The NXT query language includes the query function TEXT, which should return the textual content of the variable it applies to. In theory, Switchboard should support this. The file README.SWBD-QUERIES.TXT, which comes with the NXT Switchboard Annotations download, recommends using TEXT to query the orthography:

($w word): (TEXT($w) == "the")

This is how to query the orthography. Posix regular expressions work here, too.

($w word): (TEXT($w) ~/the.*/)

But this doesn't seem to work for word or phonword-type variables (works for phone-type variables though). There is no error message, just 0 results, so I'm guessing TEXT($w) just doesn't return anything. I know I can get around this by accessing the orthography attribute directly ($w@orth == ...), but this won't work for non-terminals. So if I want to access the entire text under a certain non-terminal (which could dominate a number of terminals), there's no straightforward way of doing this?

  • 1
    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about implementation details of a particular software package, rather than linguistics.
    – jlawler
    Commented Aug 1, 2014 at 19:13
  • Similar questions have been allowed in the past: linguistics.stackexchange.com/questions/1790/…
    – lapropriu
    Commented Aug 1, 2014 at 19:28
  • Quite possibly. However, since there are lots of SEs with specific interests in individual software, I wonder whether it might be better answered on one of them.
    – jlawler
    Commented Aug 1, 2014 at 19:31
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    The way I see it, the question is specific to the Switchboard annotations, not to the NXT toolkit. I would expect more linguists to be familiar with Switchboard than programmers/computer scientists.
    – lapropriu
    Commented Aug 1, 2014 at 19:42

1 Answer 1


To get all orthography from non-terminals that dominate a WORD element, use the dominance operator; e.g.

($w word)($d da): ($d ^ $w) && ($w@orth ~ /the.*/)

or, if you prefer

($w word):($w@orth ~ /the.*/)::($d da): ($d ^ $w) 

From memory, I think we made this design choice as a compromise to keep orthography from the phonetic and orthographic transcription separate for some kinds of queries.

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