2.4.9. Changing the parent of a tier

Previous versions of ELAN offered an option to change the parent of a tier. As this operation could cause data loss when not performed carefully, this function has been disabled. However, what can be done now as an alternative is making a copy of a tier and altering that copy. This prevents the possible loss of data, as the original tier stays the same. At the same time the tier type of the copy can be changed as well. In order to maintain the overview during this potentially complicated operation a wizard guides you through this process, which can be started via the Tier > Change parent of tier… menu.


Though an undo option is available it still is a good idea to make a backup of your files before proceeding.

Table 2.3. Change parent of tier wizard

As the result of this process the selected tier (and its children) will be copied and they will become dependent upon the newly chosen parent tier. In our example the W-Words tier, previously a child of W-Spch, became an independent tier:

Dependent to independent tier

Figure 2.21. Dependent to independent tier

Note that as the tier is not moved but copied the names have been changed: a postfix “-cp” has been added to the copies. The original can be deleted afterwards if you are satisfied with the result of the operation, while the copies can be renamed to reflect the original tier names.

If you decide to assign a tier to a different parent tier, ELAN will automatically align its annotations with that of the new parent tier (based on overlapping time intervals). In this case, if there is an annotation on the referring tier, but no overlapping annotation on the parent tier, ELAN will delete this annotation. Be very careful that you do not lose such annotations accidentally. A referring tier can be turned into an independent time-alignable tier without any problem.