Phonetic transcription. Ling 205, autumn 2012 Week 3

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1 Phonetic transcription Ling 205, autumn 2012 Week 3

2 How many syllables? Syllables can be thought of as local peaks of voicing loudness within a word, which are more than fleeting in duration. Basically this means there is a syllable for each vowel sound within a word (counting diphthongs as a single vowel). How many syllables in /bi/, /kɹim/, /bidəd/, /dʒɐdʒd/, /dʒɐdʒəz/, /səɹfboɹdɪŋ/

3 Techniques for detecting primary stress Vocative chant Tap a finger on a table with each syllable: which tap is the biggest? Try exaggerating the loudness/duration/pitch of each syllable in the word, and see which exaggerated emphasis seems closest to the normal pronunciation: REpetitive, repetitive, repetitive, repetitive

4 Vowel reduction In English, vowels often reduce to schwa (/ə/) in unstressed syllables (i.e. neither primary nor secondary stress), cf integrity vs. integration. Except before /ɹ/ (e.g. in /bəɹdɪŋ/) schwa never occurs in stressed syllables. So if the syllable's vowel is a schwa, that syllable is not stressed.

5 Side note: why the IPA vowels don't match English spelling conventions IPA vowel symbols follow typical pronunciation values of the Romance languages (Italian, Spanish, French, ultimately from Latin) rather than those of English. The English vowel letters used to have pronunciation values more like the Romance languages, back in the Middle Ages, But the English Great Vowel Shift (beginning c. 1500) messed things up.

6 Some additional resources Sammy the configurable vocal tract sagittal diagram: A full IPA chart with ultrasound movies Useful basic phonetic information /typewriter/pract1a.html (transcription practice exercises) htm Lots of links to all sorts of phonetic stuff

7 Becoming proficient at IPA transcription How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Do the in-class exercises, do the exercises in the textbook, do Kevin Russell's on-line exercises, transcribe the names of your friends in IPA, write your shopping list in IPA, transcribe newpaper articles into IPA...

8 IPA The idea: one sound = one symbol a different symbol for each distinctive sound the same symbol should be used for that sound in every language which uses it simple symbols for major sounds (from the roman alphabet where possible) diacritics for more minor modifications Anyone trained in IPA can interpret phonetic transcription, regardless of the language being transcribed, because the symbols have consistent phonetic value.

9 But what is a 'sound'? It's convenient to assume that words can be broken up into smaller units of speech, a finite set of discrete consonant and vowel sounds. But this is an idealisation. For example, when you say the word /spun/ ('spoon'), at least the following things are happening: tongue tip: starts in alveolar fricative position, then moves to a neutral position, then raises again to alveolar closure. tongue body: starts in a high position and drops to a relatively neutral position lips: move into closure, then rounded, then less rounded. velum: starts raised (oral), but then lowers (nasal). glottis: start open, then narrows till voicing starts From

10 What these movements really look like: movements are relatively smooth, and overlap with movements of other articulators not abrupt movements, positions of articulators in a given sound are independent of preceding or following sounds From

11 But we pretend... That speech consists of discrete units, assembled like 'beads on a string'. This idealisation is the basis of the IPA (and all alphabetic writing systems) As a practical matter, it's impossible to have a unique symbol for every slightly different physical realization of a given consonant or vowel (e.g. a 70 msec. [t] vs. a 71 msec [t]. Allows for a compact record of speech, sufficiently accurate for purposes of language learning/teaching and most linguistic analysis.

12 How big is the alphabet? The beads-on-a-string assumption is false: sounds are influenced by neighbouring sounds, sometimes significantly. e.g. nasalisation of /u/ in /spun/, [spuu n]. as a partial solution to the inaccuracy inherent in a symbolic transcription, we can get closer to accuracy by using more symbols and diacritics, to reflect these contextual influences on sounds.

13 Broad and narrow Narrow transcription: as much detail as is possible/reasonable/useful under the circumstances. There is no single standard of narrow : there is a continuum from supernarrow to almost-broad. Ultimately, the only perfectly accurate record is an audio recording. Broad: just enough detail to distinguish one word from another. i.e. show contrastive phonetic properties, not allophonic ones. In English, broad transcription of train would be /tɹen/, narrow [t ʃ ɹɹ eu ɪu n ]. notation: /broad/, [narrow]

14 English allophony See AllophoneRules.pdf on class website.

15 A dark and stormy transcription (broad and narrow) a) It was a dark and stormy night; b) the rain fell in torrents c) except at occasional intervals, d) when it was checked by e) a violent gust of wind f) which swept up through the streets g) (for it is in London that our scene lies), h) rattling along the housetops, i) and fiercely agitating j) the scanty flame of the lamps k) that struggled against the darkness. from Paul Clifford,by Edward Bulwer-Lytton

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