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Sounds of the World

These are some resources for phonetics students who want to know what languages have certain sounds, how these sounds are produced, and where in the world the languages are spoken.

  • World Atlas of Linguistic Structures: this is a resource on linguistic typology–classification of languages according to various characteristics. There is a page listing features of interest, and the atlas can be searched for specific language names, as well. Here is the page on the velar nasal, for example:

As with any typological resource, it is a good starting point, but you should always look at primary sources for further research.

  • The UCLA Phonetics Vowels and Consonants page: A classic resource that goes with Peter Ladefoged’s books A Course in Phonetics and Vowels and Consonants. For many languages, there are audio files of minimal pairs illustrating unusual contrasts. The audio was often recorded in the field so the quality is sometimes fuzzy. A newer version of the same materials can be accessed on Keith Johnson’s website.
  • International Dialects of English Archive: this has recordings of English speakers reading the same two texts. For American dialects, there are multiple speakers from each state, and their age and some other demographic information is given:

screenshot of dialect archive page

  • Articulatory IPA: A great collection of short MRI, ultrasound, and schematic videos illustrating various sounds.

  • Illustrations of the IPA: From the Cambridge University Press Journal of the International Phonetics Association, a series of articles that do sketches of individual languages’ sound systems. Search the journal contents by language name or sound type. Many of the articles are open source, and they come with audio files of high quality that go with the transcriptions in the book. To see the audio files for an article, click on its “Supplementary Materials” tab.
  • UPSID: the UCLA Phonological Segment Inventory Database. This is one of the older databases, with just 451 languages, but it is supposed to be balanced geographically and genetically (that is, related languages are not overrepresented). It’s a good starting point for researching the typology of sound inventories.

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PhoNE workshops

PhoNE (Phonology in the NorthEast) is the current incarnation of a series of annual workshops, mostly on phonology, which have been meeting on the East Coast for over two decades.

Historically, the names were acronyms based on the participating schools:

RUMMIT was the Rutgers-UMass-MIT phase of the meeting. This name was used from 2009 until 2014 or so.
UMMM was the UMass-MIT Meeting on phonology, a.k.a. MUMM. These names were used 2008-9.
HUMDRUM stood for “Hopkins, U of Maryland, Rutgers, Umass”. This name was used in 2000-2009.
RUMJCLaM was the “Rutgers-UMass Joint Class Meeting”. Before that, RUMD. These names were used in the 1990’s.

Here are the locations and dates of previous meetings. Corrections are welcome, and thanks to Juliet Stanton for help in tracking these down!

2020: NYU
2019: Yale, April 13
2018: MIT, March 31
2017: UMass, April 8
2016: NYU, April 9
2015: Yale, April 2
2014: MIT, April 26
2013: UMass, April 6
2011: Rutgers, May 16
2010: MIT, December 4
2009: UMass, November 1
2009: MIT, May 9
2008: UMass, November 22
2008: MIT, March 29
2008: Rutgers, April 26
2006: Hopkins
2006: MIT
2005: UMass
2004: Rutgers
2002: UMass
2001: Hopkins
2000: Rutgers
1999: Rutgers
1998: UMass (RUMJClaM)
1997: MIT (as Bay and Berkshires Phonology)

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Features in phonology

This is a 30-page overview of phonological features, which I wrote for the phonology classes I teach at NYU. It is intended to be accessible to both undergraduates and graduates; I usually ask the undergrads to read sections 1-4 and 9, and the grads to read the whole thing. If you would like to cite this review in your work, refer to it as follows:

Gouskova, Maria. 2016. Features in Phonology. [pdf] Ms., New York University.

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