Phon2: Phonetics Beyond the Basics

Technical pre-requisites

In an ideal world, it would be possible to work on PHON2 using any networked computer. Unfortunately, many of the materials and activities included in PHON2 will not work on all machines, and it is necessary to ensure that your machine is correctly set up. If you do not have the necessary technical knowledge, you will have to ask for help. Unfortunately, PHON2 cannot tell you everything you need to know about setting up your computer.

The first thing to make clear is that PHON2 is designed for use on a PC running Microsoft Windows, and we have not been able to produce a version for use by Macintosh users, or for users of other operating systems such as Linux.

Secondly, your computer should have a sound card that will allow you to listen to sound files and to record sounds on to the computer.

Thirdly, you will need to have phonetic symbols installed in your Fonts directory. Unfortunately, there are several of these, and since we use internet material produced by many different writers we are not able to standardize the font used. Much of our material uses Lucida Sans Unicode. The advantage of this is that most PC's sold in the last few years already have this very large collection of symbols and you do not need to install them. However, there seems now to be some doubt about whether this will continue to be distributed free. Alternatively, many people use the excellent set of IPA phonetic fonts devised by the Summer Institute of Linguistics (S.I.L.), who kindly make these available free of charge to anyone who wants them. To go to the site for downloading these, click here. You will want to look at their software list, and select the IPA phonetic fonts listed there. Finally, there is another set of IPA fonts available from University College London (U.C.L.). To find these, click here. You should be aware of the SAMPA conventions for doing transcription using normal keyboard characters. This is discussed in the "Symbols and Spelling" section of PHON2, but you can go directly to the SAMPA site if you click here.

If you install all of the above on your computer, then all of the phonetically-transcribed material that is in PHON2 should appear successfully on your screen. The UCL fonts have the added advantage that the symbols are linked to particular keys on the keyboard, making typing in phonetic symbols easy when using Microsoft Word. In the case of Lucida Sans Unicode and the S.I.L. fonts, if you want to type in phonetic symbols you must either use the "Insert Symbol" feature of Word, or spend some time using the "shortcut key" feature to set up your keyboard so that a particular combination of key-presses produces a particular symbol.

You should also have Cyrillic fonts installed so that examples and text in Bulgarian can be read. Most computers already have a Cyrillic font installed, but this is something that you should check.

Finally, many of the activities accessed by the A button require you to use a program to analyze sound files. All the sound files we work with are in .wav format. Microsoft Windows provides you with software for recording and playing sounds, but not for analyzing them. To find out about the programs available, you should return to the PHON2 Home Page and read the section on Free Speech Analysis Software. Of the programs available, we will base our acoustic analysis activities on the simplest, which is called WASP. However, if you can learn to use some of the other programs, you will find that you can sometimes get better results. Whichever program you use, it will be necessary to download it and install it on your computer. If you are using a computer that belongs to a university or other organization, you should bear in mind that many computer managers do not like users to install software themselves. If this might apply to you, you are advised to get permission before installing a speech signal analysis program.