Solution for September 2006

labeled spectrogram
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[ð], IPA 131
Unfortunately, ther's a sharpish release looking thing in this, followed by some voicing and frication. There's a little bit of noise, suggesting prevoicing, down at the bottom before the first 'pulse' thing, but not so much that it really tells us there must be something going on before this. But what we can see of the voiced area is weaker than the following vowel (as short as it is) and noisy, so it's a fricative. Voiced. And not sonorant, what with the formant structure showing through. So that only leaves a couple of possibilities, and only one is likely to look like a stop in initial position.

[ə], IPA 322
So the first full period of this vowel comes on at about 125 msec, and the last one is about three or four pulses later. So this vowel is absurdly short. What do we always say about absurdly short vowels? They're reduced. Mark them as some kind of reduced vowel, and move on.

Lower-case S
[s], IPA 132
Nice long fricative from at least 175 msec to 250 msec. Broad band (no formant-like banding, just one big band) apparently centered off the top of the spectrogram. Typical for [s].

Lower-case T
[t], IPA 103
The gap and release burst here are nicely indicative of a plosive. The release noise is sibilant looking (high amplitude and broadband) typical of an alveolar release. The formant transitions in the following vowel are consistent with that. But the short VOT means this is unaspirated.

Lower-case O
[n], IPA 307
Ignoring the F2 transition, let's pick up this vowel around 400 msec. It seems to go on to about 550 msec, which is when the F2 starts to change and the F3 hits its minimum. So that's where I marked the end of the segment. F1 is about 500, so mid-ish, F2 is about 1000 Hz, so backish or roundish.

Turned R
[ɹ], IPA 151
The F3 here is at about 1700 Hz. Such a low F3 can only be an [ɹ].

Lower-case O + Upsilon
[nʊ], IPA 307 + 321
SO the F1 hasn't really moved from the preceding two segments, and the F2 is roughly back to where it was, but heading down. Whether this is really diphthongization or just the transition into the following gap, I have no idea. But since people seem to like their diphthongs....

Lower-case P
[p], IPA 101
Well, as I suggested before, the drop in the preceding F2 could be interpreted as a labial transition. The F3 transition could also be interpreted that way, but that might just be wishful thinking on my part. Similarly, the vowel on the other side is too short to provide much in the way of transitional information. So let's see, what else could we use. Well, the release burst is sort of mushy, so it's probably not coronal. And the concentration of energy seems to be in F1 and F2, rather than F2 and F3, so again that might tell us labial. I think that noise at the bottom is just noise, but if you interpreted it as voicing I guess I couldn't fault you. But it would lead you down a garden path....

[ə], IPA 322
Barely three pulses of vowel. Look at the F1 die out. Reduced. Moving on.

Lower-case N
[n], IPA 116
Notice how the apparent F1 (around 500 Hz is suppressed, but the voicing bar below it still looks nice and strong. That's typical of nasals. Full voicing bar with supporessed upper frequencies. There's a resonance around 1300 Hz or so, and a fairly strong one around 2500 Hz. No evidence of velar pinch on either side, and the pole around 1300 is far enough away from the 1000 Hz I usually expect for bilabial nasals, so I'd say this was alveolar.

Lower-case Z
[z], IPA 133
Now around 850 msec or so, the voicing bar loses energy, but keeps its striated quality. So whatever this is, it's voiced. And the loss of energy suggests an obstruent, i.e. something that doesn't resonate easily. The noise at the top of the spectrogram looks sibilant, at least band-wise and frequency-wise, so this is probably a [z].

Lower-case T
[t], IPA 103
Short little gap, from about 900 msec to about 950 msec or so. The burst is a little mushy again, but it's obviously centered up high (in the 3500-4000 Hz range) which is high enough to be an alveolar release. The F2 and F3 transitions are consistent with that, no diving into the gap and no pinchiness.

Lower-case E + Small Capital I
[eɪ], IPA 302 + 319
Well, okay, this looks like another short vowel, but it turns out bto be a really short nucleus and a long offglide. So. If you look ath the obviously vowel part, just around 1000 msec, we've got a middish F1, and an F2 that looks front (relatively high) moving fronter. So mid and front. Taking the next part, the F1 lowers just a little, so goes a little higher, and the F2 just zooms up to a peak around 2200Hz, which is really the range only of [i]. So this is a diphthongy /e/. Whether it 'counts' as a diphthong, I don't know, but there it is.

Tilde L (Dark L)
[ɫ], IPA 209
So it's worthn oticing that around 1100 msec the F2 reaches a minimum and sort of loses cohesion. The F1/voicing bar also sort of dies off, but slowly, but clearly clicks back on just before 1200 msec, which is the same moment that the F2 comes back. So taking F2 off/on as th edges of 'something', we can see that the energy above is also suppressed (and the formants more diffuse) for that same duration. So this is a thing. The lesenened energy suggests some closure somewhere, but the presence of low frequency energy (between F1 and F2) suggests an oral sonorant rather than a nasal (which should have a zero somewhere in there). So the F1 appears to be in the middish-highish range (that is, is 500 Hz or below). The F2 is a little back (below 1500 Hz. The F3 is a little raised, which is usually indicative of a lateral. so we've got a darkish /l/. Yay.

Lower-case I
[i], IPA 301
Remember what I said about an F2 around 2200 Hz? That would be useful to remember here. The apparent zero betwixt F1 and F2 is probably just due to the very widely spaced formants, and the overall lower amplitude of this vowel compared to others. The F2 transition which makes it look like an [eI] is just a transition from the low F2 of the dark /l/. Exactly how you would tell the difference, I don't know. Maybe the F1. If we could be sure where it was...

[�E6], IPA 325
But then there's the transition after the F2 peak, and this is just too long to be just a transition. So it's gotta be another vowel. But what kind of vowel? The F1 is still hovering around mid, and the F2 is still basically front, if not amazingly front. So this could be another /e/, or even lower. I think the height is coarticulatory, i.e. with a high vowel in hiatus it doesn't actually get low. Sure felt low when I did it. But definitely front. Hmm. Lucky for us this is a function word....

Glottal Stop
[ʔ], IPA 113
See how towards the end here the F1 sort of dies, the pulses in the upper frequencies seem to come every other striation in the voicing bar. That's shimmer, folks, a reflex of glottalization, which suggests a) a syllable-final plosive, b) probably [t]. But this is creak, so we'll call it a glottal stop.

Lower-case T + Right Superscript H
[tʰ], IPA 103 + 404
OTOH, there's a serious gap following the creak, so there's still a plosive here. Now see that sharp, high-amplitude burst? See how its energy 'tilts' toward the high frequencies? This has to be coronal. Unless the transitions point elsewhere, which, thank heavens, they don't. And a long VOT, so aspirated. Whee!

[ɛ], IPA 303
Teeny short voiced vowel, and according to accepted rules we should just regard this as reduced. But if it weren't reduced, what would it be? Well the F1 is sort of in the midrange, or maybe higher, so this is mid-to-lowish kind of vowel, but the F2 is definitely higher than neutral, i.e. telling us this vowel is more front than anything else. So a mid-to-low front vowel of some kind. Hmm.

Fish-Hook R + Tilde
[ɾ̃], IPA 124
Haven't had one of these for a while. This, folks, is nasalized flap, such as you almost only get in North American English. The usual flap is a super-short plosive thing, so it should look like a short gap, or at best a little noise where you're expecting a gap. This looks like a sonorant. It's fully voiced, if slightly reduced amplitude. See how it has 'edges' like a classic nasal stop, but it's so short? See how it has a zero-ey thing around 1000 Hz and a pole-like thing at about 1400 Hz or so? See how the resonances are flat? See how the upper frequencies are vastly lowered amplitude? Looks like a nasal. An [n] in fact. But it's so bleeping short! Flap, folks. Or tap. Whichever. But nasal.

Ya gotta love spectrograms.

Lower-case E + Small Capital I
[eɪ], IPA 302 + 319
Well, does this one look at all like the previous one? Not really. It's longer and more stretched out, but it's spectrum is silmilar. It's F2 has a similar frequency range, but moving over a longer time. And we are moving toward the end of the utterance. Notice how the F1 has fuzzed out to practically nothing from here to the end? Hmm. Broadened band F1. Must mean something....

[ɛ], IPA 303
Well once again, we're faced with something that's too long to 'just' be a transition. So wha t is it? WHo knows where F1 is? Could be around 700-750 Hz. Or I guess it coudl be somewhere else, but for lack of a better idea, let's suppose this is the F1 of a mid-to-lowish vowel of some kind. The F2 is stronglest as it approaches the midrange (1500 Hz or so) from above, and then it starts to lose some integrity. Also around 1850, the F1 does something odd. So those last 50-75 msec or so (approaching 1900 msec) are probably more 'transtional' than the rest of it at least. So if we tkae everything before that as non-transitional, we've got something that seems to be vaguely frontish. Not wildly frontish, but vaguely. So frontish and not higher than mid. Hmm. And there's that fuzzy F1 again.

Lower-case M
[m], IPA 114

A-ha! I hear you cry! A final nasal! Flat resonances, full voicing, overall lessened amplitude, and a nice clear zero between the voicing bar and the first pole. The first pole is just above 1000 Hz, which puts it closer to my [m] ranged than any previous nasal in the spectrogram. And the final nasal explains the fuzziness of the F1. There's a zero creeping in to the resonances, which is broadening the bandwidth of F1. Whence the fuzzies! Don't you love it when things come together like that?