Solution for March 2005

labelled spectrogram
"They found us a side table."

Eth + Raising Sign
[ð̝], IPA 131 + 429
Well, there are those pulses at 100msec, then not much, then some fairly significant voicing and a little noise in the resonances approaching 200 msec. So there you go. Sort of typical of my initial Eths, but whatever. If you didn't know that, you'd have to fake it somehow. Well, there's something voiced going on. And it's a little noisy, and doesn't look at all plosive. So a tightened fricative that's voiced is probably a good bet. Can't be sibilant (wrong energy pattern, and wrong pattern of strengthening) so that leaves relatively few choices. /h/ doesn't go gappy like this, at least not usually. And the transitions don't look labial.

Lower-Case E + Small Capital I
[eɪ], IPA 302 + 128
Well, we've got some vowel going on here, at least from about 75 msec starting at about 200 msec. The voicing goes on for a while after that, but it's definitely fricative above the F1, so I discount that as vowel. The F1 is fairly mid, possibly folling. The F2 is high and moving higher. The F3 is just sitting there. So we have a mid-ish, front vowel, possibly moving fronter and higher.

Lower-Case F
[f], IPA 128
So here's a fricative. It has very little in the way of resonance-y-looking organization. It *may* be sibilant--it has vaguely the same profile as the following fricatives (cent(e)red around 700 and 900 msec). But you may notice that it isn't quite as strong in the high frequencies as the ones that follow. So if one of them isn't a sibilant, it would be this one. And if it isn't, this one looks more labial than the others. After all, all three formants rise (to different degrees) starting with the voicing onset around 350 or 375 msecs. So this seems to have labial transitions out. It's strong, I have to say, for a labiodental fricative. But there you go.

Lower-Case A + Upsilon
[aʊ], IPA 304 + 321
So, abstracing away from the transitions (so starting around 400 msec or so), we've got a quite high F1, a middling F2 and an F3 we don't expect to tell us much. There is a funny discontinuity in the amplitude of the striations above about 2000 Hz, which might tell us something, but since the over all amplitude seems fairly consnat until 525 msec or so, it looks like this is a classic, vocalic-throughout, diphthong. So after that amplitude change, the F1 seems to be falling. The F2 is decidedly low. So this vowel starts rather low and vaguely central, and moves (sort of) up and definitely backer and/or rounder.

Lower-Case N
[n], IPA 116
Starting from 525 msec or so there's something voiced, but of reduced overall intensity compared to the preceding vowel. It's clearly got periodic energy in the resonances, mostly seprated by zeroes. So this is almost definitely a nasal. Now here's where things fall apart. The first pole above the voicing bar seems to be about 1100 Hz. This is not where I expect any of my nasal resonances to be. If it were at 1000 Hz, it would look labial. If it were about 1500 Hz, it would look coronal. There's no hint of velar pinch so don't even go there. So this looks closest to being labial. But as it turns out, it's not. On the other hand, the immediately preceding vowel is round (or at least the offglide of the diphthong is probably round) which may be pulling down the locus of the transition. WHy it sould have any effect on the nasal pole I have no idea, and I doubt that it does. So exactly why this looks like this is beyond me. If you thing it's a [m], try to find a word that fits. See?

Lower-Case D
[c], IPA 104
I'd like to talk to someone about these nasal-plosive sequences. They always look like this, and it seems to me we have to start transcribing such sequences as orally-released nasals or something. (I think Keating et al, 1994, used the distinction between plosive closure-durations and plosive releases to do this sort of thing.) Anyway, there's this distinct oral release at just about 600 msec. It's quite sharp, with limited transitional information in the following vowel. So it's probably the same place as the preceding nasal, just on general principle, and the absence of useful transitions is weakly suggestive of something coronal.

[ə], IPA 322
Basically, we've got a mid-looking F1, possibly just low of mid, so this is a mid or higher-mid vowel. The F2 is pretty much central. The F3 is as neutral as it gets. So this is pretty classically schwa-looking.

Lower-Case S
[s], IPA 132
Ignoring whatever we thought of the earlier fricative consonant (the one that turns out to be [f]), this one is fairly clearly an [s]. It's very broad band, having energy at all visible frequencies. The greatest energy is in the highest frequencies, at least up around 4000 Hz if not higher. Classic [s]-shaped sibilant noise.

[ə], IPA 322
This vowel looks just like the previous vowel, except it's a little shorter and possibly a little weaker. So this one is definitely a schwa.

Lower-Case S
[s], IPA 132
And another [s]. Thsi one is longer though. So it's either the end of a word or phrase and undergoing final lengthening (but then that schwa might be a little longer too--in English, final lengthening applies to the entire final syllable or at least rime) or this is the beginning of a phrase and lengthened due to strengthening. Or it could be a geminate. Hmm.

Lower-Case A + Small Capital I
[aɪ], IPA 304 + 319
Well, again abstracting away from the transitions, the steady part o fthis vowel has a very high F1, a lower-than-central F2 (so this vowel may be slightly back), and nothing much going on in F3. So it starts low and backish. After 1100 msec, the F1 transitions down, so the vowel moves from low to higher, and the F2 transitions sharply up, so the vowel trends sharply frontward. So we've got another diphthong here, this one going the other way. (I tried to work an [oi] into this one, but just couldn't. Maybe another time.)

Lower-Case D
[c], IPA 104
Longish gap. The F1 transitions down, but that's consistent both with the raising of the offlgide of the diphthong and the approaching closure. The F2 however turns sharply in the last couple of glottal pulses, and starts to head downward. The F3 doesn't to much. Bilabial or velar transitions, in the best case, would pull F3 down a little, so the transitions are most consistent with an coronal closure. The gap is at least 150 msec long, which is fairly long, and the voicing lasts close to 100 msec into the closure. That's too long (and too strong) to just be perseverative voicing, so this stop, at least at the beginning, has to be underlyingly voiced.

Lower-Case T + Superscript Lower-Case H
[tʰ], IPA 103 + 404
On the other hand, the release is almost definitely voiceless. The release is sharp and noisy, and [s]-shaped, if you see what I mean, which suggests that this side of the gap must be coronal. The noise persists for close to 75-100 msec--note that from release to the obvious periodicity in F2 is a loooong time. So even though the voicing technically kicks in fairly early, this is pretty definitely aspirated. So this side has to be underlyingly voiceless (and syllable-initial), which tells us we're definitely dealing with a second plosive here.

Lower-Case E
[e], IPA 302
So the vowel has a nice flat F1, in the mid range. The F2 is slightly rising, but very high throughout, so this is front and getting fronter. The F3 is trending down throughought this vowel, but not sharply enough to really mean anything. So we're looking at a mid-ish or slightly higher vowel, with a very front (and possibly getting fronter) tongue position. So again this look slike an [e]. Whether this one is 'as diphthongal' as the first vowel in this sentence is something I'm looking at finding an answer to. But it looks less diphthongal than the other one to me, so I transcribed it as a monophthong.

Lower-Case B
[b], IPA 102
Gap. Voiced throughout. The F1 transitions don't tell usmuch. The F2 transition in the preceding vowel is definitely falling to below 1500 Hz, which is characteristic of labial transitions. The falling trend in F3 might be due to the labialization as well. Someone will have to look into that.

Lower-Case L + Syllabicity Mark
[l̩], IPA 155 + 431
Well, this is interesting. It looks longish and the lower frequencies are quite strong, but above about 1200 Hz the energy dies off almost completely. So we're dealing with something with less overall energy than your typical vowel. Although at the end of an utterance my energy and pitch fall away sort of sharply. So what do we know about this thing. It's either a vowel or an approximant--nasals would have a better-formed zero below 1000 Hz, I guess, and any real obstruent wouldn't look so sonorant. The F1, if it's anywhere, is in the mid range, just a hair higher than the previous vowel, and pretty much dead-on at 500 Hz. The F2, is very low, starting at around 1000 Hz and trending downward. So if it's a vowel, we're dealing with something very back and or round. So this could be [o]. Which frankly would have been my guess if I'd just been reading this with absolutely no inside information. Fortunately, I do have other information, which leads me to reconsider the frequency of the F3. It's petty neutral. The F4, if that's wha tthat blip at about 3600 Hz is) is a little high. So if it's not an [o], it's an approximant. It can't be [r] or [j]. Which leaves [w] or [l]. Dark [ɫ] as it turns out. And [bw] is not what I would call a conspicuous possibility as an utterance final sequence. But [bu]/[bo] is still possible. This is where sounding out the possibilities would be useful. But there's a discussion point to be made here, about the relationship of final syllabic dark [l] and dialects and accents that vocalize dark [l], especially finally. So discuss.