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Solution for July 2003


"It left a greasy stain."

Glottal Stop, IPA 113,
[?], [ʔ]
It's always tough to do these initial things. There's definitely soem kind of transient thing at just about 100 msec, and to account for that I need some amazing change of state to have occured right there. So I vote for a sudden glottal closurein preparation for the upcoming voicing. For those of you who care, this is not a 'hard glottal attack'. It's a normal speech-ready gesture. There's nothing harsh or creaky about the onset of voicing here, except for the transient.

Small Capital I, IPA 319,
[I], [ɪ]
I've decided that the strong movement here is a combination of just stuff that happens to lax vowels, the low information load (and therefore trend toward reduction) of this morpheme, and the feact that it's just a very high F2 interacting with a following consonant. Even if you split the difference in the F2 movement,y ou've still got something well above 1800 Hz, and I think there's reason to suppose that almost-2000 Hz bit at just about 150-175 msec or so is the F2 extremum here. So there's the the very front bit. The F1 is a little low (although it doesn't move much at all through this spectrogram), so this is something that's basically high. Front, high, and slightly reduced. There you go.

Lower-case T, IPA 103,
[t], [t]
Well, I guess I goofed and trascribed this as a /t/, although it's pretty obviously voiced. I think this was me trying very hard not to glottalize this stop. Sorry. As it is, I think I did, in that there's a closure transient at about 225msec, where I've marked the segment boundary. This could be glottal (it looks a lot like the initial transient I took to be glottal), or it could be alveolar. I don't know. The clue that this is alveolar tho is the F2 and F3 transitions. Even though the F2 is falling quite sharply, it's not really falling below 1600 or 1700 Hz, and my alveolar transitions usually end up at about 1750. (It may also be that it's being drawn down in coarticulatory preparation for something further on.) But the F3 isn't coming down at all--if anything, it's rising, just a little. So even though the F2 is falling (from a very high F2), this is still consistent with an alveolar plosive.

Lower-case L + Mid Tilde, IPA 155 + 428 (209 composed),
[l], [l̴] ([ɫ] composed)
So starting from this nice transient at 275 msec or so, there's a stretch of about 50 msec of clear voicing (and even resonance) of lesser amplitude than the following vowel. So something is definitely going on here. The low F1 suggests some kind of close articulation, although don't quote me on that. The F2 is a little low, and the F3, well, this is scary. I think the F3 looks like t starts at about 2000 Hz (in the transient, rises to about 2300 Hz in the first bit of this segment, and then up to 2600 or 2700 (continuous with the F3 in the following vowel). Given where the F2 is, this just isn't low enough for /r/, particularly fo rmy voice. So I regard this F3 as spurious. If instead we look at that last bit, the part continuous with the F3 in the following vowel, the F3 actually looks a little high here--it's high in the first vowel (and not obviously 'pushed out of the way' of the F2), and stays high here. It takes a dive later but settles in the last third or so of the spectrogram into a frequency a little lower than this. So taking the F3 average over the course of the spectrogram, this is a high F3. And maybe the F5 starts up there near 4000 Hz and falls. The raised F3 is characteristics of /l/ in English, and the low F2 of backing (velarization, or darkness). That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Epsilon, IPA 303,
[E], [ɛ]
Finally, something that's sensible. Sort of. The F1 here is pretty high, certainly higher than every other F1 in this spectrogram, so this is fairly low. The F2 is just above 1500 Hz--while that seems low (for front vowels) it's not low enough to be at all 'back'. So we're talking central at best, if not a little front. So for my dialect, that suggests Ash, Epsilon, or some variant of IPA /a/ (Cardinal 4), such as you might get with a very fronted Turned-V, as I showed in my dissertation. The high F3 here bugs me a lot, but this is something moderately low, front-to-central. That's all I really know. It's not really long enough to be a good Ash, but stranger things have happened. This is one of those cases where you have to leave a few choices up, and let the top-down information of trying to fit words and phrases into a sentence take over. So come back to this later to decide on Epsilon.

Lower-case F, IPA 128,
[f], [f]
Well, this is voiceless (well, pretty voiceless, compared to obviously voiced things), and definitely fricative. Comparing the frication noise here to other obvious fricatives later on in the spectrogram i'd say this was pretty weak, i.e. not really strong enough to be a sibilant. Which is lucky, because it looks sort of like an Esh, especially with that apparent zero or whatever it is around 1000 Hz. This isn't really a place where you'd expect an /h/ in English (between a vowel and a plosive), and there's no evidence of vocal tract filtering in the noise. So this is pretty front, either labiodental or (inter)dental. But there's not a lot of information here to distinguish the two, unless you really want to believe the F3 is lowering and based on that you really, really, want to believe the F1 and F2 are too, which might suggest labial over dental. But I wouldn't place any bets.

Lower-case T, IPA 103,
[t], [t]
Plosive! Thank heavens, something certain in an uncertain world. Voiceless too. And almost definitely alveolar. First the positive evidence--the release and VOT phase of this plosive has a high-frequency tilt to it--the amplitudes go up as you go up in frequency. Like an /s/, only as the release of a plosive. Make a leap of reasoning.

Barred I IPA 317,
[], [ɨ]

Lower-case G, IPA 110,
[g], [g]
Last time I checked, the IPA had allowed the type-face "g" as well as the print "g", and as far as I can tell Unicode has taken them up on their word. Anyway, the transition into this plosive is pretty classically velar--F2 and F3 coming together. They're aiming at a very high frequency, which is a clue that this is a front velar, which is a clue that there's a front vowel coming up shortly, but there you go. The transitions out are obscured by something else, so they're not helpful. Apparently voiced, although the voicing dies off and once the stop is released there's some VOT. Do not be confused by the leaky noise between 1500 and 2000 Hz, which is just how my velars are.

Turned R, IPA 151,
[], [ɹ]
There's this short VOT we mentioned above, during which F1 appears to be doing nothing in particular, F2 is sort of low (I take that stuff between 1000-1500 Hz to be the voiceless portion of the sharply rising F2 in the following vowel). Now look at that F3 in the vowel. It's pretty straight, so if we follow it back down, it crosses the release burst of the /g/ at about 1900 Hz. (Actually, if we follow the curving F3 path in the preceding velar pinch, we also get a release-crossing at about 1900 Hz, which I'll take as confirmation, but if it didn't I'd just ignore it....) Anyway, if you're one of those who need F3 to be below 2000 Hz to count as an /r/, this one does. But it's a pretty near thing--it might not really be that low. So the lesson is, low is low. The F3 here cleary starts lower than can easily be accounted for by anything else (lip rounding, and so forth), so posit the /r/ here and get on with things.

Lower-case I, IPA 301,
[i], [i]
Ah, transitions. The F3 must be ignored here--on the left it's pulled way down by the /r/, and on the right it's hitting a neutral frequency, so this is just transition from extremum back to neutral. F2 again is pulled (or pushed) way down by the /r/, but it's rising way, way beyond neutral (about 1500 Hz or so), up to the absurdly high frequency of 2200 or 2300 Hz. F2 just doens't get that high except for /i/, or possibly /e/. F1 is consistent with either, actually, so we'll need more information to decide. Luckily, there's stuff coming up later that will narrow things down.

Lower-case S, IPA 132,
[s], [s]
Ah, sibilants! The amplitude! The frequency! /s/ is easy to sp ot. See the noise? See the broad band (basically, the noise here is full-spectrum). See how the strongest frequencies in the noise are probably up off the top of the visual range here, well above 4000 Hz? Classic /s/. In fact, for those of you who are new to this, we often suggest trying to spot the /s/s first, just because they're so easy. So if you haven't yet, can you spot another /s/ later in the spectrogram?

Lower-case I, IPA 301,
[i], [i]
F1 hasn't changed much from last time. Neither has F2 or F3 for that matter. So whatever the last one was, this one probably is (one) too.

Lower-case S, IPA 132,
[s], [s]
Look familiar? By the way, it's not amazingly often you see formant structure in /s/s, because the noise is usually so great it just swamps anything else going on. But here the amplitude is relatively low (for an /s/), and we can see what looks like an F2. Well, this is an F2, in the sense of being the front cavity resonance. I think.

Lower-case T, IPA 103,
[t], [t]
Ah, gaps. Okay, I'll stop. But this is a nice looking gap. Not a lot of useful transitional information here, i.e. nothing that obviously says velar or bilabial, so we might choose alveolar by default. Once again, it's worth looking at the release information, which is /s/ like, which further suggests an alveolar release.

Lower-case E, IPA 302, and Small Capital I + Tilde, IPA 319 + 424
[eI)], [eɪ̃]
I love final lengthening--you can see stuff that you don't ordinarily see. It helps that this is partially nasalized, but that's getting ahead of things. Note the F1 here is just a hair higher than it was in the preceding two or three vowels, but nowhere near as high as for the lowish front thing in the second syllable. So this is definitely our mid vowel. For me /e/ is rarely mid, but whatever. The F2 is quite high, indicating frontness, so we're going for something that starts in the classic American-style /e/ range. So if this is definitely mid, the others must be high. But then this vowel moves. At about 1350, the F1 drops sharply--part of the sharpness is probably just the wide-band FFT interacting with the changing harmonics (which you can kind of see between 1250 to 1350 msec just above F1), and probably there's a change of state going on here. Actually two things are going on here--the change in tongue-body position, and the introduction of nasality. You can see the nasality in the 'fuzzing' of the fomrant edges (i.e. the peaks in the filter are flattening out a little), and the apparent zero creeping in about 1500 Hz. That might just be the distance between the F1 and F2 (I can convince myself this same zero is creeping into the previous two vowels, but this one seems like it's higher in frequency, in spite of the slightly lower F2. So I think something else is going on here. So anyway, the F2 here is high, but not as high as the things earlier we have now decided are /i/. This thing has a low F1 and a high F2, and is connected to an /e/. So I transcribed it as a nasalized small-cap I.

Lower-case N, IPA 116,
[n], [n]
So just about 1500 msec, the amplitude in the vowel drops abruptly, accompanied by a sharp transition in the F2. So this is a closure of some kind. But look at that voicing. In spite of the end-of-utterance low pitch/low airflow/low everything, the voicing goes on and on. So this is must be a sonorant, i.e. open enough to prevent any pressure from building up above the glottis. The zero(es) here and in the preceding suggest nasality (consistent with nasalizing vowels before coda nasals and all that). What you can see of the F2 (toward the beginning of the nasal, is at about 1500 Hz, which for my voice is almost definitely alveolar--there are no velar transitions to suggest anything in that direction and the F2 would be lower (around 1100 or 1200 Hz) for my /m/.