Required: A Course in Phonetics, 7th ed., by Peter Ladefoged and Keith Johnson
Please note that there are significant differences between editions of the Ladefoged & Johnson text, so use editions other than the seventh edition at your own risk.
Copies of the book is on 2-hour reserve at Odegaard Undergraduate Library.
Course Home Website
Online Meeting Room (Adobe Connect)
The course is offered online, so lectures and sections are broadcasted using Adobe Connect. You may participate remotely during class/section via this link. Seat preference for CompLing students. Sessions are recorded and posted on 'Modules' (left column) -> 'Class recordings' after class, so you can review them throughout the quarter.
Direct link to the meeting room: http://uweoconnect.extn.washington.edu/ling550b (Links to an external site.)
If you get an error message, try clearing your cache, then closing and restarting your browser.
For support contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or (206) 543-2350.
This course will introduce you to the linguistic study of speech sounds. It is critically important that you keep abreast of the required readings and assignments and do not miss class. Please do the assigned readings before coming to class. If you miss class, you are responsible for getting lecture notes from a classmate and watching recordings of the relevant lectures.
After completing this course, you should:
be familiar with the anatomy of the vocal tract and the terminology used to describe speech articulations
have a good working knowledge of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) and be able to use it to transcribe speech
have some experience hearing and producing the sounds of the world’s languages
understand basic acoustic theory as it relates to speech sounds
be able to use software to analyze speech sounds
grasp the ways in which speech sounds can vary, and be able to assess patterns in variation to perform basic phonological analysis.
Homeworks, quizzes, labs, transcriptions, and the final exam will all be taken online, using educational software called Moodle. The new Moodle system (Moodle 2) is linked to your UW Net ID. Activities can be done from any computer with a reliable internet connection, as long as (1) it has Apple QuickTime software, and (2) you have permission to install a new font on it (see details below in the Technology section).
Homeworks are typically short (5-15 questions, though a few are longer) and do not have a time limit: once you start, you can save your progress and return later to finish them (but be sure to click “submit answers” when you are satisfied with your work).
Transcription exercises are a way to train your ears to distinguish subtle variations in speech sounds and help you master the symbols of the IPA. When there is time during class, we will practice (ungraded) transcriptions together. The exercises on Moodle are graded credit/no credit. They require you to type phonetic symbols into the computer, so you need to use an online character picker or an IPA keyboard layout to do these exercises. Moodle will only give partial credit if your answer doesn't match the key exactly, but many variations are acceptable. You should compare your answers to the key to make sure you're not missing important distinctions. The exercises can be repeated, and each repetition has a new randomization of questions, so you may practice more than the initial set. You will get full credit for completing each exercise by the deadline, as long as you make a reasonable attempt. The instructor or TA will check your work and enter your score into the Catalyst grade book.
Quizzes are similar to homeworks, but each counts more toward your final grade. Quizzes are also timed, so once you begin work on a quiz, you will have a fixed amount of time to finish it (typically 15 minutes). Quizzes allow only one attempt and cannot be retaken.
All work must be competed by the beginning of class on the due dates to receive credit. You may redo Moodle Homeworks as many times as you want before they are due, and your highest score will be recorded. For Quizzes and Labs, only the score on your first attempt will be recorded. Assignments may be reopened later for students to use for review.
The final exam is split into two 1-hour sections that are just like quizzes (but longer). Both parts of the final must be completed during the final exam period, as indicated on the Calendar. They can be taken in any order, and you do not have to take them both on the same day.
Labs are designed to give you practical experience with the tools and methodologies of practicing phoneticians. This includes analyzing speech sounds using software tools and interpreting, explaining, and presenting your results. You are encouraged to work together on the lab exercises and talk to each other about your findings, but each student must submit individual work on Moodle. There will be 2-3 labs; more information will be available later in the course.
Projects involve research into the phonetic and phonological properties of a language that you are not familiar with. Each student will work on one language project, involving skills such as transcribing words, assembling phoneme charts, and comparing features to other languages, all gathered together in one final report. Further details on the project will be available later in the course.
Grades for Moodle-based assignments are available within Moodle. Projects will be turned in via the Catalyst Drop Box, and grades will appear in the Catalyst GradeBook. Moodle scores will be entered into the GradeBook periodically, but you can see your scores on individual assignments in Moodle). The final course grade is weighted as follows:
5% – Class participation and preparation (including daily readings)
10% – Transcription exercises (~weekly, credit/no credit, on Moodle)
15% – Homework assignments (~daily, on Moodle)
15% – Quizzes (3 total, on Moodle)
10% – Labs (2-3 total, on Moodle)
25% – Cumulative final exam (2 parts, on Moodle)
20% – Project (2-3 parts, turned in on Catalyst)
It is your responsibility to keep track of your score in the course. If you want to discuss your grade in person, please make an appointment. Because email can be unsecure, I will only discuss specific scores over email in reply to a question that includes specific scores (leaving the decision to trust your email up to you when you ask the question).
Your participation grade will be judged upon your participation in class and in online discussions if you are a regular student. If you are an online student, your participation will be judged on online discussions. Discussions must be contentful.
One way you can participate is to volunteer to come to the microphone and illustrate a language if you are a native or near native speaker of the language in question. You can also provide links in online discussions that illustrate a language or specific features seen in class.
As mentioned above, some of the Moodle-based assignments require Apple QuickTime software to play audio files within the web browser. If you are unable to listen to the audio files on your computer at home, you may need to use one of the campus computer labs to do some Moodle assignments, especially transcriptions. Please also note that Moodle does not always work well in the Safari browser, so I recommend Firefox, Chrome, or IE when using Moodle.
Because of the special alphabet used to transcribe speech sounds, linguists need special fonts in order to type and display transcriptions on a computer. Furthermore, font files are stored locally on individual computers (they are typically not embedded into documents) so there is no guarantee that a document created on one computer will look the same when viewed on another computer. The Unicode standard for fonts helps to address this problem. In this class, all students are required to download and install the (free) Unicode-compliant font set “Charis SIL” (available here: http://scripts.sil.org/CharisSIL_download). Many of the online homeworks and quizzes depend on this font to display the questions properly, so if you do not have it installed you may be unable to do the assignment. A “Font Support Quiz” in Moodle will help you test if the fonts are working properly on your machine. If you are unable or unwilling to install Charis SIL on your own computer, it is already installed on all computers in the computer labs in Odegaard, Suzzallo, and Allen Libraries, Mary Gates Hall, and the Language Learning Center (Denny Hall, room 108). For more information about these issues, see this helpful webpage: http://clas.mq.edu.au/phon_help/phonetic_fonts/index.html
One nice thing about the Charis SIL font is that it has a full set of bold, italic, and bold-italic characters, so you can use it to type your entire document, rather than switching back and forth every time you want to type in a phonetic transcription. Regardless, the easiest way to get transcriptions into your documents is to use an online character picker like this one (http://weston.ruter.net/projects/ipa-chart/view/keyboard/) or this one (http://rishida.net/scripts/pickers/ipa/). Alternatively, if you are using Microsoft Word, you can access the character picker via the “Insert > Symbol” menu (or “Insert > Special Character” in newer versions).
For similar font-related reasons, projects must be submitted in PDF format. If you are unable to create PDFs from your computer, I again refer you to one of the many campus computer labs; PDF creation ability is built into OpenOffice Writer, the latest version Microsoft Word, all Apple computers running OS X, and most versions of Linux.
Analysis of speech sounds will be performed using Praat (http://www.fon.hum.uva.nl/praat/) which is free and runs on just about every operating system that exists (download links are in the top left corner of the webpage). Praat is already installed on the LLC computers, and can be downloaded and run from the desktop of any other campus computer (or on your own computer). More information about Praat will be provided later in the course.
More on the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA)
The IPA is designed to uniquely symbolize all known human speech sounds. This makes it useful for transcribing speech regardless of the language being spoken, and also allows linguists to capture in writing the subtle variations within a language (commonly known as “accent” or regional dialect) that are not distinguished by the writing system in common use. There are a lot of symbols, many of which are identical to letters used to spell English, but they don’t always have the same sound associated with them. You may find it useful to make flashcards to help in your mastery of the IPA. More generally, this class will require you to forget about the way words are spelled, and pay attention instead to the sequence of sounds that actually come out of people’s mouths. This can be very challenging and the only way to improve is through practice, so you will be well-served to spend time pronouncing the speech sounds we learn about as well as transcribing the sounds you hear in others.
You are responsible for following the rules outlined in the UW Student Conduct Code (http://apps.leg.wa.gov/WAC/default.aspx?cite=478-120). In particular, plagiarism will not be tolerated. Here are some useful resources to help you avoid plagiarism:
If you have a disability and would like special accommodations, please bring me your paperwork from the UW Disability Services Office immediately, so I can work to accommodate your needs.
How to Succeed in This Class
Stay on top of the reading assignments, and if you don’t understand something, read it again. If you still don’t understand it, make a note of what you don’t understand and ask at our next class meeting. Pay attention to the homework and quiz schedule and don’t fall behind. Talk to me if you are struggling. You should also try to take advantage of office hours. Please talk to me as soon as possible if you have questions or problems, so that we can help you address the issues as soon as possible.