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Solution for October 2002


"Virgin sharks lay eggs that hatch."

In case you're wondering, yes, this happened. Parthenogenesis has been reported in a white spotted bamboo shark at Belle Isle Aquarium in Detroit, MI. Check out this report from National Geographic. Belle Isle Aquarium appears to be affiliated with the Detroit Zoological Institute but they don't seem to have their own website.


Lower-case V, IPA 129
SIL [V], Unicode [ʋ]
Very sonorant, there being resonances (formants) about, well, in the low-to-mid F1 range and teh very low F2 range. These resonances are weak, compared to the following vowel. So we're clearly looking at a sonorant consonant, and probably not nasal, since there's no zero in the usual range. (The apparent zeroes above 2000 Hz are attributable to the general lack of energy/amplitude, since the energy in voicing drops off something like 6dB/octave under normal conditions.) For those of you who are noticing the extremely low F3, you may want this to be an /r/. But I've rarely seen an utterance-initial /r/ with a) so much energy, b) a distinct steady state that is that long, and c) any energy above F3. And check out the F4, which seems to be rising. This one is tough, but the transitions in F4 and F5 (if you can convince yourself to see them) may indicate labiality. There's also just a trace of noise in F3 and F4, and certainly in the transition between this thing and the following vowel, which might indicate an underlying fricative. Why on earth an initial fricative should vocalize quite like /v/ always seems to do is quite beyond me.

Turned R + Syllabicity Mark, IPA 151 + 431
SIL [`], Unicode [ɹ̩]
Well, haivng already mentioned the F3, I'll just say there it is. F3s that low can only be North-American approximant /r/. The rising F2/F3 are probably transitions into the following consonant.

Lower-case D, IPA 104
SIL [d], Unicode [d]
I'm still trying to decide of the noise I get in otherwise well-behaved stops is just me, my recording environment (I usually just sit in my office for these things), my microphone (which isn't bad in the abstract), or some combination. But there you go. This is (weird echoey noise at 1500 Hz aside) a gap, indicating a good stop closure. And note the clear voicing striations at the bottom. Voiced stop. Definitely not labial, due to the rising F2 into and falling F2 out. Not really velar-pinchy looking, but that might be a good guess, but I don't want to open up the post-alveolar-as-palatal-as-fronted-velar debate at this moment. Note the fricative release, treated separately.

Yogh, IPA 135
SIL [Z], Unicode [ʒ]
Probably still voiced, although this bit if high-amplitude frication is a bit short to be certain Note the clear burst running the top to bottom at about 320 msec, and the very high amplitude noise in the F3-F4-and-higher range. High amplitude, high frequency frication is sibilance. The fact that the amplitude peak seams to be in the F4-F5 range (i.e. visible to us on this frequency scale) and not above, and also that there's really no noise below 1500Hz suggests post-alveolar rather than alveolar sibilance. Voiced, probably, as I say.

Barred I, IPA 317
SIL [], Unicode [ɨ]
Short vowel. Given that this is so short it's almost definitely unstressed, mark it with something schwa-like and go on. I chose barred-i following Keating et al. (1994), given the F2 appears to be closer to F3 than F1.

Lower-case N, IPA 116
SIL [n], Unicode [n]
This is a nice long sonorant consonant, for the same reason the first one was. It's got resonances, but they're weak relative to things that we know we are going to want to call vowels. THis one does have a good zero, about 1200 Hz again, with a pole at about 1500. If you know my voice, you know this is probably /n/. Note the length of this thing. This is what is often considered a syllabic nasal, but as you can see, there's definitely a short stretch of vowel before the nasal begins. So empirically/phonetically, not syllabic at all. Phonologically? Who knows? As a phonetician, I don't care (much).

Esh, IPA 134
SIL [S], Unicode [ʃ]
High amplitude frication, concentrated in the F3-F4 range, and cutting out below 1500 Hz or so. Sibilance, probably post alveolar, and in this case absolutely voiceless. The 'downward' moving centre to the noise is probably due to coarticulation with the following rhoticized vowel and the /r/ following that. It sort of follows the path of the F3.

Script A + Rhoticity Sign, IPA 305 + 419
SIL [A], Unicode [ɑ˞]
I don't want to have a fight about this. Here's what always seems to go on with vaguely backish and non-high vowels followed by /r/. There's something like a steady state, or at least an moment when reaches its maximum/minimum, while the F3 is moving above it, and then there's a momemt when the F3 reaches its minimum, with the F2 moving under it. The F3 steady state is harder to view here, but I've located it approximately in my segmentation. So the first part of this has the high F1, low F2, the two straddling 1000 Hz, structure of a low back vowel (script a). It has a low F3 of a rhoticized vowel. So that's how I've transcribed it.

Turned R, IPA 151
SIL [], Unicode [ɹ]
Continuing in that vein, I regard the /r/ here as separate and segmentalbe. Notice there's a sharp discontinuity in pitch at about 720 msec, which is more or less the moment where the F1 and F2 start to move again. Note also that the F3 (which is kind of indistinct in the preceding segmetn) becomes more distinct, and is pretty flat. So even though the F2 is moving, I regard this as a separate segment. It's not my fault that the 'specifications' for /r/ include the low F3, but do not include anything specific for F2. This is my story and I'm sticking to it.

Lower-case K, IPA 109
SIL [k], Unicode [k]
If you are clever, you spotted the velar pinch with the F3 of the /r/ dropping for no apparent reason just a bit at the end, meeting the upward moving F2 on the way to the closure. You may also have noticed the double burst at about 900 msec, which commonly accompanies velar releases.

Lower-case S, IPA 132
SIL [s], Unicode [s]
Definitely fricative, almost definitely voiceless, and with its amplitude getting higher as you go up the frequency scale. Definitely [s].

Lower-case L + Mid Tilde, IPA 155 + 428
SIL [l], Unicode [ɫ] (hey, lookee, this is the composed Unicode symbol)
Note the low F2, starting around 1000 Hz and rising sharply. Note also the raised F3, both commonly associated with dark (velarized) /l/ in North American English.

Lower-case E + Raising Sign, IPA 302 + 429
SIL [e3], Unicode [e̝] (NB: I've just noticed that the Lucida Sans Unicode for this diacritic is wrong)
Owing to the F2 transition from the dark /l/, I had a hard time assigning a symbol, or for that matter a segmentation, to this vowel. So I compromized. It's mid (F1 around 500 Hz), at least once you get past the /l/ around 1090msec. It's very front, at least at the end, where it looks vaguely steady (at least compared to the previous 100 msec or so) for three pulses or so around 1150 msec. So is it a diphthong? Dunno, but I have trouble calling something that has a steady state a glide/semivowel when the supposed nucleus of the thing doesn't even seem to have a 'blip' of a steady state anywhere. But maybe that's just my problem.

Glottal Stop, IPA 113
SIL [?], Unicode [ʔ]
See the creakiness? The temporal dispruption of the pulse patterns? That's creakiness, and it should probably be transcribed that way. But this is the phonetic reflex of a glottal stop separating otherise adjacent vowels in different syllables.

Epsilon, IPA 303
SIL [E], Unicode [ɛ]
Mid, though that extra harmonic or whatever it is suggests that the centre of this formant is just a hair higher than the preceding one, indicating that this vowel is just a hair lower than the preceding one. But still very (very) front. So lower-mid and front.

Lower-case G, IPA 110
SIL [g], Unicode [g]
Nice little gap, for a change, and nice little voicing bar. Transitions out are not helpful, but there's definitely velar pinch heading into it.

Lower-case Z, IPA 133
SIL [z], Unicode [z]
This is the best [z] I've ever had, I think. It's basically the same as the [s] earlier, but there's evidence of voicing at the bottom. Well, some.

Eth, IPA 131
SIL [D3], Unicode [ð̝]
Something happened here. I'm not sure what. Well, I know what it was supposed to be. It was supposed to be an eth. And for some reason, I thought once upon a time, it was stopped. But looking at the spectrogram again, I'm not so sure anymore. Okay, there's a change in the quality of the frication, in the 25 msec or so before 1550 msec. There's a lessening of the noise around 1000 Hz, and there's some extra stuff in the 2500-3000 Hz range. That's the only evidence I can see that anything happened here. Not good.

Schwa, IPA 332
SIL [], Unicode [ə]
Short, and not particularly distinct. Looked like a schwa at the time, although as I write this I'm leaning towards barred i. But whatever.

Fish-hook R + Under-Ring, IPA 124 + 402
SIL [R8], Unicode [ɾ̥]
Okay, there's a gap here. And I thought it was voiceless, when I did the segmentation. Teeniest indication of a gap. Looks like a flap to me.

Lower-case H, IPA 146
SIL [h], Unicode [h]
Fricative, actually possible voiced, which is supposedly typical of intervocalic /h/. Note the disorganized, fricated energy, but organized in formants. The glottal/epiglottal noise is exciting all the resonances of the vocal tract, just like voicing in a vowel. Voilá, [h].

Ash, IPA 325
SIL [Q], Unicode [æ]
Very low vowel (very high F1). Not too back, given the vaguely neutral F2 position.

Lower-case T, IPA 103
SIL [t], Unicode [t]
Gap. Slightly rising F2 (from neutral to just above neutral). Probably slightly rising F3. Classic alveolar transitions. Take it and run.

Esh, IPA 134
SIL [S], Unicode [ʃ]
Again. Note the similarities. The flattish quality of this one is probably because there's nothing after it to add rounding or rhoticity.