November 15, 2004

Another quiz!

This quiz business came in over the transom, as the saying goes, with an email from Stefano Taschini that resulted in the first Language Log "guess the language" challenge (answer here). A couple of weeks later, I made up another one myself (answer here). Both quizzes were surprisingly popular, perhaps tapping the psychic wellsprings that make "examination" one of the four universal dreams.

I had in mind to do continue the series about once a month, but yesterday the indefatigable Stefano sent in another audio sample. So I'll put it out there, but this time, I'm not going to post the answer for a week or so. This is delay is mainly for me -- I won't have time to make my own analysis and guess for several days, at best!

There are three mp3 clips, here, here and here.

[P.S. the other three universal dreams, I learned last night from Salman Akhktar, are falling, flying, and having your teeth fall out.]

[Note that these sound clips are significantly harder than the earlier ones, due to rapid speech and poor SNR. That's what speech is like, out there in the real world, but it's tough to transcribe such material in a language you don't know. I'll see if I can get a sample with higher sound quality (i.e. an easier sample) and post it later on.]

[Update #2: more clips are not available, but Stefano suggests using the "Amazing Slow Downer" (non-free software) or something similar to overcome the problem of rapid speech -- though of course rapid speech slowed down is by no means the same as slower speech, it's still cognitively less taxing to attend to phonetically. Slowed-down versions of the three clips are available here, here, here.

As before, you may find it helpful to use the free software programs audacity, wavesurfer, and/or praat for careful listening, format modification (including speed changes), transcription, analysis of various sorts, and so on.]

Posted by Mark Liberman at November 15, 2004 10:48 AM