010): Conventions for sign and speech transcription of child bimodal bilingual corpora in ELAN. In: LIA, vol. 1, nr. 1, pp. 11–40
  13. ^ Kong, A.P.; Law, S.; Kwan, C.C.; Lai, C.; Lam, V. (2015): A Coding System with Independent Annotations of Gesture Forms and Functions during Verbal Communication: Development of a Database of Speech and GEsture (DoSaGE). In: Journal of nonverbal behavior, vol. 39, nr. 1, pp. 93–111.
  14. ^ Ravignan, A.; Olivera, V.M.; Gingras, B.; Hofer, R.; Hernández, C.R.; Sonnweber, R.S. and Fitch, W.T. (2013): Primate Drum Kit: A System for Studying Acoustic Pattern Production by Non-Human Primates Using Acceleration and Strain Sensors. In Sensors 13(8):9790-9820, doi:10.3390/s130809790
  15. ^ Andersson, R.; Sandgren, O. (2016): ELAN analysis companion (EAC): A software tool for time-course analysis of ELAN-annotated data. In: Journal of Eye Movement Research, vol. 9, issue 3, pp 1-8, DOI: 10.16910/jemr.9.3.1
  16. ^ Holle, H.; Rein, R. (2014). EasyDIAg: A tool for easy determination of interrater agreement. In: Behavior Research Methods, 46(3)
  17. ^ Kousidis, S.; Pfeiffer, T.; Schlangen, D. (2013): MINT.tools: Tools and adaptors supporting acquisition, annotation and analysis of multimodal corpora. In: Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association, Interspeech, pp 2649-2653
  18. ^ Berez, A.; Cox, C. (2009): CuPED (Customizable Presentation of ELAN Documents). URL: http://sweet.artsrn.ualberta.ca/cdcox/cuped/ (accessed 2017/03/21)


  • Crasborn, O., Sloetjes, H. (2008). Enhanced ELAN functionality for sign language corpora. In: Proceedings of LREC 2008, Sixth International Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation.
  • Lausberg, H.; Sloetjes, H. (2016). "The revised NEUROGES-ELAN system: An objective and reliable interdisciplinary analysis tool for nonverbal behavior and gesture". Behavior Research Methods. 48: 973–993. doi:10.3758/s13428-015-0622-z.

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