To properly view the phonetic symbols in the text below, you must have installed either SILDoulos IPA93 or Lucida Sans Unicode. If you are desperate to see phonetic symbols in SIL Sophia or SIL Manuscript, or some other kind of Unicode, drop me a line.

Solution for January 2003


"They need to make a new list."

Segmental cues

Eth, IPA 131
SIL [D], Unicode [ð]
Okay, I cheated. I know what this is, so I transcribed it. Okay, this looks very sonorant. It's not, but if you thought it was I don't blame you. This looks a little nasal, in that there's very little energy above, oh 1600 Hz or so. But what makes this look not so nasal is the fact that the 'boundary' with the following vowel is kind of mushy, rather than sharp. Compare it with the edges of the segment from about 375-425 msec. Now that's sharp. So maybe we're looking at a sonorant. But it's not /w/ or /l/ (F2s all wrong), and it's definitely not /r/ (F3's all wrong) and oh my it's not /j/ either. Which doesn't leave a lot of choices except maybe it's not sonorant. Maybe it's just a very approximant-y fricative. Could be labial, could be coronal, couldn't be velar or glottal. Well, that narrows things down. But it's probably about as far as you can go. Voiced, weak fricative. Very weak. Anterior. Moving on.

Lower-case E, Small Capital I, IPA 302 + 319
SIL [eI], Unicode [eɪ]
This is a nice long vowel, suggesting stress. Also tenseness, but as a phonetician I'm not sure I believe in tenseness. The vowel height starts just high of mid (F1 just below 500 Hz) and doesn't do much from there, except raise (F1 lowers) slightly and flatten out. The F2 starts front of neutral but moves sharply forward (starts above 1600 Hz and moves whoosh way high). Good gravy, it ends up near 2400 Hz. I'm not sure I ever produce an F2 that high. About as front as it gets. So middish vowel, moving from front to fronter.

Lower-case N, IPA 116
SIL [n], Unicode [n]
Now *this* looks like a nasal. It's lower in amplitude than either flanking vowel. It's got sharp edges. It has resonances which are discontinuous with the surrounding formant transitions. It's got zeroes, where the energy completely drops out of the spectrum, but good resonances, suggesting something 'open'. Classic nasal. There's a pole around 1500 Hz, which is about where my pole is in alveolars.

Lower-case I, IPA 301
SIL [i], Unicode [i]
Well, the F1 here is lower than the F1 started in the previous vowel, although it's not the lowest I've ever seen. F2 is way high, so this is a high exceedingly front vowel.

Lower-case D and Lower-case T + Right Superscript H, IPA 104 and IPA 103 + 404
SIL [dtH], Unicode [dtʰ]
So I hope we all recognize the 'gap' in the spectrogram from about 550 to about 625 msec. This stop is a little weird. It's fairly long. It's clearly voiced for the first 75 msec or so and then something else happens. If you look at the right edge, there's a very sharp burst, more characteristic of voiceless stops, followed by some moderate aspiration. So it's going to turn out that this is two stops, the first voiced, the second voiceless and weakly aspirated. The place of the second stop you can read off its aspiration and I see I've fallen into old bad habits by putting the aspiration in its own segment. But notice the strongest noise in the aspiration is at the highest frequencies--it looks like an /s/, but it's too short to be an /s/. So it must be aspiration and it must be alveolar. The first stop is more ambiguous. The F2 in the vowel is so high it can't go anywhere but down. The F3 also looks like it's heading down a little, but it's not 'pinching' with the F2, so velar can be ruled out. So here's where you use your top-down information. What's more likely: [nib] or [nid]?

Barred I, IPA 317
SIL [], Unicode [ɨ]
So there's a very short span of voicing, i.e. vowel, following the aspiration, and before the sonorant consonant to follow. So there's avowel here. It's obviously too short to be too important to anyone, so call it a reduced vowel, and following Keating, et al. (1994) I transcribe it as a barred i if the F2 is closer to the F3 than the F1.

Lower-case M, IPA 114
SIL [m], Unicode [m]
Another nasal, for the same reasons--very strong voicing, but overall less amplitude than a vowel, sharp edges, zeroes. Notice the pole here is about 1200 Hz, clearly lower than the pole in the previous nasal. There's also nothing in the transitions that strongly suggest anything but bilabial, lucky for us.

By the way, I may have forgotten to mention that the sharpness of the left edges of these nasals probably indicates that these are syllable-initial rather than syllable-final. Syllable-final (coda) nasals typically cause nasalization of a preceding (tautosyllabic) vowel, and hence the left 'edge' of the nasal may be be less distinct.

Lowe-case E + Small Capital I, IPA 302 + 319
SIL [eI], Unicode [eɪ]
ALl things considered, this is remarkably similar to the first vowel. SImilar F2 path (though of course this doesn't achieve quite the same heights toward the end, and it starts just a little lower, partly because of the bilabial transition. As the voicing dies off, notice the F2 and F3 paths get fuzzy, but clearly start to come together in classic 'pinch' configuration. Which leads us to...

Lower-case K, IPA 107
SIL [k], Unicode [k]
Okay, it's noisy, but that's just how my velars are these days. There's pretty clear pinch going on as the voicing dies around 850. The burst noise is a little ambiguous, but it's, um, duration (work with me) suggests velar--alveolars have nice sharp bursts, as do bilabials, usually, but velars sometimes have double bursts. It's also strongest, sort of, in the F2-F3 pinch range, also characteristic of velars. The aspiration is a little short, but that maybe due to its being at the end of a word.

Barred I, IPA 317
SIL [], Unicode [ɨ]
Teeny short vowel, probably unstressed and therefore reducd. F2 closer to F3 than F1, therefore transcribed as barred-i. Moving on.

Lower-case N, IPA 116
SIL [n], Unicode [n]
Fully voiced, and it has resonances, so this is clearly a sonorant. IT has nice sharp edges, and zeroes (ranges of no energy). This should sound familiar. The pole at 1500 Hz should look familiar.

Small Capital I + Lower-case U, IPA 319 + 308
SIL [Iu], Unicode [ɪu]
Okay, this one is going to be controversial. So here we go. This is a reflex of OE [y], I'm told, realized in a lot of dialects of modern English as /ju/ as in 'few'. In my dialect, /ju/ and /u/ are neutralized to something like this after coronals. So rather than saying 'T/ju/sday' and 'n/ju/s', I say 'toosday' and 'noos', only my 'oo', doesn't look like my usual /u/, but like this, with a very obvious front on-glide and a very obvious back (and round, in this utterance) off-glide. Which I have chosen to transcribe like this. Let the controversy ensue.

Lower-case L + Mid Tilde, IPA 209 (precomposed, but I'm not sure why)
SIL [l], Unicode [ɫ]
All /l/s in English are dark. This one is. See the F2. Low. That indicates backness. That indicates velarization. Or 'darkness'. THis one is fully voiced, and resonant, it doesn't have a good zero or sharp edges of a nasal, and it's got the raised F3 I associate with /l/s.

Small Capital I, IPA 319
SIL [I], Unicode [ɪ]
This is the wimpiest [I] I've ever seen. It looks more like a schwa. If this were /l/-final, I'd say it was just backed to schwa or barred-i. But this is just a backed /I/. I don't know why. The F1 is mid. The F2 is just barely higher than neutral. Okay, call it a schwa if you want, but then you end up with a sentence that doesn't make any sense.

Lower-case S, IPA 132
SIL [s], Unicode [s]
This is pretty wimpy for an /s/ too, but it definitely has the appropriate spectrum. Broad band noise, essentially at all frequencies, strongest in the frequencies above the usual speech-range frequences (say 100-4500 Hz or so). Could be a devoiced /z/, but then that would still be a phonetic [s] on a spectrogram. But that could explain the relative weakness of this sibilant. On the other hand, devoiced /z/s tend to be really short.

Lower-case T, IPA 103
SIL [t], Unicode [t]
The only real cue to the place of this, aside from the lack of shaping of the preceding [s] spectrum is the noise/aspiration in the release, which is [s] shaped. If you think about the release of a [t], you've got the makings of a fairly good [s]. My [s]s tend to be laminal while my [t]s are upper apical (to use Sarah Dart's terminology), so there is a difference. Don't really know how that pans out acoustically though.

The prosody and intonation

Once again, I've played with the current E_ToBI transcription conventions. Rather than a separate orthographic tier, I've aligned the Break Indices to the segmental transcription. I've combined the Tonal Tier and the Break Index Tier as a single line. I align word-level (*) tones with the middle of the marked vowel, but phrase accent (-) tones and boundary (%) tones to the left of their appropriate Break Index.

"they"
Break Index: 1
Pronoun, but under some kind of focus. This isn't traditional focus. This is sort of idiomatic. But it's vaguely contrastive. Anyway, there's clearly a high associated with this syllable, and true to E-ToBI form, it's realized relatively late. It starts very low, making me wonder if this is a scooped accent, L+H*, which is probably appropriate for this rhetorical position.

"need"
Break Index: 1
I assume since this is the main verb of the upstairs clause, it counts as a lexical word for purposes of break indexing. So I've given it a 1. And I've given it an L* to capture the pitch which drops sharply after the preceding H*.

"to"
Break Index: 0
Cliticized, if that's still the word for it. This word is reduced to almost nothing, doesn't get any degree of stress, isn't under any kind of focus, and certainly doesn't get its own pitch accent.

"make"
Break Index: 1
Again, this is a main verb, in the downstairs clause, and I think counts as a word. No obvious pitch *changes* go on here, so I assume this is just a L*.

"a"
Break Index: 0
Another (pro?)clitic, undeserving and reduced.

"new"
Break Index: 1
Okay, I think this is word, in the sense of getting a 1BI. But it really doesn't look like it gets a pitch accent. From the L* on the preceding word, to the H* following, this looks like simple interpolation. So I haven't given it a pitch accent. So there.

"list"
Break Index: 1
Nice high pitch on this, so it gets an H*. It being at the end of an utterance, it gets a 4BI, and both a phrase accent (L-) and a boundary tone (L%). I'm a little concerned about the placement of the L-, which is supposed to be attracted to the edge of the phrase, and therefore (I think) is supposed to be indistinguishable from just the L%. But since the high pitch on this word is actually toward the end of the first *half* of the vowel, I think (in this model) we need a L autosegment of some kind to get this contour. And last time I checked H*+L isn't used any more. I think HLs are never supposed to surface as falls, but just trigger downstep on a following H--thanks to the grad students in the Intonation and Prosody seminar last term for helping me finally get this use of HL. I still don't really believe in downstep. But since what I'm doing here is really 'transcribing' rather than doing a strong phonological analysis, I'll make use of the existing Ls in the string rather than introducing a new one. Hence I slide the L- over into the vowel and away from the boundary, and pretend like I know what I'm doing.