return of the promised pants

I’m so embarrassed. I ran off to class on Monday, with my pants only half-way up. I mean, my pants post. I promised you some pants, and then I left you hanging. So, here I am again. Back with the pants.

Before I begin with the in-depth pants analysis, let’s pull our pants back up:

a. Listen to the pants. The file pair_of_pants.wav (and the streamed mp3 version of the same) contains two productions of the word pants, one “normal,” and one “funny.” (Before I tell you which is which, I’ll let you try the pants on yourself for size. I mean, judgements.)

Streamed version of pair_of_pants.mp3:

pair_of_pants.wav soundfile (can be downloaded):

b. pants methods. To recap:

The two productions of pants were spoken by a female native speaker of American English who was wearing pajama pants at the time of the recording. Each of the two versions of pants is of a similar length (roughly .7 seconds from the onset of the [p] burst), and produced in citation form with a similar f0 contour (H* L-L% in ToBI terms).

c. The funny pants. In my head at least, the second pants version is way funnier than the first. Especially when used in a sentence, such as “you’re not wearing pants:”


d. Look at the pants. Let’s return to our citation form examples.

Figure 1: pair_of_pants.wav with accompanying Praat TextGrid, and some arrows and stuff
Note: The display shows waveform (top panel) and spectrogram with overlayed f0 track in blue (middle panel). The third panel, the TextGrid, shows orthographic transcription.

e. Pants analysis. A couple of acoustic differences between the two versions are quite striking: 1) differences in aspiration and 2) differences in the second formant.

  1. differences in aspiration. Check out the much higher amplitude aspiration noise in the second version (on the right). The arrows marked with “1” point to this in the waveform. Further, you can hear the aspiration ([h]-ness) continuing through the vowel, which is produced with a much breathier voice than the first version.
  2. differences in the second formant. (Note: if you’re not used to reading spectrograms, the first 3 formants show up as more-or-less horizontal dark smudgy lines. The first formant is on the bottom. The second formant, marked with the red arrows marked with “2”, is the middle dark smudgy line.) In the “normal” pants version, the second formant falls rather steeply throughout the vowel (indicating that the vowel is diphthongized). In the “funny” pants version, the second formant stays pretty much horizontal.

f. Pants conclusions. Pants is a funny word. I like to say the word pants.

9 thoughts on “return of the promised pants

  1. You know what a funny word is? Diphthongized.

    Hahahahahaha. You said ‘thong’.

    Suffice it to say that I haven’t a clue what you’re talking about. Again, your level of in-depth technical analysis escapes my feeble mind. Well done!

  2. kchretie-
    You’re right. Diphthongized is a frickin’ hilarious word. But not nearly as fun to say as pants. (In fact, it’s pretty hard to say. Usually it’s only pronounced by highly trained stunt linguists.) And as far as in-depth technical analysis, were you not familiar with the technical term dark smudgy line? Without this bit of terminology, it is indeed hard to follow my analysis. Especially if you’re not wearing pants. (And I believe I know you by another name…or…um…identity.)

  3. I think the second pants is funnier because it sounds more British. And it’s a well known fact that anything said with a British accent is inherently funnier than without. Seriously, I think someone wrote a paper on it. Try saying any Monty Python line with a plain vanilla American accent, and see if it’s anywhere near as funny. I rest my case.

  4. um, wow. none of this post makes any sense to me whatsoever. so i think i’ll send it over to my mom, who at one point was studying the sound “ba” – something about a pre-voiced b and voiced b. god only knows. but rock on – the graphics are cool. :-)

  5. bs-
    Good point on the British accent. I mean, it’s amazing that those Brits get any work done at all, what with the constant giggling at everything they say. hee, hee, you said ‘personnel report’…

    Not as funny as high amplitude sucking, though.

    Your mother was studying the sound “ba”? Was that with sheep? Or does she do some sort of linguistics?

    Don’t worry, Aunt Mildred, your identity is safe with me.

  6. You should make a post about high amplitude sucking. But don’t tell anybody what it means.

    Or maybe you should use the term more often in movie reviews. “Did you see _The Avengers_? That was some high amplitude sucking.”

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