As many of you know, The Name Inspector includes special phonetic representations along with his name analyses. He’s always considered these to be not only graphically interesting, but also useful as visualization tools. Even if you aren’t familiar with the International Phonetic Alphabet, on which these representation are based, you can still get an overall impression of the phonetic properties of a name from one of these little pictures. Syllables are separated by spaces to make them visually distinct, the relative stress of syllables is shown by the use of three different font sizes, and the different degrees of sonority of the various sound segments are indicated by darker and lighter shades of gray.

The thing is, the real value of this kind of visualization is in comparing names to one another, which is hard when each phonetic representation occurs alone in a post. So The Name Inspector has added a page that simply presents all the phonetic representations in a list. Each item is a link to the relevant post. Scanning the list gives you a sense of how each name compares to the others: how long it is phonetically, what kinds of sounds are predominant, and the like. You can also use the list to practice reading phonetic transcription. And it looks kind of cool. Enjoy.
[tags]visualization, phonetic, phonetics, phonetic transcription, IPA, linguistic, linguistics[/tags]

One Response to “Name visualization: The phonetic name list”

  1. on 26 Jun 2007 at 1:17 am John Xavier

    Examining the phonetic representations of names is definitely an interesting topic. Great idea with the sonority representations, makes it easy to tell which sounds are the “harder” ones.

    I’m pretty much familiar with phonetic transcriptions, There was only one symbol I haven’t seen before: it’s the schwa with the hook (Éš) but it was easy to figure out (the “er” sound).

    Pretty much all textbooks on phonetics seemed to use symbols that differed from IPA though (especially for the diphthongs).

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