Tristan McLeay wrote:

> I think the term was popularised around the time I made the CXS chart.

Looking at the chart it's obvious not everyone agrees on stress
marking :-)

Personally, I think comma for secondary stress is by far the most
logical of the three options. It's very counterintuitive to have a
"heavier" character to mark secondary stress than to mark primary
stress ("heavier" = "takes more ink to draw").

Mind you, I've never understood why a retroflex trill is not shaded
impossible. If it's retroflex then the tip of your tongue points
backwards, and you can't trill like that.


Changing topic quite a bit, but still talking about phonetics, I
thought people might like to see how I went about explaining phonetics
in my research assignment last year.

You see, I find the process of how people choose to explain things and
why to be quite fascinating. Therefore I assume that many other people
find it interesting, too (it's definitely one reason why lots of
scientists enjoy reading good popular science books). In this case,
the relevant background is that I, a non-linguist, needed to explain
phonetics and phonology to a lecturer, also a non-linguist, with the
emphasis being on the dimensions within which the data exists (very
important in DMKD).

In practical terms, consider this a review of the fundamentals and an
opportunity to pester me for fun if there's some obscure and pedantic
error :-)

   3  Phonetics and Phonology

   The applications of data mining to phonetics and phonology cannot
   be discussed without a brief overview of those fields. Phonetics
   is a study of speech sounds (phones) that emphasises their means
   of articulation and corresponding acoustic properties, while
   phonology is a more abstract study of speech sounds as they are
   utilised by language.

   3.1  Phonetics

   Consonants and vowels are categorised along different sets of
   dimensions, and can be underestood from either an articulatory or
   an acoustic perspective. The characters of the International
   Phonetic Alphabet correspond to distinct phones, but with limited
   resolution. For obvious reasons, there is a tradeoff between the
   accuracy and resolution of acoustic analysis and the size of the
   database that it is viable to constuct (see later), and since
   improvement of these qualities is an ongoing research area, we can
   expect the phonetic analysis database of the future to be larger
   and more exact than what is possible today, increasing the
   applicability of data mining.

   3.1.1  Consonants

   Consonants generally have much more complex acoustic properties
   than vowels because many of them involve the production of
   turbulent air flow. The author has little knowledge about acoustic
   analysis of consonants, but papers such as de Mareuil (1999)
   contain keywords that might aid an interesting reader in learning
   more. The articulatory dimensions along which a consonant can
   vary have multiple continuous and discrete components, but the
   standard IPA transcriptions capture a simplified description that
   suffices for most purposes (Catford 2001). For example the
   description of 's' as an unvoiced aveolar fricative refers to three
   discrete-valued dimensions ('unvoiced' meaning that the vocal
   chords are not vibrated, 'aveolar' meaning that the sound is
   produced near the ridge behind the upper teeth, and 'fricative'
   meaning that turbulence is created by forcing air through a narrow
   channel) but this description discretises some dimensions that are
   really continuous (e.g. the distance between the tongue and the
   teeth) and ignores other dimensions altogether (e.g. the part of
   the tongue used to make the sound: the distinction between apico-
   lamino- and dorso- articulations).

   3.1.2  Vowels

   Vowels can be described using either acoustic dimensions or
   articulatory ones, corresponding to low-level or high-level
   descriptions of the vowel respectively. Again, IPA symbols offer
   only a rough approximation, but a higher resolution is attainable
   in which continuous-valued dimensions are indeed treated as

   The articulatory description of a vowel includes two major
   dimensions and several minor dimensions (Catford 2001). The major
   dimensions concern the horizontal and vertical position of the
   tongue, distinguishing between front vowels (as in 'head'), back
   vowels (as in 'hoard'), closed vowels (as in 'hoot') and open
   vowels (as in 'heart'). A map of these dimensions is often
   referred to as the vowel diagram, and is well illustrated with
   respect to several dialects in Mannell: Vowels. The most important
   of the minor dimensions is the extent to which the lips are rounded
   (roundedness), another is the extent to which air passes through
   the nose as well as the mouth (nasalisation) and there are more
   besides. The continuous nature of the major dimensions is very
   important - which is why the vowel diagram exists as a standard
   illustration - while the continuous nature of the minor dimensions
   is less important, and they are conventionally described in
   either/or terms (the lips are either rounded or not; the vowel is
   either nasalised or not).

   The low-level (acoustic) dimensions of vowels are defined by
   formant frequencies, which are the frequencies in the acoustic
   spectrum of the sound that are amplified by a particular
   configuration of the mputh and throat (Catford 2001). Formants
   are numbered in ascending order of frequency, each one being a
   continuous-valued dimension. For example the first formant of an
   'ee'-like sound is around 250 Hz, while that of an 'ah'-like sound
   is around 750 Hz. Likewise the second formants are around 2300 and
   1400 Hz respectively. The number of formants that must be recorded
   depends depends upon the range of contrasts that may affect the
   vowel, for example all else being equal the primary dimensions of a
   vowel can be described using only the first two formants but if lip
   rounding etc are not constant then two formants are insufficient.

   3.1.3  Temporal Dimensions

   The dimensions discussed above are defined in abstract articulatory
   or acoustic spaces. The temporal dimension is also important, as it
   allows us to capture information about the length for which a phone
   is sustained, the way that its articulation is influenced by its
   neighbours, and the frequency at which different phones appear
   together. The importance of such informaiton is well established
   and studied. For one thing, languages make direct use of it. The
   words 'hut' and 'heart', for example, are distinguised only by the
   duration of the 'ah' sound. Diphthongs and affricates are examples
   where neighbouring phones are best understood as a unit - in the
   'eye' diphthong an 'ah' sound glides toweards an 'ee' sound,, and
   in the 'ch' affricate a 't' sound gives way to a 'sh' sound
   (Catford 2001). For another thing, people have a tendency to modify
   a sound in order to assist the flow of the word, for example the
   'h' in 'huge' is objectively much closer to the 'ch' in German
   'ich' than the 'h' in 'hunt'. The related phenomenon of
   assimilation means that neighbouring phones often acquire the same
   point of articulation, for example if there was a word 'sumda' then
   it would quite likely mutate to 'sunda' or 'sumba' (and the word
   'import' is derived from Latin 'in' + 'port'). For these reasons
   the fact that phonetic data exists in a spatiotemporal context is
   certainly important.

   3.2  Phonology

   A phone is a sound in language viewed from a low-level perspective,
   while a phoneme is a sound viewed from a higher-level perspective.
   The mechanics of spoken languages are not concerned with details of
   articulation, but only with the fact that units of sound can be put
   together to make words (Catford 2001). For example the difference
   between the 'h' in 'huge' and 'hunt' was mentioned above, yet from
   the point of view of how English works they are nevertheless the
   same unit. For this reason, the articulations of 'h' are said to be
   different /allphones/ of the same /phoneme/. Similarly the distinct
   'oo' sounds in 'food' and 'fool' are allophones of another phoneme,
   the latter being modified by the following 'l'. It should be
   apparent that the 'ah' sounds in 'heart' and 'hut' are distinct
   phonemes, whereas the 'oo' sounds in 'feud' and 'refute' are the
   same phoneme, because English doesn't care that one is longer than
   the other in that case (vowels are typically shortened in English
   when followed by an unvoiced consnant). Diphthongs and affricates
   etc are single phonemes, because they are single units in language.

   3.3.  Sound Change

   It is well established that the dominant pronunciation of words
   changes over time, and that this process eventually leads to new
   dialects and even languages. A driving force behind this process is
   the tendency people have to imitate the speech of people who are
   socially important to them (peers and role models). Children
   consistently adapt the accent of their peers and not the accent of
   their parents. This process explains why pronunciation changes are
   sometimes detectable from one generation to the next.

   Sound change and similar processes lead eventually to language
   diversion, for example Italian and Spanish are both descendents of
   Latin with many similarities remaining in their phonology,
   vocabulary and grammar. Whether data mining can be used to form
   hypotheses about which languages are related to which will be
   discussed later.

   3.4  Size and Resolution of Phonetic Databases



J. C. Catford: /A Practical Introduction to Phonetics: Second Edition
(2001). Oxford University Press.

R. Mannell: /The Vowels of Australian English and Other English
Dialects/. Website:
ausenglish/auseng_vowels.html (part of linguistics website at
Macquarie University). Accessed 2003.

P. B. de Mareuil, C. Corredor-Ardoy & M. Adda-Decker: /Multi-Lingual
Automated Phoneme Clustering/ (1999). ICPh599 San Francisco.

     Search Internet for title to find this third reference.