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Wug Life

Aug 18 '14
Aug 10 '14
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Jul 28 '14
Jul 27 '14
Jul 20 '14


Maori pronunciation! Here are a few words that I hope will help you guys understand what I am trying to say, unfortunately writing it out is never quite as good as hearing the real thing!

Wow, my accent has changed o.O

So this is an EXCELLENT time to talk about how IPA is a tool, but not a fact.

The IPA for the word “Maori” is usually written [mɑ:ɔri], which would often be pronounced by American speakers as “mah-oree” or “maow-ree”. As flatbear mentioned in a slightly earlier post, those pronunciations aren’t accurate! (And she knows, she is Maori!) But isn’t that what the IPA basically says?

The way I would write flatbear’s pronunciation of Maori in IPA is [mɔ:ʊ.ri]. Similar, but definitely not the same. Am I wrong? Are the other ways of transcribing it wrong? No. They aren’t wrong. Since everyone has a slightly different experience with language and speech sounds, we all have slightly different perceptions of speech sounds. The category I would call [ɔ] overlaps with, but is not identical to, the category other people would call [ɑ]. This means I will make mistakes in pronunciation when I read other people’s transcriptions, if our categories don’t line up.

What can you take away from this? Speech sound perception is gradient, and everyone hears things slightly differently. A more extreme example is when L1 Japanese speakers have a hard time hearing and pronouncing the difference between [l] and [ɹ] in English, or when English speakers have a hard time hearing and pronouncing the difference between ه [h] ح [ħ] in Arabic.

Whenever you see someone else’s transcriptions, beware! Just because they have written speech sounds down in IPA doesn’t mean that those sounds are exactly the ones you would write down. Transcription is a very subjective activity.

Jul 17 '14

Anonymous asked:

I would love to know more about your thesis! It sounds really interesting :D

Aww, thanks!

My undergrad thesis was called The effect of linguistic environment on vowels sung at high pitches. I was interested in whether there was a solution for the physical and acoustic limitations of speech at high pitches. Here’s a little background.

When we say vowels, the first thing we do is get air flowing from our lungs. This vibrates the vocal folds and produces a weird buzzing sound. The reason we don’t hear it is as a buzzing sound, but rather as a vowel or other speech sound, is because the buzz is shaped by the vocal tract (the throat, mouth, tongue, lips, and nose). This is pretty much the way brass instruments work, too. You blow a raspberry into the mouthpiece, more or less, and the size and shape of the tube determines the instruments unique sound.


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Jul 14 '14


We received the above submission from t-o-t-o-r-i-a that really made us laugh and inspired us to hold the first ever LAH contest!!

Your challenge is to create the funniest combination of LAH cards.  Take a look through our archive — pick one black card, and then choose the appropriate number of white cards to answer the question or fill in the blanks, just like you’re playing CAH.

To enter, visit our submit page (NOT our ask page) and complete the form as follows:

  1. The words “contest submission” in the title section of the form
  2. YOU MUST BE LOGGED INTO TUMBLR TO ENTER.  Submissions are limited to ONE per person.  This way, we can keep track of usernames/url’s.  We won’t accept your submission if you’re not logged in.
  3. A real working e-mail address so we can contact you if you win (we won’t publish or share it, we promise)
  4. The full text of your chosen black card (e.g., “All linguistics students should learn about ______.”)
  5. The full text of your chosen white card(s).  If your submission involves more than one white card, please put the text of each on separate lines just to help us out.

We will accept submissions starting…. NOW!  Keep ‘em coming until midnight ET on Friday, July 18.  (Seriously, we won’t accept them after that.)  We’ll turn them into images, and post them on the morning of Saturday, July 19.  Voting will run through midnight ET on Tuesday, July 22.  Whichever submission receives the most notes will win!

PRIZES!  Nothing too exciting, since we’re just three broke college kids who run a Tumblr, but here’s what we’ve got:

  • Third prize: we’ll post a link to a (non-political, non-religious) nonprofit/charity of your choice
  • Second prize: third prize PLUS a T-shirt featuring an LAH card of your choice
  • First prize: third prize PLUS second prize PLUS the Chinese edition of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire signed by the three of us because we like to think we’re celebrities

Good luck!  Can’t wait to see what you guys come up with!

With love,

The LAH Team

Jul 13 '14
Jul 12 '14

Anonymous asked:

Hey! So I know this isn't an easy question to answer w/o knowing specifics, but what do you think about a high school student w/ an interesting ling going to the Linguistitute? Good idea? Bad idea? Better things to do w/ the future in mind? I know minors aren't allowed into CoLang, but I've heard they can go to the Linguistitute, so idk.

Unfortunately, I don’t know whether the LSA Institute allows minors to attend. It is definitely open to undergrads. Checking previous Institutes’ websites, they don’t explicitly state high school aged students may (or may not) attend. They do say undergrads, grads, and anyone engaged in the academic community.

However, I know that there are many summer schools for high school students at which you can take linguistics courses. (That’s actually the type of place where I took my first linguistics course!)

Here are some programs that are designed specifically for pre-college students:

So do any of you have a definitive answer on what the LSA Institute’s policy on pre-college (or minor) attendees is?