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Animal onomatopoeia: how accurate are they?

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Animal onomatopoeia: how accurate are they?

  1. 1. Animal Onomatopoeia How accurate are they? Fall 2011 Ling120 Intro to Speech Analysis Professor Jiahong Yuan Student Adrian Lin
  2. 2.   2     INTRODUCTION  ....................................................................................................................................................  3   METHOD  ..................................................................................................................................................................  4   RESULTS  ..................................................................................................................................................................  5   CHART  1.  ....................................................................................................................................................................  5   DOG  ............................................................................................................................................................................  6   ROOSTER  ....................................................................................................................................................................  7   DUCK  ..........................................................................................................................................................................  8   FROG  ..........................................................................................................................................................................  9   BEE  .............................................................................................................................................................................  9   CAT  ..........................................................................................................................................................................  10   COWS  .......................................................................................................................................................................  11   CONCLUSION  &  DISCUSSION  ..........................................................................................................................  11   REFERENCES  .......................................................................................................................................................  13   APPENDIX  ............................................................................................................................................................  14   A.1  DOG  ONOMATOPOEIA  MAP  .............................................................................................................................  14   A.2  PIG  ONOMATOPOEIA  MAP  ...............................................................................................................................  14   A.3  ROOSTER  ONOMATOPOEIA  MAP  .....................................................................................................................  15   A4.  FROG  ONOMATOPOEIA  MAP  ............................................................................................................................  15   A5.  CAT  ONOMATOPOEIA  MAP  ..............................................................................................................................  16  
  3. 3.   3   ABSTRACT: This study examines animal sounds and their onomatopoeic equivalents from a phonetic point of view that may shed light on the process of human perception of animal sounds as well as examining possible factors that affect perception. Data was gathered from video clips of animals and speakers producing their languages’ onomatopoeic words and analyzed on Praat. In addition, syntheses were created to see how closely the sounds could be reproduced based on vowel formants. I hypothesized that mammals sounds were most easily replicated by human languages and were similar cross-linguistically, but found that while two of the three cross- linguistically similar onomatopoeia were of mammals, other mammals showed various degrees of dissimilarity both cross-linguistically and with regards to the actual animal call. Because of the nature of the methodology and time constraints, this study remains inconclusive but sheds some light and raises questions on the role of physical relatedness and onomatopoeic sounds. INTRODUCTION   Each culture has onomatopoeia and a canonical way of representing animal sounds. Sometimes these sounds are similar as in cows going “moo” in English and “mo” in Japanese, while at other times they may differ radically such as roosters going “cock-a-doodle-doo” in English and “wowowo” in Mandarin. In this project, I intend to examine the variety of animal sounds and compare their onomatopoeic sounds cross-linguistically. Based on the formant analyses, I will also examine whether certain features or animal classes may have an effect on onomatopoeia matching actual animal sounds.
  4. 4.   4   METHOD   This project aims to analyze animal sounds and as well as their onomatopoeic counterparts in various languages to determine if any acoustic similarity is present and to investigate which factors may lead to similarities between animal utterances and onomatopoeia as well as onomatopoeia cross-linguistically. Animal sounds were selected based on perceived commonality and availability. Sites including animal onomatopoeia were consulted to determine which sounds seemed most common. Next, animal sound clips were gathered from online sources, mainly from the video-sharing site YouTube.com. Animal sounds without significant background noise were the most optimal sources for analysis, but suitable clips were difficult to acquire. In the end, eight animals were selected: dogs, cats, pigs, cows, roosters, ducks, frogs, and bees. The foreign language onomatopoeia tokens were selected by Internet availability for each of the eight selected animal sounds. I chose to use only those onomatopoeia that I could find sound files for, despite the large amount of written information on foreign language onomatopoeia, which was used as a reference (Abbott, 2004). This was to ensure that phonetic similarities could be more accurately determined, as written words do not always accurately indicate the actual phonetic production. Also, sounds that were not in the language’s phonology were removed; thus pulmonic ingressives and clicks, which existed in some videos, were assumed to not be a lexical item, but a direct imitation of the animal sound. The total list of languages ended up as: Arabic, Bengali, Dutch, English, French, German, Hindi, Hokkien, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, Turkish.
  5. 5.   5   These sounds were then transcribed into narrow IPA and compared cross linguistically to find patterns. If applicable, different onomatopoeic paradigms were constructed to categorized different onomatopoeia. These were plotted on a map and geo-linguistic patterns were analyzed. Finally, rudimentary syntheses based on formants in the animal clips were created for some animal sounds in order to discover whether or not certain parts of the onomatopoeic sounds could have been based on the formants in an animal’s utterance as well as to see any unexpected formant or other articulatory difference reflected in the spectrograms of animal sounds. Results   Chart  1.   dog   cat   pig   cow   rooster   duck   bee   frog   tagalog   aw  aw     oink   mo   tik-­‐tilawk   kwak     kokak   indonesian   kʊk  kʊk   mɛɐ̃ŋ   ŋok     mü   kukuruyuk   kwek   ŋuŋ   krok   korean   mʌŋ   jaw   kɯɭɯ       ɯmme   kokioː   kwɛk     kʰɛkɯɭ   japanese   waɴ   nja  /njaɴ   bɯçi   moː   kokekokko   kuakku   bɯn   keɭo   english   wʊf   mjaʊ   ojŋk   muː   kʰɒkʰədudl̩duː   kʰwæk   bʌz   rɪbɪt   german   vʊf     mjaw   gʁʊnts   muː   kikeriki   kʰwak   zʊm   kʰwak   dutch   wɜf   mjaw   knor     bubu   kʉkelekʉ        italian   baw   mjaw     muu   kikiriki   kwak   zz   kra  kra   french   waf   mjaw   gʁwã   mø   kokoriko     bzz    spanish   ɣʷaw   mjaw     muu   kikiriki     bzz    romania   hɐm   mjaw   grʊf   mou          russia   gav   mjaw   xrju   mu   kukareku        india     baw  waw   mjaw     bawwi   klʌk  klu  klʌk        bengali   ɡʰew   mew       hamba   molok        arabic   haw     mjaw       bak  bvakgir     zzt    turkish   haw  haw   mjaw     møː   ʉ  ʉrʉ  ʉ  ʉː        mandarin   waŋ  waŋ   mjaw     mow   ɔ  ɔ  ɔ        taiwanese   wɤŋ  wɤŋ   mjaw     mow   kokokoo     bʑʑ    
  6. 6.   6   Dog +cont[ ]( ) V +back ! " # $ % & +cont[ ] eg. [waŋ] While dog sounds could all be analyzed into the structure above, several subdivisions seem to exist which have greater within-group similarities than between-group similarities, especially given the geo-linguistic ties within these groups (see appendix A1). 1. West Germanic + French: LAB +cont ! " # $ % & V +back ! " # $ % & f[ ] eg. [wʊf] 2. East Asian Sprachbund: LAB +cont ! " # $ % & V +back ! " # $ % & DOR +nasal ! " # $ % & eg. [wɤŋ] 3. Scattered languages: (C) [aʊ] eg. [baʊ] Three dog barks are shown in the spectrogram below. F2 and F3 generally seem to fall while F1 exhibits a slight rising and falling tendency, most clearly in the third bark. In addition, the intensity seems to fall just before F1 falls in frequency, with the darkest energy bands happening in the front. Without any noticeable difference in the background grey bands, it seems this most closely resembles a low to high diphthong, something like /aw/. Indeed, the synthesis based on these formants produced a low to high rising diphthong [aɰ]. Thus, an onset-less category 3 type sound seems most similar.    
  7. 7.   7   Pigs DOR +voice ! " # $ % & rhotic[ ] LAB −cons ! " # $ % &(C)(C)(C) (see appendix A2) eg. [gʁwã] Pig sounds varied significantly. In addition, the spectrogram contained various phenomena other mammals did not exhibit such as creakiness, shown by lines in the energy, and a static F1 that mirrored closely the F2. Removing F1 from the synthesis created a sound similar to [əәi]. No nasals can be clearly seen, nor final or initial consonant-like sounds. Also interesting is that the higher formants seem to have successively later voice onset times. This analysis remains inconclusive although the vowel indicated by formants and the synthesis points to an [oiŋk]. Rooster   [[k]V]σ [[k]V]σ [[liquid]V]σ [[k]V]σ (see appendix A3) eg. [kokoriko] The rooster’s sound seems to have an overall syllabic shape cross-linguistically with three or four syllables. This is reflected in the dips in intensity at specific parts. These dips in intensity co-occur with slight dips in frequency. The large blank area with massively dipping intensity in the beginning also may be interpreted as a stop, which lends support to the “cock-a-doodle-doo” of English onomatopoeia. Another point of interest is that so many languages have a k as onsets
  8. 8.   8   for each of these syllables, but given the geolinguistic ties, it may be loan word influence. Another interesting finding is in the South Asian and Southeast Asian regions, several languages represented the rooster’s call with a closed syllable with coda [k], despite the last part of the spectrogram showing the clearest signs of pure vowel formants. The synthesis based on vowel frequencies of F1 and F2 yielded a sound akin to [ɐ].               Duck k[ ] w[ ] V −high " # $ % & ' k[ ] eg. [kwak] The duck sounds exhibited an amazing degree of similarity with the majority of difference existing solely in vowel height from [e] to [a] and aspiration of the velar stops. The below spectrogram demonstrates this, showing a clear F2 and F3 transitioning from a single point into two clear formants, along with a slight frication band of energy in higher frequencies. F1 also appears as an arced band of faint energy. While a final velar pinch is not clearly seen, the formants move in that position. Also, there is not a frication, but as in human speech, and also
  9. 9.   9   because of the information-carrying capabilities of formant transitions, the sound is likely to cause humans to perceive a [k]. Why there is a [w] glide is not as clear. Frog Western European Sprachbund: DOR −son −cont " # $ $ $ % & ' ' ' +son −nasal " # $ % & ' V[ ] DOR −son −cont " # $ $ $ % & ' ' ' (see appendix A4) eg. [kroʊk] Another interesting phenomenon is the frog croak, which cross linguistically is commonly treated as another [k] sound. Here, we also see a velar pinch in both ends of the utterance as well as lines showing a creaky voice. However, an [r] or [w] is not as visible since F2 and F3 stay stable after transitions. It is possible that one of the other sounds is more accurate. Bee LAB −cont " # $ % & 'V z[ ] eg. [bʌz] Bee sounds are rather uniform with a voiced coronal fricative in all onomatopoeia found. Despite the sound being produced not orally, but by the beating wings, the source is still turbulence and therefore acoustically is similar. The initial [b] in many onomatopoeia could be the interpretation
  10. 10.   10   of the acceleration of the wings before full speed, as a lower frequency is characteristic of labials and therefore it may be perceived as a labial. Cat +nasal[ ] j[ ] V[ ] −cons +round " # $ % & ' (see appendix A5) eg. [mjaʊ] Cats had a very similar onomatopoeic representation throughout the world, with the vast majority of languages all phonetically representating their cries as [mjaʊ]. If we look at the spectrogram, it appears that the diphthong [aʊ] is quite clear in the formant movement, and the initial rising band of energy may hint at a perceivable [j]. The nasal is less clear, although there is a faint band of energy that is both visible and being picked up that may be nasal damping effects and thus hint at a nasal onset.    
  11. 11.   11   Cows m[ ] V +back +round +long ! " # # # # $ % & & & & eg. [mu] Cows similarly had near universal onomatopoeia. The spectrogram too showed most clearly the possible reasons for this similarity. Clear formants gave a pure long vowel. The synthesis gave a vowel similar to [ɒ], but I suspect that the sound is typically is given an [u] or [o] sound in onomatopoeia because of the nasality seen in the beginning of the call heard throughout the vowel. The nasal qualities may have effects on perception. CONCLUSION  &  DISCUSSION   In conclusion, I found that the closest phonetic representations of animal sounds did not line up as closely with biological similarity. Cats and cows, both mammals, had near universally similar onomatopoeia which closely paralleled the spectrogram formant patterns. However, ducks, which are not mammals, produced sounds that were similarly near identical with spectrogram readings that did contain recognizable features. Less universal were dogs, roosters, and bees, none of which were from the same animal family but showed a medium amount of phonetic
  12. 12.   12   features cross-linguistically although these were not necessarily as traceable to the actual spectrograms as the animals with the most similar onomatopoeia. Lastly, pigs and frogs showed a high degree of variability with only one or two similar features: the [k] sounds with frogs. The presence of mammals in various tiers of onomatopoeic similarities does not lend support to genetic and physiological similarity as a factor. Still, as this was a phonetics study, it could be that the assumption that similar genetics would mean similar physiology would need more justification as it could be that certain animals even within the same family could have evolved apart in the vocal tract area, or converged despite being in different evolutionary trees. Indeed, this may be the reason why some of the syntheses had acoustic productions that differed from the animal sound expected or suggested by the majority of surveyed languages. A further area of study is whether or not certain sound patterns in animal calls are more easily perceived. For example, both cows and cats share nasality in their onomatopoeia and this nasality can be seen somewhat in the spectrograms, while pig and frog calls both exhibit creakiness.
  13. 13.   13   REFERENCES   Abbott, D. (2004). Animal Sounds. Retrieved from http://www.eleceng.adelaide.edu.au/personal/dabbott/animal.html ESL Web. (ND). Hear What?: Animal Sounds in different languages. Retrieved from http://www.esl-languages.com/en/animal-sounds.htm Funnysexy0624. (2, Nov, 2010). My Korean Boyfriend: Korean animal sounds. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IfN6tYHJWZU Immsl. (21, Aug, 2009). A Bee Buzz At My Sitting Room. (Very Noisy Buzz). Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LsDM-ktYLsc Keirmorse. (1, May, 2007). Pacific Tree Frog. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcFKQKjv0-o Kidslearningvideo.(30, Aug, 2010). Farm Animal Sounds. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vuiwA4Ne_pU Properniceinnit. (ND). Bow Wow Meow – Animal Sounds in Different Languages. Retrieved from http://vimeo.com/25215616 WoodGirl14. (20, Oct, 2009). Animal sounds in Japanese, Indonesian, German, Italian. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEpudI87Pew
  14. 14.   14   APPENDIX A.1  Dog  onomatopoeia  map   A.2  Pig  onomatopoeia  map  
  15. 15.   15   A.3  Rooster  onomatopoeia  map     A4.  Frog  onomatopoeia  map  
  16. 16.   16   A5.  Cat  onomatopoeia  map  

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