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Solution for March 2003


"The bus leaves on the half-hour."

Segmental cues

Eth, IPA 131
SIL [D], Unicode [ð]
Okay, so whatever this is, it's voiced. There's not a lot in the way of resonance here, although that's not that informative, given the initial position. The transitions in the following vowel suggests coronal (F2 falls from just above 1500, F3 falls from somewhere), and there's a bit of noise in the very high frequencies. The noise seems like it goes on sort of long just to be 'release', so this is probably frication. Coronal frication. And voiced. But this isn't sibilant at all (too much voicing and not enough noise) so that pretty much leaves Eth.

Schwa, IPA 322
SIL [], Unicode [ə]
Once again, the rules for teeny short vowels, and this is probably the shortest vowel in this utterance: 1) don't waste a lot of time trying to work out the category--if it's that short, it's probably stressless, and therefore 'reduced'; 2) therefore transcribe it as schwa, or barred i. Following Keating et al 1994, I use barred i if F2 is closer to F3 than F1, and schaw otherwise. Done.

Lower-case B, IPA 102
SIL [b], Unicode [b]
Okay, there's a nice little gap here, indicating some fairly serious closure. It's fully voiced, and except for some nonsense above 1000 Hz, there's nothing going on higher up. The transitions, particularly F2 and F3, are falling as the approach this closure, and rising out of it after release. This is typical of bilabials.

Turned V, IPA 314
SIL [], Unicode [ʌ]
Well, this is a nice little vowel. Once the F1 gets to where it seems to be going about a third of the way through, it seems to be hovering around 750 Hz or so, which is a little high, so this vowel is low of mid. The F2 seems to get where it's going fairly quickly and starts to move somewhere else in the last third of the vowel. For the first two thirds, though, it's hovering around 1200 Hz. So this is pretty far back. And lower than mid. So go look at the IPA chart and find a mid-to-low, back vowel. The F3 is just a little high of neutral, sort of, which suggests nothing except this vowel cannot be at all round. Which pretty much narrows it down, IPA-wise.

Lower-case S, IPA 132
SIL [s], Unicode [s]
This is a fairly classic [s]. There's no trace of voicing here anywhere. There's very broad band frication energy, and it gets stronger as we go up in frequency. This is classically [s]. So transcribe it in the classical manner, and get on with it.

Lower-case L + Mid Tilde, IPA 155 + 428 (composed, IPA 209)
SIL [l], Unicode [ɫ]
Well, there's very little evidence that there's anything here at all, but the sentence doesn't make sense if there isn't something here. So if there must be something here, what can it be. There's some friction at the upper frequencies, but that's actually sort of a red herring. The F3 is obliterated by the noise or whatever that is between 2250 and 3250 Hz. So there's nothing except the F2 to go on. The F2 is quite low (though not quite as low as I'd expect for [w]), which leaves [l]. Which you'll all recall is always velarized in (North American) English, though not always to the same degree.

Lower-case V, IPA 129
SIL [v], Unicode [v]
This is even fricative, so don't give me grief. I want to point out that there's frication more or less continuous starting from about 825 msec and continuing straight through to about 925 msec. But if you look at the voicing bar (the low-frequency striations), there's a change that happens just shy of 900 msec. The bandwidth of that energy reduces, suggesting a change of stricture (toward greater stricture) at that point. So there's your evidence, if you need some, that there's a segment here. Okay, frankly, the [v] might actually start earlier, i.e. around 800 msec, which is when the transitions are clearly pointing down, as for (bi)labials. The higher-frequency frication doesn't begin until later, which is probably coarticulation with the following [z]. But I marked the beginning of this at the moment where the F1 seems to lose energy, i.e. go from fully resonant vowel to less resonant approximant/fricative thingy.


Lower-case Z, IPA 133
SIL [z], Unicode [z]
Okay, excluding any clues that might have led us to the preceding [v], this is voiced, it's a fricative, and it looks like it's high-frequency. The transitions into the following vowel indicate a coronal, (notice the F2 and F3 fall slightly into the following vowel).

Script A, IPA 305
SIL [A], Unicode [ɑ]
Well, if you look very closely (and wish very hard), the F1 here is just a little higher here than the second vowel back. So it's lower. How many lower vowels than that can you think of. This one must be back, considering how low the F2 is. La.

Lower-case N, IPA 116
SIL [n], Unicode [n]
Well, finally, this one is sonorant. You can tell because it has resonances. It's of lower amplitude than the vowel on either side, so it must be a consonant. It has a pretty good zero between 1250 and 2100 Hz or so, which suggests nasal. Once you know it's a nasal, you know (because it's my voice) that my coronal nasal has an F2 (or whatever) around 1100 Hz, where my bilabial one has one higher (about 1500 Hz or so). So this one must be the coronal.

Eth, IPA 131
SIL [D], Unicode [ð]
Well, as little evidence as there was for the Eth at the beginning of this utterance, there's just none for this one. This is probably because in general nasal-voiced plosive sequences wipe out all evidence of the oral closure (if there is one) with the nasal, and this is similar. I could make up somethng about there being something in the high frequencies, but there just isn't. Get this one by top-down processing.

Schwa, IPA 322
SIL [], Unicode [ə]
What I said before about little short vowels.

Lower-case H, IPA 146
SIL [h], Unicode [h]
Well, I just realized that this is obviously fully voiced, and so I should have transcribed it as hooktop H, but I didn't. This is broad band noise, but it's organized in formants (at least F2 and F3), which is what happens when you have breathy-voiced source moving through an otherwise open vocal tract.

Ash, IPA 325
SIL [Q], Unicode [æ]
Well, frankly this is as low a vowel as I have every produced. I don' t quite know how I did it, but...there's the F1, way up there. The F2, while it looks sort of low, if you notice is really right around 1500 Hz, i.e. neutral. So this isn't really back. Low, not back, you have a couple of choices. I chose ash.

Lower-case F, IPA 128
SIL [f], Unicode [f]
Okay, I would have called this one an [h] again, but I knew better. And looking at it again, although there is some formant organization, the real noise in this thing, which is really just the middle of this segment, isn't connected to the formants. It's broadish band, but unshaped by much in the way of filtering, which suggests an extremely forward fricative, i.e. /f/ or theta. There's not much in the way of transition or other clues here, so either is a good guess. But one of them makes a decent word and one doesn't.

Lower-case A + Upsilon, IPA 304 + 321
SIL [aU], Unicode [aʊ]
Okay, this starts, really, in exactly the same place as the previous one, so they may be coarticulating in some way. That and I just used the conventional notation for the diphthong. Starts low and stays there, which is a little odd. Starts back and gets backer, i.e. rounder, which as far as English diphthongs goes, only gives you one choice. I went back and forth over whether I should put a [w] in, at about the point where I put the segment mark, i.e around 1650 msec or so, since there's definitely a moment there where the F2 reaches its minimum and steady state. But since that moment does not correspond with anything like a steady state or gap in the higher frequencies, I decided not to. Discuss.

Turned R + Syllabicity Mark, IPA 151 + 431
SIL [`], Unicode [ɹ̩]
F3, while noisy, is exceedingly low, around, I suppose 1750 Hz or so. Below 2000 Hz. Can only be /r/. For me, I feel this as a syllable. Discuss.

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.

"the"
Break Index: 0
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*.

"bus"
Break Index: 1
Lexical word, and it seems to get a high pitch (although not as high as most other HiF0s in my voice), hence H*.

"leaves"
Break Index: 3
I had to give this its own H*, first because it's a lexical word at the end of a phrase, so it needed something of its own, but it's oddly displaced to the beginning of the vowel. I don't think this is just interpolation between the preceding H* and the following L-. When I said it, and listened to it, it sure felt like an H+L, of whichever * variety, but those aren't allowed any more, and we can get the L from the phrase accent (i.e. the - tone) associated with the 3BI. So that's what I did.

"on"
Break Index: 0
'Nother one.

"the"
Break Index: 0
Ditto. Function words, short, stressless, I figure are what else is a 0BI for?

"half"
Break Index: 0
Okay, once again, I appeal to the ToBI people to rule on this one. I've marked this with a 0BI, because this is the first 'word' in a compound, i.e. there's no lexical word boundary here. On the other hand, I think this word gets its own H*, perhaps because it's potentially contrastive or focussed, so there you go. So would that be a 1BI? or even a 2BI? Or would I not bother, and just mark both parts of the compound as one word without a BI in between, in which case what the heck would the H on this word?

"hour"
Break Index: 4
Similar to the preceding, a lexical word gets an H* (or some other *) of its own, followed by phrase accent (-) and boundary tone (%), in this case both L, resulting in the quick but extended fall on this syllable.