Listening Assignment

Preparation stage

Before you start, make sure you have downloaded and familiarized yourselves with the Praat software (see Working in Praat).

You will receive your recording (.wav files) by email within three weeks from the recording session. It will be cut into smaller pieces (paragraphs) that can be handled more conveniently, and TextGrids (.TextGrid files) will be sent along with these. You can open the sounds and TGs in Praat.

Please do not make any changes to the sound files – you only open them, never save them. You will only be changing, saving and sending to us the TGs. Do not rename any of the files (specifically, do not add things like „final“, „evaluated“ or anything to the file name or extension).

The automatic aligner which marks the boundaries of words and segments is not perfect. It may occasionally make mistakes which must be corrected manually. Therefore, before doing any other work, go through all files and see whether there are any “problems”.

  • long pause: just insert a new boundary, thus creating an empty interval, and shift the relevant boundaries accordingly. You can do the same thing with yourhesitations or any other interruptions of the flow of speech.
  • unknown word: if the algorithm encounters an unknown word (e.g. an uncommon name), it skips it and writes all subsequent text in capital letters. Please add the missing word(s), replace any text in capitals with small type, and shift word boundaries if needed.

In addition, the aligner may produce curious (and faulty) transcriptions of some words, e.g. the word years transcribed as /jəz/, the word of as /ʌv/, or the as /ðʌ/. You can ignore these 🙂

Analysis (winter semester)

Once you’ve prepared all the sounds and TGs, you can start working on the analysis. First, create a new point tier which will be called “evaluation”. To do this, click on TierAdd point tier… in the Editor window. In the dialogue window which pops up, enter “2” forPosition, and “evaluation” for Name. That’s it. Repeat for each TG. Don’t forget to save the modified TGs.

You will be evaluating three kinds of speech sounds:

  • The vowels which correspond to /e æ ɒ ə/ in Standard British English. Please be aware that the automatic aligner “speaks” American English. You will therefore have to change some vowels to their British values, especially /ɒ/ which is usually /ɑː/ in AmE (e.g., soft).
    You will evaluate your vowels in paragraphs 2 and 4.
  • The dental fricatives /θ ð/ and the velar nasal /ŋ/.
    You will evaluate these consonants in paragraphs 3 and 6.
  • Fortis plosives /p t k/, regarding their aspiration.
    You will evaluate aspiration in paragraph 2.

For each evaluated sound, insert a point into the evaluation tier by clicking into the little circle at the top of the tier (or as described on the Working in Praat page). Then specify your evaluation in the newly created point.

The vowels and the three consonants will be evaluated on the following scale:

  • “2” = native-like realization of the target sound. The standard against which you compare your pronunciation is Standard British English. If your pronunciation of the given sound is native-like American, enter “2 Am” instead of “2”.
  • “0” = target sound pronounced with a strong Czech accent (or your native accent).
  • “1” = target sound pronounced in a manner which is intermediate between native and strong non-native accent (e.g., pronouncing /ð/ as a dental plosive [d̪] or /æ/ as [ɛ]).

You will handle aspiration differently. Instead of evaluating the correctness of your pronunciation, you simply mark the presence or absence of aspiration in your pronunciation (“Y” equals presence, “N” equals absence of aspiration in the given sound).

An example sound and TG can be downloaded here (all phenomena are marked in the initial portion of this file).

The course of work is up to you, but we strongly recommend that you follow the rough guidelines below, and/or our announcements in classes.

NOTE: If you pronounce a completely different sound, don’t evaluate it! Especially in altered or otherwise modified words.

Listening assignment guideline (winter semester):
Week 4: do the preparation stage (see above)
Week 5: start evaluating your /e/ and /æ/ vowels
Week 6: start evaluating the other two vowels; all vowels are checked in the first Progress Check
Week 8: start marking aspiration
Week 9: evaluate your dental fricatives
Week 10: evaluate your velar nasal sound

Analysis (summer semester)

You will work with the same recordings and TextGrids. You will need to create new point tiers, one for linking analysis (as the first tier), two for word stress analysis (between the phone and word tiers). To do this, click on TierAdd point tier… in the Editor window.

You will be evaluating two connected-speech phenomena:

  • linking – in the Linking tier, add a point between the word-final sound and word-initial vowel, wherever linking is possible, and enter ? for a glottal stop (no linking),res for pseudo-resyllabification, r for linking r, j for transient j and w for transient w.
    You will analyze the way you linked in all paragraphs (2, 3, 4 and 6).
  • stresses – one of the point tiers will be called Stress RP, the other Stress me. You will focus only on words which have two or more syllables. For each word, insert a point into the vowel which should be stressed (in the Stress RP tier) and into the vowel which you stressed in the recording (in the Stress me tier). In other words, if you stressed correctly, the points on the two tiers will overlap.
    You will analyze your stresses in paragraphs 2 and 4.

In files 2 and 4, do both analyses – linking and stress – into the same TG.

See an example sound and TG here to make sure you’re doing the task correctly.