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"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more

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Collaboration on an Art Project in Boston

Date Submitted: 23-Oct-2009
From: Julie Chen
Subject: Collaboration on an Art Project in Boston
Contact Email: click here to access email
Institution/Organization: Massachusetts College of Art and Design

Notice: I am an artist with an interest in infographics. I have a graphics and sound project called "CommonSpeech" which takes simple vocabulary pairs in different languages and compares how they sound in search of commonalities. For example, please see my comparison between "mom" and "dad" at this website: http://www.flickr.com/photos/julie_chen/sets/72157622517858424/.

My project website is http://juliechen.net/commonspeech which has more details. The comparison components consist of:
Component I: phonetic transcription (IPA) visual overlays
This would take transcriptions of the words in the International Phonetic Alphabet and overlay them to see where sounds coincide.
Component II: spectrogram visual overlays
This would take audio of the words being spoken, generate spectrograms of the sounds, and overlay them.
Component III: voice audio overlays
This would take the audio translations of all the languages and overlay them, to hear any coinciding sounds as a whole.

This project can only be as good as its data and I need a linguist who is willing to collaborate, verify, and bounce ideas around with. Experience with IPA transcription would be great. Eventually, I would like to see this project become an online interactive resource for students and the interested global public. This is a huge undertaking and any help I can get would be welcomed.

Thanks, Julie Chen