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Speech analysis

Now you can practise analysing suprasegmental features of natural speech, rather than segmental or phonemic transcription. Focus on how the speakers chunk speech into tone units through the use of pauses, stress placement and tonicity. Try to note also whether they use a falling (\) or rising (/) tone at the end of tone units. Use the symbols in the key below to mark up your transcription.


Now listen to each of the recordings below and try to do your own suprasegmental analysis. Listen as many times as you like and:

  1. Write down what you hear - word for word (don't write phonemically)
  2. When you've written all the words down, listen again several times and mark pauses
  3. Now listen again and mark all the stressed words
  4. Listen again and mark tonic words
  5. Finally, listen again and decide if the final word before each pause has a falling or rising tone
  6. When you've done as much as you can, look at the transcription, compare it with your own and listen to the recording while reading.

Audio 1

Click here to see a transcript

Audio 2

Click here to see a transcript

Audio 3

Click here to see a transcript

Audio 4

Click here to see a transcript

Recording and text file used by permission of the International Dialects of English Archive (see Resources section).

You can find lots more similar recordings on the IDEA website.