Monday, September 10, 2007

Fun With Phonetics

We're working on narrow transcription of English in my phonetics class this week, so I spent most of my weekend sitting at my computer listening to sound files of various American English dialects. By my iTunes's count, I have listened to the sentence "she had your dark suit in greasy wash water all year" precisely 1,023 times in the last two days. (My "Top 25 Most Played" playlist is now no longer entirely Okkervil River.) That, of course, is not counting all the times I listened to the sound files in programs like Praat or WaveSurfer, or all the times I listened to them on my classmate's computer, or all the times I simply listened to snippets, focusing closely on "had your," "had your," "had your."

I think I'm losing it. As I tried to listen in church today, my mind ran a constant loop of
wɑʃ wɑɾə˞
wɑʃ wɑɾə˞

wɑʃ wɑɾə˞
wɑʃ wɑɾə˞
wɑʃ wɑɾə˞
WASH WATER

and so of course I listened in sacrament meeting even less than usual, because while the speaker was telling us what she learned from her nephew's baptism, I was thinking, did Speaker 8 really articulate the "r" in water? And was there some rhotaciziation in "wash" for Speaker 3? And why on earth would someone put any kind of suit, dark or light, in greasy wash water for an entire year?

And now it's nearly 2 am and I'm still thinking, exploded or unexploded? Stressed or unstressed? The answer, at this time of night, is clearly "stressed," and, in a few minutes, "exploded." I think it's time for bed.

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