Public Linguistics Presentation Q

Mike Cahill mike_cahill at
Wed Jun 12 17:35:05 UTC 2013

Two possible phonetics demos that show people they're pronouncing things they didn't know about.

1) Aspiration - take a piece of paper, firmly press it to your forehead with a finger so most of it covers your face. Then say (vigorously) "pool". It will puff out, showing the aspirated P. Then say "spool." Not as much of a puff out. Hey, we pronounce <p> two ways! This works for most people. Best to have the [pu] word initially, since it will give more of a noticeable puff. 

2) English has nasalized vowels, like French! Well, sort of. Place your thumb and forefinger lightly against both your nostrils, and say "green." You'll notice a vibration - air is coming out your nose. Then do the same thing saying "greed." No vibration, no nasal vowel. 

Have fun with the demo. I'd like to hear what you end up doing. 

Mike Cahill

-----Original Message-----
From: funknet-bounces at [mailto:funknet-bounces at] On Behalf Of Daniel Hieber
Sent: Wednesday, June 12, 2013 11:51 AM
To: s.t. bischoff
Cc: Funknet
Subject: Re: [FUNKNET] Public Linguistics Presentation Q

I once pulled out my digital recorder at my parents' home, and recorded them saying their primary vowels, showed them the spectrograms, then quickly mapped their formants in a vowel space and showed them the resulting chart. It took all of maybe 20 minutes. I was surprised to find that they thought this was the coolest thing ever, and were extremely impressed. In particular, they liked that you could see the intonation contours on Praat, and see the difference between questions and declaratives. Also that you could see the difference between male and female pitch.

Anything where people get to analyze their own speech in some way seems like it would go over well. Perhaps polling the audience about dialectal differences.



On Wed, Jun 12, 2013 at 12:22 PM, s.t. bischoff < at>wrote:

> Hello all,
> I've been asked to participate in a program called "Lunch with a Scientist"
> at our local science center. The program organizer has provided me 
> with a request for a brief description of what I will be presenting:
> I.    *a brief description of what the day/program will entail.  For those
> professors new to the program, please remember that a hands-on 
> approach is what we’re trying for.  That could be an activity, or lots 
> of really cool
> props.*
> The presentation/activity will be about 60 minutes. I have some ideas, 
> but was curious if anyone had suggestions or might have actually done 
> something like this before. Participants will include folks from the 
> community, adults and children.
> Thanks in advance,
> Shannon


Omnis habet sua dona dies.
     ~ Martial

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