WordSpinner is a free online software tool that can create an online talking dictionary. WordSpinner makes webpages with audio and images. WordSpinner is designed to be user-friendly. It’s suitable for completed dictionary projects, or where there is a draft dictionary; you can make and remake webpages as often as you like e.g. whenever edits are made to the dictionary (plain-text) file.

WordSpinner has been co-developed during five First Nations dictionary projects (2015-21), involving community members, university students and academics from NSW, ACT, Queensland and the Northern Territory.

WordSpinner is an online tool (a website), so you don’t need to install anything on your computer. The website is: https://dictionaryresearch.westernsydney.edu.au

You will need to enter dictionary2017# to enter the site. Once you have logged in, a set of instructions is available for download as a PDF.

How the system works

In overview, you go to the WordSpinner website and upload a dictionary text file, choosing (with tick boxes) whether or not you want your dictionary to display the source information for each word. The dictionary text file needs to be in a plain-text MDF or ‘backslash’ format. Based on the files you upload, WordSpinner makes dictionary webpages that you can then download in a .zip package and put on a community-approved URL. The IP in the language material is not claimed by WordSpinner, and once you have made your webpages you can delete your data from WordSpinner and it will not be retained.

The output of WordSpinner is a set of webpages. The webpages allow the user to look for a word in language by starting with the English meaning, or to browse through the language words in pages organised by topic (like birds, verbs of movement, place names, etc in any topic system you choose). The webpages can include images (line drawings or photos) and audio so users can listen to the pronunciation.

Below is a screenshot of the webpage output for mammals, in Ngarinyman language, just as an example. On the left is a snippet from the Ngarinyman-to-English output. On the right is a snippet from the English-to-Ngarinyman output where you can look up the word in Ngarinyman, starting from English:

More Information

WordSpinner has been created at Western Sydney University during ARC CoEDL (Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language). WordSpinner was programmed and is maintained by Dr Jesse Tran.

If you are interested in finding out more about WordSpinner, or to organise a free training for your group, contact:

Professor Caroline Jones

MARCS  Profile