Acoustic Analysis

In this section you can learn a little about acoustic phonetics. Below you see two of the main tools of acoustic phonetics, a speechwave (green), and a spectrogram (black). Click on the image, or the Play button, to hear the words represented by this particular speechwave and spectrogram. Listen as often as you like, and try to get a feel for how these tools give us a visual display of speech.

Notice the close relationship between the speechwave and the spectrogram: they both show the same information about speech sounds – but represented in different ways, useful for different purposes.


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See how much you can discover yourself about the characteristics of various sounds before clicking the Next button to learn more about speechwaves and spectrograms. Which parts of the spectrogram do you think might be vowels? What does a fricative look like?
Remember to think about the words as phonemes, and not as letters. Grab a pen and paper and try a phonemic transcription, if you can. Click the button for help with the transcription.