Solution for May 2004

"A highboy is a tall chest."

Glottal Stop
[ʔ], IPA 113
Well, glottal stops are nonphonemic in English, but this is phonetics. There's some noise, or something, in formant-looking frequencies, before 100 msec, something that looks like a glottal pulse or two (depending on where you look) just after 100 msec, and then regular voicing kicks in. So unless you believe this is an [h], which I suppose it could be, you have to account for this. It doesn't look like aspiration (unless you believe this is an [h], which it isn't), so this can't be the release of a plosive. So if it's not an [h], and it better not be, this is just the glottal 'attack' of a vowel-initial utterance.

[ə], IPA 322
So the vowel here starts just after 100 msec, and goes on, sort of, until almost 200 msec. It's actually very low and back, but I swear I hear it as a schwa and not at all like an [ɑ], which is really what this looks like to me. So if I were working from just the spectrogram, this is an incredibly short [ɑ], and the only real reason for it to be so short is that it's reduced. So I still might call it a schwa. But check out these formants, because they'll come back to haunt us in a moment.

Hooktop H
[᧖], IPA 147
Well, there's a dive in amplitude here, and an increase in the noise above 500 Hz, but if you notice, this is pretty much voiced throughout (though perhaps only passively). The noise is sort of formant-shaped, if you know what I mean, which is pretty characteristic of [h]. But voiced.

Lower-case A + Small Capital I
[aɪ], IPA 304 + 319
Well, it starts low (high F1) and gets high (low F1). It starts back(ish) and goes front(er). It's a diphthong. Part of the reason I chose this word is that I wanted to compare back-to-front diphthongs. So this one starts as [ɑ], which it's not supposed to, if you follow the usual descriptions of American English. I don't know what I was thinking when I transcribed this. I do remember I was in a hurry. I must have been cheating.

Lower-case B
[b], IPA 102
Well, the transitions out of the preceding vowel are definitely falling into this. THe F2 transition is clearly falling below 1500 Hz, which is alreayd lower than you might expect for an alveolar. So this is pretty cledarly a [b]. It's even fully voiced. Ignore the transitions out. They'll just confuse you.

Lower-case O + Small Capital I
[oɪ], IPA 307 + 319
Well, the F1 is mid (for the most part--I attribute the (relative) lowness at the beginning to the transition) pretty much throughout. The F2 starts severely low (below 1000 Hz) so this definitely starts out either seriously back or round or both. But after bottoming out around 525 msecs, it rises in an unbelievably straight line. So this starts out mid and back and round, i.e. [o] (and not particularly [[ɔ], so for once I really was paying attention to the spectrogram), and moves to something mid(ish) and seriously front. So of the available diphtongs, some variant of [oɪ] is the likekly candidate. Please note the differences between this diphthong and the previous one. If you don't, this whole spectrogram will have been a waste of time. This one looks like it has two targets and a quick as-the-crow-flies shift in between them. The other one looks like it has two targets and a smooth acceleration-deceleration interpolation between them. Hmm. And what the heck is going on with the F2 at the beginning of the [oi]?

Barred I
[ɨ], IPA 317
Well, there's something here beyond just transition between the offglide of the previous diphthong and the amplitude dive between 750 and 775 msec. So there's a short little vowel there. Probably reduced from something.

Lower-case Z
[z], IPA 133
If you look at the very top of the visible part of the spectrogram, there's noise. It's strongest way there and trails off as you go down in frequency. The noise doesn't seem to be well supported by the resonances, i.e. there's no formant-like organization to the noise that is continuous with the vowel formants on both sides. So there's got to be a fairly close articulation here, probably fricative or there wouldn't be that much noise, I suppose. And pretty much voiced throughout. There's not a lot of really good transitional information in the surrounding vowels, but luckily the noise is clearly [s]-shaped. But voiced.

[ə], IPA 322
Another short, weak little vowel, this time from just before 800 msec to 850 or so. Probably reduced.

Lower-case T + Right Superscript H
[tʰ], IPA 103 + 404
There's a gap between about 850 to about 925 msec. Well, except for that clunk just before 900 msec. Up there around 2800-3600 Hz. That transient thing. A clunk. It might be a closure transient. Or it might just be a clunk. It's probably the closure transient, but it could just be a wad of spit. So ignore it (unless you think it's a release, in which case you need to stick in another consonant in there), and concentrate on the release burst and VOT phase. OMG, that's some aspiration. Note the [s]-shape of the noise immiediately following the release transient, and the formant structure (especially in F3 and F4) suggesting high-amplitude aspiration/airflow, rather than a separate fricative phase. The VOT looks like it's a good 120 msec, which is pretty outrageous. This can only be the result some kind of stress probably in combination with being initial in some kind of prosodic phrase.

Script A
[ɑ], IPA 305
On the subject of stress, it's worth noting that the voicing striations in the following vowel are far apart, indicating relatively low pitch. So disconnet 'high pitch' from your notion of stress, and replace it, if you must, with the notion of 'pitch accent' or 'pitch excursion'. Ennyhoo, we've got a great long vowel here. Qutie high F1, so very low vowel, Very low F2, indicating backness and/or rounding. The backness is enhanced here for contextual reasons (the velarized [l] to follow, but that's for later). I don't have a phonemeic [ɔ] or the Canadian [ɒ], so that limits the choices.

Tilde L (Lower-case L + Mid Tilde)
[ɫ], IPA 209
Some /l/s are darker than others, but for me they're all prety dark. The only real cue that I can see that there's something ogin on here, tho, is the attenuation and narrowing of the formants, especailly F3. I can convince myeslf that F4 is raised, but since it's pretty depressed in the vowel, it's really just returning to neutral. So there's something here. And the backness of the vowel suggests one of those modifications before /l/. Sort of. So confluence of possible cues leads us, possibly, to a good idea, but without a lot of confirmatory 'positive' cues.

Lower-case T
[t], IPA 103
Well, it's mushy, but there you go. The main thing here is that there's a sudden cessation of voicing, and so approaching the following sibilant you've got a sharp gap. Moving on.

[ʃ], IPA 134
Well, this is clearly a fricative, and probably sibiliant. It's concentrated in the higher frequencies, but not really in the highest frequencies. I don' t know off hand if this is characteristics of /t/ shaping of esh noise in the affricate (broadening the band of the noise, and pulling up the pole from the F2-F3-range cut-off) or if this is just how esh-noise is really shaped. [s]-noise is usually concentrated well above 4000 Hz, and this noise is clearly centered between 3000-4000 Hz. So it's and esh, and this is an affricate. You can tell because of the sharp onset. You get a sharp onset because of the preceding 'gap'. TMSAISTI.

[ɛ], IPA 303
Lowish vowel, but not as low as it could be (as indicated by the high F1), basically neutral F2. Not much going on in F3. So frankly ,this look slike an [a]. But it ain't. I've decided the attenuation that I always get in the middles of final (stressed) vowels is just the low boundary tone. If this were further back (or rather 'earlier) in the utterance, I'd swear there had to be a lateral or something here. But since we can attribute the amplitude change to the pitch excursion, we should.

Lower-case S
[s], IPA 132
Nice little bit of noise. Centered way up above where it was in the esh. So there.

Lower-case T
[t], IPA 103
Well, there's are a real gap. What makes this look like a [t] is the release/aspiration phase. It's [s]-shaped, indicating alveolar airflow.