Linguistics 001      Fall 2002     Homework 4      Due We 10/16

1. Pick any two consecutive couplets (four lines altogether) from G. Nolst Trenité's poem The Chaos, and write them using the system discussed in the lecture on English pronunciation. Assume careful "dictionary" pronunciation of each word, and use American pronunciations even though the poem's author clearly assumes British norms of pronunciation (so that via rhymes with choir for him).

Note that the poem's lines are grouped in rhyming pairs, alternating between masculine (stressed-final) and feminine (stressless-final) rhymes; your choice of four lines should respect this structure. Also, there are some obscure words in the poem, so pick lines whose words you know, or use a dictionary for any that you are not sure of.

2. Listen to the this bit of between-song chitchat by Gamble Rogers, musician and raconteur from Florida, who learned guitar picking from Doc Watson, and taught it to Jimmy Buffet.

We got any dog lovers in here tonight?
You notice the way I said that word?
I said "dawg". That's D A W G -- "dawg".
That's man's best friend I'm talking about, lovable, loyal and lop-eared.
(He'll) bring you brandy when you're lost in a snow drift,
lay his grizzled snoot up on your knee
and look up at you with those big limpid brown eyes and say "I love you, I'm a dawg."
And then there're dogs: D O G S -- yip yaps.
(They) weigh about a pound and a half apiece:
be-jeweled, be-ribboned, be-furred, pomaded, powdered,
painted toenails, rhinestone collars,
designed by God and nature to be trolled in the wake of a slow moving boat
in search of large trash fish ... such as hammerhead sharks.

In the lecture on sociolinguistics, we'll take up the connections among class, gender, formality and dialect that this passage expresses. Your task today is simpler: just figure out how to spell Gamble's pronunciation of the phrase I said "dawg" from the passage quoted above, in the symbols of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). Here is a higher-fidelity copy you can use for careful listening.

You can assume that the consonants are basically spelled in IPA as they are in English (in these three words -- don't assume this in part 1 of this homework!). Thus the result will be something of the form:

V sVd dVg

where each V is replaced by some IPA vowel or vowel sequence.

You can see a display of the IPA vowel space here, with links to sound files so that you can hear the sound corresponding to each symbol. Note that vowels blended together may seem different to you than they do in isolation.

3. Download the WaveSurfer software from here and get it working on your computer (or a computer in your local computing lab -- you may need permission or help from your ITA to do this).

Download the same three-word phrase from the Gamble Rogers passage. To do so in a typical web browser on a Windows PC, right-click on the link and choose "Save target as".

Start WaveSurfer and load the phrase (using the menu File>>Open). In response to the pop-up menu question "Choose Configuration", select "Speech analysis". This will show analyses of the sound in three panes: a waveform, a spectrogram overlaid with colored formant tracks, and a pitch track. Right-click in the spectrogram pane and choose "Properties". Choose the "Spectrogram" tab, and set the following value (by typing '250' into the form):

Analysis bandwidth: 250

(Leave the other values unchanged). This will give you a spectrogram in which the formants (resonances of the vocal track) are easier to see.

Note that using the mouse pointer in the waveform pane (the top one), you can left-click to place a cursor, or left-click-hold-and-drag to sweep out a region of time. You can play the region of time you have selected, either by clicking on the "play" icon in the sound control panel in the upper right, or by pressing the space bar. Try this for a few regions. (It's better not to sweep out regions in the pitch track or spectrogram/formant panes, as under some circumstances this may modify the data following your mouse motion, which you probably don't want to do).

The program has analyzed the resonances and displayed them as tracks in red ("first formant"), green ("second formant"), blue ("third formant") and yellow ("fourth formant"). Vowel quality is mainly determined by the values of the first (lowest-frequency) and second formants.

If you place the cursor (using the mouse) at a particular point in the file and then place the mouse pointer in the spectrogram/formant pane, the program will display a list of values at the bottom of the window. The last four of these values are the four formant frequencies at the chosen point. Thus the display might read:

Spectrogram - 00.088 2910Hz -79.89dB | GRDog2b.frm: 00.0088, 1039.45 1577.66 2599.15 4051.78

from which you could determine that the first two formants at time 0.088 (seconds from the start of the file) are about 1039 and 1578 Hz.

Use this method to determine the first two formant values at time corresponding to the middle of the vowels in the two monosyllabic words "I" and "said". In the case of the word "dawg", there is a long drawled region in the beginning where the first two formant values are roughly constant, and then an "off-glide" region in the final 1/3 of the syllable, where the two formants go to a different value. Pick times in the middle of each of those regions (call them dawg1 and dawg2) and measure the first two formants there. Put your values in a table with five columns: word, vowel-in-IPA, time, first formant, second formant. Thus your answer will consist of a column with four rows ("I", "said", "dawg1", "dawg2") and five columns.

If you want to learn a bit more about spectrograms, formants and their relationship to speech sounds, you can make reference to this tutorial, and you can see formant measurements used in the analysis of North American dialects of English here. The ability to measure formants as a way of quantifying pronunciation variation may be helpful to you in doing your term project.

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