in touch with real speech
In touch with real speech

Reasons to use AudioNotetaker no. 3

Giving audio equal status

AudioNotetaker enables us to model ways in which we can give audio extracts equal status with academic commentary and transcript. This is important because, strange though it may seem – much of the study of the phonology and phonetics of language takes place in the graphic medium, with the audio evidence relegated to secondary status. The reason for this state of affairs is historical. The language professions from necessity have a history (dating back before the era of easy access to recordings) of rendering sounds into the graphic forms of phonemic and phonetic symbols. And for spontaneous speech enthusiasts such as myself, this has been a problem.

Since the mid 1980s I have immersed myself in recordings of spontaneous speech and a standard ‘move’ when I give conference presentations is to state ‘This is what phoneticians tell us – but listen to this’ and then I play a sound file which contains contradictory evidence. This was successful in presentations where I could easily play sounds. However, this move (‘… but listen to this’) did not work – indeed could not work – when it came to publishing papers in academic journals.

AudioNotetaker enables us to model ways of presenting academic commentary, transcription, and audio chunks side-by-side so that the audio is staring the reader in the face. Here’s an example using a recording and commentary from Collins and Mees.

In the image below, you can see the four panes of AudioNotetaker focussing on another aspect of the Birmingham accent:

  • the image pane shows a slide imported into AudioNotetaker from a powerpoint slide
  • the first text pane contains the academic commentary
  • the second text pane contains the transcript with the relevant word highlighted in red
  • the audio pane shows the audio chunks with the relevant chunk for ‘anything’ highlighted in red.


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And another great thing about having the audio alongside both commentary and transcription is that the academic author’s assertions about the recording can be evaluated by the reader/listener. In this case, the word ‘anything’ does not occur with an extra ‘ɡ’ |eniθɪŋɡ| but with an extra ‘k’ |eniθɪŋk|.

Richard can be contacted at

Tel: 07790 629859