Computer-based phonetic labelling

The practical training in this activity uses the Wasp program. The objective of the activity is to learn to attach phonetic symbols to segments of a recording of speech. Attaching phonetic symbols in this way is called annotation. The symbols used are SAMPA, so you need to have studied these symbols before starting the activity.

Start up the Wasp program and open the [apa] file, as described in the Acoustic Phonetics activity section. In order to carry out annotation, you need to click on the An button. When you do this, nothing seems to happen. Now place the cursors at the beginning and end of a segment (in the present case, this should be the first [a] vowel). Each time you want to type an annotation symbol, you first type the letter a . When you have done this you will see that the symbol window at the bottom of the screen starts showing the prompt =>. Now type your SAMPA symbol. The most appropriate here would be capital A (representing the English vowel in 'half'). Press the Return key and you should see the A symbol appear at the bottom next to the left cursor. Now locate the cursors at the start and end of the middle portion of the recording corresponding to [p]. Type a to indicate an annotation symbol, then letter p followed by return. This symbol, too, should appear in the bottom window. Finally, label the last vowel with another A symbol. Your annotation is now complete.

When you have finished the labelling, you can save your work by selecting Save As on the File menu. Your labels will be saved along with the acoustic signal, and in this way you can build up a collection of labelled recordings for research purposes. You can also print your annotated material to give to your course tutor for checking.

If you learn to work with the S.I.L. Speech Analyzer (described in the Free Speech Software section of the PHON2 Home Page), you will find that you can label (annotate) a file using proper I.P.A. Symbols. It's a rather complicated procedure, but it works on the basis of selecting symbols by clicking on an IPA consonant chart or a Cardinal Vowel diagram.

If you want to know how annotations of this kind are used in speech technology, read the relevant bit of the Introduction material for Speech Technology.