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Solution for February 2003


"I hope it's in my desk."

Segmental cues

Lower-case A + Small Capital I, IPA 304 + 319
SIL [aI], Unicode [aɪ]
I've got to stop doing this. I transcribed this the way I was trained to, as a diphthong. But there's nothing central about this vowel. From 125 to 175 msec or so, this is a classic [A] or [ɑ] depending on your font setup. F1 high, F2 low, close together and straddling the 1000 Hz mark. But it moves, quite steadily from 175 to 275 msec or so, to something quite front (F2 rises) and not nearly so low (the F1 makes it down as far as mid, but not much further). But this is traditionally how we transcribe this diphthong. Probably shouldn't.

Lower-case H, IPA 146
SIL [h], Unicode [h]
This is clearly a fricative. I'm not sure what happened to the F1, but the other formants, even F3 and F4 continue through the fricative. That's classic /h/, where the noise occurs at the glottis and excites all the cavities of an open vocal tract. Whenever you see more two formants runing through noise, think /h/.

Lower-case O + Upsilon, IPA 307 + 321
SIL [oU], Unicode [oʊ]
The F1 goes from middish to high (500 Hz or so to lower), F2 from backish and roundish to backer and rounder.

Lower-case P, IPA 101
SIL [p], Unicode [p]
Okay, we know there's some kind of gap here (450 to 525 msec or so). It can't be velar, because the transitions are wrong (no pinch). It doesn't look alveolar, since the F2 seems to be dropping from below 1500 (alveolar transitions seem to have loci around 1700 or 1800 Hz or so, so if the F2 is below that, it rises, and if it's above, it falls). Which leaves bilabial. And voiceless--there's no evidence of voicing during the closure.

Barred I, IPA 317
SIL [], Unicode [ɨ]
This is one of those vowels you take note of, but you don't spend too much time worrying about--it's too short to have much information in it, so it's probably unstressed or destressed, and therefore reduced. Following Keating et al 1994, reduced vowels are transcribed as schwa if the F2 is closer to the F1 than the F3 and barred I if the F2 is closer to the F3.

Lower-case T, IPA 103
SIL [t], Unicode [t]
Another gap. Notice here, the F2 transitions seem to center/re around 1700 Hz. Probably alveolar.

Lower-case S, IPA 132
SIL [s], Unicode [s]
Theres a teeny bit of fricative here. It would be easy to miss it as aspiration, but it important not to have missed it altogether. There's stuff going on in F2 and above, starting about 675 msec, quite a while before the vowel comes in between 600 and 625 msec. So you have to account for that moment somehow, and I'm calling it an /s/. The only other thing it could be would be is aspiration, but take my word for it. I presume if we could see some higher frequencies we'd get more...

Barred I, IPA 317
SIL [], Unicode [ɨ]
Again.

Lower-case N, IPA 116
SIL [n], Unicode [n]
This is a long stretch of voiced sonorant consonant. Probably nasal, given the apparent zero around 1000 Hz. Now, the thing to notice is that the first 2/3 of this duration (from 775 msec to about 875 msec) is one thing and then the resonances change, a little, almost transitionally--but they're not transitions. Okay so this is two things. The first one is alveolar. The pole is about 1500 Hz, which may only be useful for my boice. The main thing is that neither is likely to be velar (no pinch on either side) and ...l

Lower-case M, IPA 114
SIL [m], Unicode [m]
... whatever else is going on, the resonance here (above F1) is definitely lower than in the preceding bit. So of the two, this is more likely to be labial, because the pole is at a lower frequency. By process of elimination then, the previous bit is likely to be alveolar.

Lower-case A + Small Capital I, IPA 304 + 319
SIL [aI], Unicode [aɪ]
This is similar enough to the first diphthong in this utterance that I figure we won't go too long about this one. It's worth noting that as high as the F2 gets, it does *seem* to drop just a little towards the end, as if it were transitioning toward that 1700-1800 Hz locus point....

Lower-case D, IPA 104
SIL [d], Unicode [d]
Another gap, the transitions indicate that it's alveolar (well, at least they don't obviously indicate anything else), There's a fair amount of perserverative voicing in the closure, and an extremely short VOT following release. Call it voiced and move on.

Epsilon, IPA 303
SIL [E], Unicode [ɛ]
This is weird. Looking just at the clearly voiced portion, and abstracting away from the transitions (i.e. starting at about 1200 msec), this is lowish, but not as low as it could be, and frontish. So Epsilon or Ash. It definitely looks Ash-y towards the end. Now the weird part is the fact that the amplitude, and the voicing drop out rather abruptly. Why exactly I'll talk about below, because I think it's an accident of the prosody and segmental stuff and just what was going on when I recorded it. But if you thought the second half of this was a segment, let me just ask you this: what the h*ll could it be? [h]? It doesn't look like a nasal. It's partially voiced, but whatever you say about this this is a coda, and [h] is presumably disallowed. What? Sometimes, you really do have to go completely top down.

Lower-case S, IPA 132
SIL [s], Unicode [s]
Weak, if otherwise admirable, [s]. Fricative, 'acute' in the Lieberman and Blumstein sense, and voiceless. Its spectrum, if nothing else, is that of an /s/.

Lower-case K, IPA 109
SIL [k], Unicode [k]
Well, there's a gap. So it must be a plosive. It's following an [s], so it's most likely voiced, given that this is English. It's got a nice little release, and what there is in the way of aspiration or whatever following the relese, is centered in the F2-F3 range, i.e. looks like velar pinch. Which is pretty much the only clue that this is velar, if you can't convince yourself that there's anything going on in the /s/ noise, which I don't think there really is.

The prosody and intonation

I've tried to follow the current E_ToBI transcription conventions, with a few adjustments. 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.

"I"
Break Index: 1
My range really seems to bottom out just above 100 Hz at the beginning of an utterance, and just below at the end. This is nice and flat and low, hence L*.

"hope"
Break Index: 1
H*, accounting for the peak.

"it's"
Break Index: 0
0BIs are essentially orthographic word boundaries apparently unmarked by any prosodic effects. There's nothing going on here except interpolation of pitch between the previous H* and some following L.

"in"
Break Index: 0
'Nother one.

"my"
Break Index: 1
Well, there has to be a L somehwere, and I pick here. It's the bottom of the pitch range (except for a very weird boundary tone to follow), it's cleary separated from the following stuff, and, well, there needed to be one.

"desk"
Break Index: 4
These utterance-final monosyllables get really complicated. This is a lexical content word, and in this utterance it's fairly important. So it's gets a lexical prominence, H*. It's also the end of a phrase and the end of an utterance, so it gets boundary tones (okay, technically a phrase accent and a boundary tone) associated with each. One or the other has to be L, since the pitch obviously falls during this vowel. So (since H*+L lexical tones are disallowed), I've chosen L- and L%. The weird part is that the pitch bottoms out so sharply during the first half of the vowel, basically I lose voicing altogether. Probably the result of combining final low pitch ranges with the aerodynamic requirements of the following voiceless fricative, my voicing just dies out in the middle of the vowel. Go fig.