Phonetic acoustic analysis for Faifa dialict of Saudi Arabic
LING 139, Phonetics Project, Spring 2015.
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The purpose of this project is to give you a hands-on experience of transcribing speech sounds in a
language and carrying out a phonetic/acoustic analysis of these sounds.
For this project, you are expected to do the following:
1. Describe the phonemes (vowels and consonants) in the language you have chosen.
2. Gather data, based on the first 100 or the second 100 words of the Swadesh list.
3. Record at least those 100 words, using Praat.
4. Train your ears to hear the sounds in the language.
5. Do broad transcription of the sounds following the IPA convention used in the course textbook.
6. Provide an acoustic analysis of a group of sounds of your choice. See p. 2 for details.
For those who work on the same language:
This project is NOT a collaborative assignment. A maximum of two students may work on the same
language. Each student is required to do their own work, meet individually with the native speaker (if
same), and analyze the phonetic/acoustic data on their own. If and when you encounter difficulties
with the data, however, you may discuss the issues with other students and/or with me. What ends up
in the final version of your project should be your own work.
For students working with the same native speaker, one of them should transcribe the first 100 words
in the Swadesh list and the other should transcribe the second 100 words.
C. WHAT THE FINAL VERSION OF YOUR PROJECT SHOULD CONSIST OF:
I. Brief introduction to the language
– its language family
– where it is spoken (country/countries, region/province, etc.)
– how many language speakers
– how many dialects (if you can find the information)
– other pertinent/interesting information
– (www.ethnologue.com is a good source to find the information.)
II. Brief description of the native speaker
– where he/she is from (country, region/province, town)
– dialect of the native speaker
– what other language/s he/she speaks
– how long he/she has been abroad (US and/or elsewhere)
A native speaker of a language is someone who has acquired that particular language from when
he/she was a baby/very young.
LING 139, Phonetics Project, Spring 2015 (25% of the course grade)
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III. Description of the phonology of the language
– vowel inventory
– consonant inventory
– any important/pertinent phonological processes that would help you determine the sound
inventory (underlying phonemes); for example: Do underlying vowels have allophones in
stressed vs. unstressed position? Do voiceless stops become voiced intervocalically? etc.)
– include examples from the data you elicit
To write this section, answer the following questions:
– Where do you record your speaker? (In a quiet room? In a recording booth?)
– What equipment do you use to record the speaker? (recorder? Computer? Software?)
– How do you analyze your recorded data? (For example, to analyze the acoustic quality of vowels,
measurements of F1/F2 are taken at the middle portion of the vowel, using Praat, … etc.)
The sample published articles from the Journal of IPA are good reference for this. (posted on Bb)
V. Description and discussion on the acoustic characteristic/s of the group of speech sounds
(a) Choose a specific group of speech sounds and specific acoustic property/ies to analyze (such as:
voicing status of stops or fricatives, duration of stops in intervocalic position, duration of
vowels in open vs. closed syllables, vowel quality, etc.).
To complete this task, you should use Praat to take measurements (duration, frequency,
(b) For each sound analyzed, choose at least three words that contain the sound. The words may be
from the Swadesh list or from an extra set of words. Find the average value for each sound.
Extra credit: Use minimal pairs/set for your acoustic analysis.
(c) Report the results. To do this, you need to do the following:
(1) Describe the pattern you find in your measurements.
(2) Compare what you find with the expected acoustic pattern for the group of sounds you
analyze (reported elsewhere).
(3) Discuss the difference or the similarity you discover in your comparison.
Use at least two scholarly sources for the phonological descriptions on your language. Take this
opportunity to use the online resources that Madden Library subscribes to (such as MLA and
LLBA, Link+, etc.). Information from Wikipedia and other sources from the internet may be
used only as a starting point.
LING 139, Phonetics Project, Spring 2015 (25% of the course grade)
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The imposed deadlines are for the benefit of your project. There is no credit for submitting early or on
time. I reserve the right to apply 10% penalty for late or incomplete submission. Submit your work for
each phase in Blackboard > Course Documents > Phonetics Project > Links for submission.
By the deadline, you will have picked the language to work on, will have met with the native speaker
of the language, and will have transcribed at least 20 words (of the Swadesh list) in the target language.
Your submission should have the name of the language and the transcription of those 20 words. (Note:
I recommend that you simultaneously record your language consultant, as you gather your data.)
By the deadline, you will have finished transcribing 100 words of the Swadesh list, and will have
found at least two sources on the phonology of the language. Submit the transcribed words and the two
At this point, upload on Blackboard the following:
1. The first draft of your project in prose, in a Word file (.doc, .docx) containing the following:
– general description of the sounds in the inventory,
– statement of the group of sounds you will analyze for the project
– preliminary acoustic measurements
– the transcription of the Swadesh list in the target language (in IPA font DoulosSIL)
– examples and illustrations using words that are actually produced by the native speaker
2. The recording of the transcribed 100 words
On May 6, submit the final and polished version of your project in Word format, containing ALL
Your paper should be presented in a scholarly manner. Examine the structure of the articles published
in the Journal of the IPA (posted on Blackboard). Penalty of 10% applies for paper not following the
LING 139 PHONETICS
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ACOUSTIC MEASUREMENTS OF SPEECH SOUNDS
What to do after you’ve decided which group of speech sounds to analyze:
1. Make sure you know what you are supposed to analyze acoustically.
2. That means: find a set of acoustic characteristics/features relevant to the
specific group of sounds chosen, and know what and how to measure these
features in Praat.
3. Choose several words for the measurements. Why? The more measurements
you have for one phenomenon, the more likely your measurements are close to
4. Presenting numerical values in whatever unit of measurement (seconds,
milliseconds, Hertz, decibels) is a must. Use tables to present your
Possible acoustic analyses, depending on the group of speech sounds:
Group of sounds Acoustic characteristics Acoustic analysis
Vowels: Vowel quality Formant frequencies to
measure height and
– First formant
– Second formant
– Duration of vowels
Vowels: Tones Differences in frequencies
– Pitch frequency at vowel
mid-point, if there is no
– Pitch frequency at the
beginning, the peak,
and/or the end, if rising or
high falling, etc.
Vowels: Vowel length Acoustic duration; vowel
quality, if relevant
Duration, from the
beginning to the end of
LING 139 PHONETICS
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Stops: Duration of stops,
voicing of stops and
presence/absence of voice
bar during closure, burst
of release and aspiration
– Duration of closure
– Duration of voice onset
time (negative or positive)
– Duration of aspiration
Nasals: Duration of nasals
(short v. long, if any)
Duration difference of
different places of
– Duration of nasal
closure (different places
of articulation; beginning,
middle, and end of words)
Fricatives: Duration of
fricatives, voicing of
fricatives, sibilant vs.
Presence/absence of voice
bar, acoustic duration,
energy of frication
– Duration of different
– Duration of voicing
– Spectral slice view (for
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