Solution for January 2008

January 2008
<a href="../wav/wav0801.wav">Hear it!</a> "A sore back is a real pain."

Har har.

[ə], IPA 322
Cut this one kind of tight, but there's nothing really going on here. There's a hint of something going on around the 50msec mark, but the real action of this is around the 100 msec mark. If you thought it was two things, I fooled you. I think that's just mucky onset of voicing. The real solid voicing part of this is to short to do anything with, so call it schwa and move on.

[s], IPA 132
Lower-case S
Nice broad band, high frequency, high amplitude noise. You can see the oncoming liprounding (to get ahead of myself a little) in the drawing down of the noise energy. So there's a cue for you. But it's clear that until that happens, the energy is centered off the top of the spectrogram, and occupies one , really broad band, encompassing, basically, all frequencies. Typical [s]. (Post alveolar noises tend to damp sharply below the F2 range, and are usually centered a little lower down, say the F2-3 range.)

[o], IPA 307
Lower-case O
Look at that nice little stripe across this vowel, almost 200 msec of it, right at 500 Hz.  Can't ask for anything more mid than that. And the F2 is pretty low and flat, around 1000 Hz or just below at the beginning of this. Mid and back and round. See how easy this spectrogram stuff is?     

[ɹ], IPA 151
Turned R
And look at that F3. At th beginning of the [o], it's way up there in its neutral territory, roughly in the mid 2000s. And down it drops.  Gotta be an [ɹ].

[b], IPA 102
Lower-case B
So here we have a plosive, as indicated by the total cessation of energy above the voicing bar. This looks moderately voiced throughout, so probably voiced rather than voiceless (although the perseverative voicing at the beginning is much stronger than the 'lingering' voicing later). Plosivity(?) is also idnicated by the sharp onset of energy at about 550 msec, with what looks like a release transient followed immediately by full on voicing. The downard pointing transitions on both slides clearly indicate a bilabial, which is consistent with the low(ish) energy, low(ish) frequency release transient.     

[æ], IPA 325
So we've got a vowel that starts sort of low and gets lower (ignoring the transition, the F1 is about 750 Hz at 600 msec and rises to between 800 and 900 Hz by 700 msec. So we've got something fairly low . The F2 isn't at all back looking (low) being, if anything, sort of neutral looking. So this is a frontish/centralish low vowel. The length also suggest a lower vowel. Two possible vowels down there,  Pick one, and guess.

[k], IPA 109
Lower-case K
Another plosive. Note here how the small amount of voicing just dies completely. Must be voiceless. The F2 and F3 transitions in the preceding vowel suggest velar pinch, and this is consistent with the 'double burst' (sort of) and the F2/F3 concentraiton of energy in the release. Yay, an easy velar for a change.     

[ɨ], IPA 317
Barred I
Another short, weak vowel. Boring.    

[z̥], IPA 133 + 402
Lower-case Z
 'k, this is gonna be controversial.  First, let's agree that this looks [s]-like. fairly high frequency, high amplitude noise, broad band, the works. But definitely weaker than the earlier one, and much, much shorter. So even though it's not voiced, even not knowing the words, I'd say this was a good candidate for an underlying [z], given the shorter duration and weaker noise. So that's how I transcribed it. It helps knowing the final utterance, I admit.

[ə], IPA 322
Now here's a longer, though sort of low-pitched vowel that is clearly all transition. The F2  is closer to the F3, which is usually my criterion for whether it's a barred-i or not, but the F3 here is behing pulled down by ... well, something else, so I ignored it here.

[ɹ], IPA 151
Turned R
Now check out this F3. Pushes so far down it merges practically (formants can't actually merge) with the F2. That and the whole thing gets lost in the lower energy. Notice how the voicing never really dies, but the energy in the upper frequencies is lost. Typical of an onset [r], rather than a coda one, if anyone cares.

[i], IPA 301
Lower-case I
So following the consonant, the F2 (and F3) soars upward as fast as it can, as if it were desperately trying to reach some absurdly high frequency before being pulled in some other direction. And it makes it almost to 2000 Hz, which is pretty healthily front. Look at the F1. Low low low. Must be a high front vowel. The frontest, in fact.     

[ɫ], IPA 209
Tilde L (Dark L)
Meanwhile on the other side of the vowel, the F2 dives back down as fast as it rose, but the F3 keeps soaring upward. Up past 2500 Hz, until it's actually high! High F3 is usually a good indicator of an English lateral, the low F2 of backness, i.e. velarization, i.e. darkness.     

[pʰ], IPA 101 + 404
Lower-case P + Right Superscript H
So here's another plosive. In spite of the noise at the bottom, you can still see there's no voicing to speak of. If that weren't enough, there's 100 msec of VOT following the release. So think aspirated. The transitions are a little hard to read, givne the extremity of the formant positions to begin with (on the left) and the noise (on the right), so let's just console ourselves with the knowledge that there's no hint of velar pinch, and no hint of that F2 trying to rise into 1700 Hz or rise out of 1800 on the left. So that and the burst all suggest bilabial. Which turns out to be right, but don't ask me how often it would.

[eɪ], IPA 302 + 319
Lower-case E + Small Capital I
This is typical of my /e/s. Let's start at thebottom. Due--I guess--to the oncoming nasalization, the F1 is fuzzy. I'd guess it was at about 500 Hz to begin with, but by the time you get to 1700 msec or so the only evidence of anything is lower. So maybe this is mid, moving to higher, or maybe it's just mid and getting progressively fuzzier.  Next up to the F2, we start quite high (i.e. quite front) and move steadily higher (fronter). So we've got something that moves from middish and front to possibly higher and almost definitely fronter.      

[n], IPA 116
Lower-case N
The oncoming nasalization does a few things in the vowel. First it's damping most of the energy across the board, such that the zeroes start to appear between the wide-spaced F1 and F2, and between F3 and F4. At the same time, the formants, especially F1, get fuzzier, by which I mean the bandwidths are expanding (if you don't understand that, don't worry about it. You'll learn in acoustics class that nasals tend to have wider bandwidths than orals--if no one ever bothers to explain why, it won't be the worst thing left out of your education). The energy in F2seems to cut off at about 1850 msec, whichis more or less where the 'quality' of the sound in the voicing bar changes, so that's where I'd locate the closure. Following this is just nasal.  Weak, being at the end of an utterance, there's no evidence of poles or anything to give us a clue for place. The F2/F3 transition might just be pinching together, or that could just be the movement of the F2 accidentally impinging on the the F3 territory ("impinge" is a word I don't use very often, but there you go). I can convince myself that the last little trailing bits of the F2 are actually headed back down, so this could be alveolar. The F4 is headed up, so I doubt this could be bilabial (what do I know from F4?). But in the end, I'll go with the statistics and suggest alveolar. Although if I had to convince myself this was a final -ing, I could probably do that too.  That's the handy thing about being equivocal, you can convince yourself of almost anything if you really, really want to....