Lingthusiasm - A podcast that's enthusiastic about linguistics

64: Making speech visible with spectrograms

von Lingthusiasm - A podcast that's enthusiastic about linguistics | Vom 2022-01-20

If you hear someone saying /sss/ and /fff/, it’s hard to hear those as anything other than, well, S and F. This is very convenient for understanding language, but it’s less convenient for analyzing it -- if you’re trying to figure out exactly what makes two s-like sounds different, it would be helpful if you could kinda sorta turn the language processing part of your brain off for a sec and just process them as sounds. In this episode, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch get enthusiastic about linguistic visualizations that let us examine sounds in more detail. One kind of visual is a wave form (which is found in many podcast apps!) and consists of longer lines for louder parts and shorter lines for quieter parts. Another kind of visual is a spectrogram, which shows a massive range of possible pitches and shades in which pitches have stuff going on during them at each time, sort of like a giant musical staff with thousands of potential notes. Spectrograms are especially popular in linguistics (there are even spectrogram reading competitions at conferences sometimes), although they’re also used for things like recording bird calls and making weird music videos, and there’s much-beloved free program called Praat which has been used to make them for over 30 years. If you don’t want to download a program, there are also free websites which let you speak into a live running spectrogram and see what it looks like, and we’ve produced a sample for you! We’ve created a dedicated video clip of the five minutes we spent using the real-time spectrogram maker, which you can watch here: Thanks to for the handy real-time spectrogram maker, and go check it out yourself if you want to see what you sound like making various sounds. Announcements: LingComm Grants are back in 2022! These are small grants to help kickstart new projects to communicate linguistics to broader audiences. There will be a $500 Project Grant, and ten Startup Grants of $100 each. Apply here by March 31, 2022 or forward this page to anyone you think might be interested, and if you’d like to help us offer more grants, you can support Lingthusiasm on Patreon or contribute directly. We started these grants because a small amount of seed money would have made a huge difference to us when we were starting out, and we want to help there be more interesting linguistics communication in the world. If you want to help keep our ongoing lingthusiastic activities going, from the LingComm Grants to regular episodes to fun things like liveshows and Q&As, join us on Patreon! As a reward, you will get over 50 bonus episodes to listen to and access to our Discord server to chat with other language nerds. In this month's bonus episode we interview each other! We chat about what we were up to in 2021, what's coming in 2022, what we've been reading, our most mind blowing moments of linguistics undergrad, and more. Listen here! For links to everything mentioned in this episode: Transcript:

Om Podcasten

A podcast that's enthusiastic about linguistics by Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne. A weird and deep conversation about language delivered right to your ears the third Thursday of every month. "Joyously nerdy" –Buzzfeed. Listened to all the episodes here and wish there were more? Want to talk with other people who are enthusiastic about linguistics? Get bonus episodes and access to our Discord community at Shownotes and transcripts: