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Search > Learning Exercise Results > Suprasegmental Lab

Learning Exercise: Suprasegmental Lab

Suprasegmental Lab
This lab examines the difference between a statement and a question, and the intensity, duration and frequency changes with word stress.


Submitted by:
Susan Phillips
Date Last Modified:
January 26, 2011


CSD 307 Lab 9 Key: Suprasegmentals 1. Record the sentences: “She was here today.” and “She was here today?” Use the Print Screen method to paste both recordings into your lab and label them. What acoustic cues tell you, when looking at the spectrogram, which one is a question? Discussion: 2. Record the sentence: “Bev loves Ben.” with stress on the “Bev.” Put the spectrogram for each word into your lab. Highlight and delete the dead space at the beginning of each recording so they all start at the same time. Measure the frequency, intensity and duration of each word. As you highlight each word, listen to it to be sure you are not getting part of another word. Measure frequency by highlighting the whole word, then click on Analyze from the top menu bar, and choose Plot Spectrum. Place your cursor on the earliest part of the earliest peak in the plot and record the frequency indicated beside the word “cursor.” You can determine a rough measure of intensity by taking the indicated intensity at the peak (even though it is negative in this program) and subtract it from the maximum of 80 dB. Record this number as a positive number in dB SPL. Duration you will measure by looking back at the highlighted section of the spectrogram for that word, and obtaining the duration in milliseconds from the bar at the bottom. It will be inside the parentheses and will be the first 3 numbers after the period. Record that number in the table. Repeat this process two more times and average the measurements for each parameter. Then repeat the entire process with stress on the word “loves” and again with stress on the word “Ben.” Discuss your finding in terms of the relationship between variables as a function of stress. Bev loves Ben Stressed “Bev” Frequency Intensity Duration Stressed “loves” Frequency Intensity Duration Stressed “Ben” Frequency Intensity Duration Discussion:
Additional Information:



  • College Upper Division


Statement vs. question, word stress acoustics


Recording in Audacity, screen capture

Learning Objectives

Students will: 1. identify the acoustic cues differentiating a statement from a question. 2. identify changes in intensity, frequency and duration with word stress in a sentence.

Type of Task

  • Individual
  • Student-centered
  • Unsupervised