Your web-browser is very outdated, and as such, this website may not display properly. Please consider upgrading to a modern, faster and more secure browser. Click here to do so.

Wug Life

Oct 19 '14
(harsh sound, be warned!) - complex tone

What the heck is a spectrogram?

A spectrogram is a visual representation of a complex noise alone three axes. Typically, the x axis is time, the y axis is frequency, and the z axis (often represented by darkness or color) is intensity (loudness).

The way I’ll be describing it, a spectrogram is a topographical map of sound (height of the mountains is loudness), the further north/up you go on the map, the higher the frequency of the component, and the further east/right you go on the map, the later in time you are seeing.

Here is a graph from Praat (free linguistics software for sound analysis/manipulation):

image

The top half of the graph is the waveform and the bottom is the spectrogram. The top represents the change in air pressure over time, which we perceive as sound.

The bottom half is the spectrogram. There are four dark bands, and each represents a sine wave component of the waveform. This wave form is made from the following algorithm:

1/2 * sin(2*pi*377*x) + 1/2 * sin(2*pi*754*x) + 1/2 * sin(2*pi*1508*x) + 1/2 * sin(2*pi*3016*x)

This means there is a band of energy at 337 Hz (337 peaks of pressure per second), at 754 Hz, 1508 Hz, and 3016 Hz. These are the frequencies of the component waves. When you add these four waves together, you get a complex tone (which you can listen to above).

This is how to read a simple spectrogram. But really, what is it??

A spectrogram is a series of spectra, lined up in a row, seen from the “top”. Here is another way to represent a spectrogram [x]:

image

Here, the x axis (the one closest to the bottom edge) is time, the y axis (on the right) is frequency, and the z axis (looks like it’s coming off the page as “height”) is intensity. If we cut a REALLY THIN slice of this graph along the y axis, like we were slicing cheese, we’d get a line like this:

image

Here, the x axis is frequency and the y axis is intensity (loudness). Each peak is the intensity of a component frequency. In other words, each sine wave that is part of the complex tone has an independent loudness. In this graph, we can see what frequency it is by where its peak is. Again, those numbers are the ones from the algorithm.

So, a spectrogram is a bunch of these last graphs, all glued together side by side. And we look “down” at them, like a topographical map.

Now that I’ve said all this, here is a more typical spectrogram of speech (a very complex sound):

image

It’s a graph of me saying “this is speech”. The dark parts of the lower half are the loudest components and the light parts are silence (or quiet). You can see that the tallest parts of the waveform (the top half) correspond to the darkest part of the bottom.

So I’ll leave you with one final note on “voiced” versus “voiceless” sounds:

Voiced sounds are periodic, meaning they have a repeating waveform. Voiceless sounds are aperiodic, meaning their waveform has randomly varying peaks and troughs. The periodicity of the waveform isn’t necessarily visible in the spectrogram. It’s most easily seen in the waveform, however, it can sometimes look like vertical lines in the spectrogram, corresponding to the regularly-spaced peaks of the periodic waveform.

I know this is a quick-and-dirty rundown of spectrograms, but I figure it’s always good for a review. If any of my terminology is confusing or unfamiliar, send me an ask and I’ll clarify!

Hope your classes are going well, tumblinguists!

Oct 17 '14
allthingslinguistic:

Centre embedding: New speech disorder linguists contracted discovered!
A most troubling article from SpecGram. To assist in understanding the nature of this problem, I have taken the liberty of drawing a simplfied syntax tree of one of the most perplexing sentences: “linguists linguists linguists sent examined are highly contagious”. The non-pathological version would read something like: Linguists sent (other) linguists to examine the infected linguists. Unfortunately, the examining linguists were themselves also highly contagious. 
Centre embedding is an odd phenomenon that is fine with just one level (“new speech disorder linguists contracted discovered”) but gets really hard to understand as soon as you do more of it. So it’s not actually ungrammatical, but it’s really hard to hold a sentence with two or more levels of centre embedding in your memory. On the other hand, we can easily do many many levels of non-central embedding (“I said that Jill heard that Mary saw that Alice went to the store”). 
I used the free basic syntax tree generator phpSyntaxTree to create the diagram, and the input code is as follows: [S  [NP linguists [S [NP linguists [S [NP linguists] [VP sent]]] [VP examined ]]] [VP are highly contagious ]]. If you want to play around with it, see if you can figure out how to add Ns and Vs to the tops of all the nouns and verbs in the tree above. 

Oh my goodness, I love center embedding!
Two more things that are really cool:
Doubly-embedded sentences are typically almost impossible to understand, as mentioned above. But not always! And it varies (very slightly) between languages. In English, this is a REALLY HARD sentence:
(1) The students the teacher Alex knows taught went to the movies last week.
And it means:
(2) Alex knows the teacher taught the students who went to the movies last week.
But this sentence is somewhat okay:
(3) The students that the teacher I know taught went to the movies last week.
They have identical syntactic structure (as far as I’m concerned!) but one sounds better than the other. I won’t say it’s easy or even good, but there is definitely a clear benefit of using the pronoun “I” in (3). Why? Well, we don’t really know, but one suggestion is that pronouns (and specifically ones that refer to people who are present in the conversation, like “you” or “I”) are somehow semantically light, or otherwise less costly to store in our memory.
The other cool thing about center embedding is that in English (but not German), leaving out one of the three verbs in a doubly embedded sentence actually makes it sound better, even though it is then ungrammatical.
(4) The students (that) the teacher (that) Alex knows went to the movies last week.
This sentence actually doesn’t make sentence because it’s missing the verb “taught”. But somehow, English speakers tend to say it makes more sense. This could be because that clause sandwiched between the outer one and the inner one (the teacher … taught) is less salient or important to understanding the sentence as a whole. The students went to the movies, and I know someone, so who cares about the teacher and who that teacher taught?
In any case, center embedded sentences are AWESOME!! Let me know if you have any questions about them!

allthingslinguistic:

Centre embedding: New speech disorder linguists contracted discovered!

A most troubling article from SpecGram. To assist in understanding the nature of this problem, I have taken the liberty of drawing a simplfied syntax tree of one of the most perplexing sentences: “linguists linguists linguists sent examined are highly contagious”. The non-pathological version would read something like: Linguists sent (other) linguists to examine the infected linguists. Unfortunately, the examining linguists were themselves also highly contagious. 

Centre embedding is an odd phenomenon that is fine with just one level (“new speech disorder linguists contracted discovered”) but gets really hard to understand as soon as you do more of it. So it’s not actually ungrammatical, but it’s really hard to hold a sentence with two or more levels of centre embedding in your memory. On the other hand, we can easily do many many levels of non-central embedding (“I said that Jill heard that Mary saw that Alice went to the store”). 

I used the free basic syntax tree generator phpSyntaxTree to create the diagram, and the input code is as follows: [S  [NP linguists [S [NP linguists [S [NP linguists] [VP sent]]] [VP examined ]]] [VP are highly contagious ]]. If you want to play around with it, see if you can figure out how to add Ns and Vs to the tops of all the nouns and verbs in the tree above. 

Oh my goodness, I love center embedding!

Two more things that are really cool:

Doubly-embedded sentences are typically almost impossible to understand, as mentioned above. But not always! And it varies (very slightly) between languages. In English, this is a REALLY HARD sentence:

(1) The students the teacher Alex knows taught went to the movies last week.

And it means:

(2) Alex knows the teacher taught the students who went to the movies last week.

But this sentence is somewhat okay:

(3) The students that the teacher I know taught went to the movies last week.

They have identical syntactic structure (as far as I’m concerned!) but one sounds better than the other. I won’t say it’s easy or even good, but there is definitely a clear benefit of using the pronoun “I” in (3). Why? Well, we don’t really know, but one suggestion is that pronouns (and specifically ones that refer to people who are present in the conversation, like “you” or “I”) are somehow semantically light, or otherwise less costly to store in our memory.

The other cool thing about center embedding is that in English (but not German), leaving out one of the three verbs in a doubly embedded sentence actually makes it sound better, even though it is then ungrammatical.

(4) The students (that) the teacher (that) Alex knows went to the movies last week.

This sentence actually doesn’t make sentence because it’s missing the verb “taught”. But somehow, English speakers tend to say it makes more sense. This could be because that clause sandwiched between the outer one and the inner one (the teacher … taught) is less salient or important to understanding the sentence as a whole. The students went to the movies, and I know someone, so who cares about the teacher and who that teacher taught?

In any case, center embedded sentences are AWESOME!! Let me know if you have any questions about them!

Oct 17 '14
From: Grammaticalization – Theory and Data
I’d try to translate what all these technical terms mean, but.
Basically, language is so cool that it changes in ways that actually can be pretty similar across languages. And basically, sometimes when we end a sentence with “but” or “and” (or maybe, as I suggest “or”), we’re actually very specifically ending the sentence, even though these words typically indicate the middle of a conjunction. I only have access to the limited google books version, but if you’re interested in getting the whole story, it was published by John Benjamins Publishing this year. There are some other really cool looking chapters, too!

From: Grammaticalization – Theory and Data

I’d try to translate what all these technical terms mean, but.

Basically, language is so cool that it changes in ways that actually can be pretty similar across languages. And basically, sometimes when we end a sentence with “but” or “and” (or maybe, as I suggest “or”), we’re actually very specifically ending the sentence, even though these words typically indicate the middle of a conjunction. I only have access to the limited google books version, but if you’re interested in getting the whole story, it was published by John Benjamins Publishing this year. There are some other really cool looking chapters, too!

Sep 20 '14
Aug 27 '14
Aug 25 '14

Before we get to ergativity, unaccusitivity and other kinds of morphosyntactic funtimes…

superlinguo:

Thanks so much to All Things Linguistic for setting up the Crowdsourced Linguistics project. We tend to prattle on about things we know, or find interesting, so it’s great to get an idea of what some people find bamboozling or tricky about language!

I offered to help explain the collected jargon of ergative, accusative, unaccusative and unergative. I still remember sitting in undergraduate classes and trying to get my head around ergativity, so for anyone trying to puzzle it out, I feel your pain.

Each Wikipedia page (linked above) explains the relevant phenomenon with as much detail as you’d find in an undergrad linguistics text book, but to make sense of it you have to start thinking about sentences like a linguist. For example, this is really a very elegant summary:

image

But only if you understand what the A, S and O stand for, and what that actually means for real language. I’ve given a short intro before (in this post), but I thought I’d write a post that goes right, right back to basics. Hopefully by time you’ve read this, the information on the various Wikipedia pages will be more accessible. Strap yourselves in, it’s going to be a long post by Superlinguo standards!

Read More

Aug 21 '14

Anonymous asked:

This isn't a grammar question or anything, but could you do a master post on Spanish Internet slang? I feel like I'm trying to decipher Chinese when I read through some of my friends' spanish fb statuses haha it would be cool to have some sort of key to figure out all the random letters (like ñ?? Wtf does that stand for?)

spanishboone:

Here are some Spanish text slang that might make it bit easier for you to understand your friends’ slang on Facebook, texting, or wherever it may be. I’m sure there might be some differences in some places for the slang. Hope this list helps

  • x - por
  • k - qué/que
  • q - qué/que
  • xq - por qué/porque
  • xk - por qué/porque
  • xfa- por favor
  • pf - por favor
  • bn/b - bien
  • 100pre- siempre
  • xo - pero
  • cdo - cuando
  • bb - bebé
  • pa - para
  • pa’l… - para el…
  • d - de
  • l - el
  • tk - te quiero
  • tkm - te quiero mucho
  • t - te
  • c -  sé/se
  • toy/stoy - estoy
  • tá/stá - está
  • tás/stás - estás
  • tb - tambien
  • dps - después
  • ktl/qtl - qué tal
  • cm -como
  • km - como
  • msj - mensaje
  • ad+ - además
  • asias - gracias
  • n - en
  • mña - mañana
  • a2 - adiós

Verbs/words that start with “h”, can drop the “h” for quicker writing like “hacer” and “haber”. Verbs with “e” can drop the “e” for quicker writing like in “estar” and “esperar”. Whenever a word contains a “qu”, it can be changed to a “k” like “te kiero” (Te quiero).

Hope this has helped a bit. Anyone else have anything they could contribute?

Aug 18 '14
Aug 10 '14
Aug 9 '14