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LINGUIST List 17.218

Mon Jan 23 2006

Qs: Category Rating Survey; Measuring Vowel Duration

Editor for this issue: Jessica Boynton <jessicalinguistlist.org>

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        1.    Raluca Budiu, Category Rating Survey
        2.    Roy Becker, Measuring Vowel Duration from Spectrogramme

Message 1: Category Rating Survey
Date: 23-Jan-2006
From: Raluca Budiu <budiuparc.com>
Subject: Category Rating Survey

Hello, all,

We are conducting an investigation about how people navigate through web
pages (and similar hierarchic structures). We are especially interested in
finding out how the label of a link affects navigation choices.

We would be very grateful if you could spend a few minutes to fill in this
category rating survey. It's located at:


It should take at most 15 minutes.

We will not be recording any information about who you are, so your
response will be completely anonymous.

Thank you in advance for your help.

Raluca Budiu, Ph.D.
Palo Alto Research Center
User Interface Research Group

Linguistic Field(s): Cognitive Science

Message 2: Measuring Vowel Duration from Spectrogramme
Date: 22-Jan-2006
From: Roy Becker <roybeckerhumnet.ucla.edu>
Subject: Measuring Vowel Duration from Spectrogramme

Physical duration of segments is relevant for phoneticians and experimental
phonologists, among others, both as a stand-alone phenomenon and as a
correlate of other speech phenomena (speech-rate, accent, articulator
trajectory etc.) as well as linguistic phenomena (intrinsic phoneme
property, realization of morae, compensatory lengthening, phrasing etc.)
Hence, measuring duration of segments using waveform and spectrogramme is a
common practice among phoneticians and experimental phonologists working on
field- or lab-collected corpora. It is well-known, however, that measuring
segmental duration is not always straightforward, mostly due to gestural

In particular, measuring duration of vowels by determining the temporal
boundaries with adjacent segments poses certain methodological problems,
for example:

1. Voiceless stops and fricatives can be pre-/post-aspirated.
2. Stop-release may include multiple bursts and/or slight frication.
3. Periods of articulator approximation without true contact, e.g. the
transition into/out-of voiced fricatives, when there is no frication but
voicelessness would have made a perfect fricative.
4. When the adjacent segment is an approximant, and any point across the
boundary into the approximant would have probably counted as part of the
vowel if it were part of a transition into/out-of a contact-involving
consonant. For example, the acoustics of a dorsal glide are no different
from the acoustics of the transition after the release of a homorganic
stop, and whatever counts as consonantal in the case of a glide would count
as vocalic in the case of a stop (e.g. palatal glide vs. palatal stop).
Similarly, in the case of a vocalized velarized lateral, whatever counts as
the consonant would have probably counted as part of the vowel if the
consonant weren't velarized.

All these, and many other situations, are sources for methodological
inconsistency in determining segmentation of vowels or any kind of sound.
While it is perfectly legitimate to use any methodology if it is designed
with common-sense, strictly obeyed and explicitly described, the absence of
standard may render related studies mutually incompatible, and may also
result in methodological slacking in the case of the less experienced

I would like to know if there is any written standard(s) for making such
measurements, and whether researchers adhere to this/these standard(s).
I am not interested in personal opinions or in methods practiced in a
particular stduy, because these can be found in any experiment report.

Roy Becker.

Linguistic Field(s): Phonetics

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