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A page for notes and materials for Iha.  [WALS|OLAC]

2011-12-07 MD

We realized later in the day that we were spending too much time on individual items, that it makes more sense to delay resolving issues about particular elicited tokens since it later may become much clearer how to resolve them after we have more data.

2011-12-08 KJ


As decided yesterday Team Iha split into two groups; five eliciting new forms and four reviewing the recordings from yesterday.

In the reviewing group it was noted that it is vital to keep a record of the order of elicitation in the compressed recording. Also, some new forms for previously elicited words were produced, and should have been noted in the recording session. On 7/12/11 we used a headset microphone which worked well in getting a clear recording of Simon, but unfortunately did not pick up the number corresponding to the database, English or Indonesian glosses.

Despite difficulty finding words in the recording, the reviewing group listened back over words of interest which we had transcribed as having a L.H contour. Upon listening again it sounded perhaps to be a stress issue with words which have the second syllable stressed appearing to have higher in pitch on that syllable. That is to say, all words had no higher pitch than that found on the first syllable.

The most right syllable consistently had falling pitch, sometimes HL and sometimes ML – a distinction Praat showed clearly and something we will be looking into further.

Meanwhile, the elicitation group tried two frames for the nouns elicited on 7/12/11. The first frame was in a verb phrase ‘he sees X’, the second with a locative. There was some concern of the locative frame – will we get a consistent form? – but in the end it worked fine, though very little new tone related information was retrieved.

The morning group recording was conducted almost exclusively in Indonesian, so we will try to ensure there is a non-Indonesian speaker in the elicitation group each time to make sure there are English as well as Indonesian glosses on the recordings.

There appears to be some rightward effect in the verb context regarding the pitch of the first syllable of the verb.

The ‘he sees X’ frame – 3SG  N   V :
(where F is ‘fall’, either HL or ML)

H.H  <H(.H).F>  H.L

H.H  <H(.H).F> L.L

With the second pitch pattern occurring with words ‘nose’ and ‘finger’, both multisyllabic words which should be looked into regarding their syllable structure.

The locative frame – N LOC

<H> L

All words in the locative frame were monosyllabic.

Before lunch the groups reconvened to debrief and discuss how to continue.


In the afternoon the morning’s recordings were listened to and we continued eliciting the nouns we have in the same frames.

The reviewing group began looking at our data in Praat.

In the elicitation When it became clear that the locative form was too unnatural there was a complete change of direction to looking into numerals. There was some confusion over a potential H.H pitch on ‘five’ which disappeared on later repetitions to conform to the standard H followed by a falling pitch.

At this stage Simon started demonstrating the pitch of words by using nonsense words – ‘na’ – to more clearly demonstrate the pitch of the word, abstracting away from the segments. We also began offering a numeral twice with different tone patterns, asking Simon to indicate which he preferred. While that is not alone conclusive that there is tone in Iha, it did add to the evidence for tone in this language.

After recording a compressed version of the afternoon’s elicitation Mark who was sitting in on our group quickly ran through some locative paradigms with ‘on’, ‘to’, ‘from’, ‘on top of’ and ‘under’ various nouns. It sounded as though the ‘on top of’ locative frame had a higher pitch in the middle of the frame, though we will need to closely listen to the recordings.

A concern: because we do not always capture the tone on the first instance of the form – sometimes we are concerned with the segments, sometimes just not properly focussed – the tone changes with later repetitions from a natural speed and tone to exaggerated syllables (especially for compounds) and loss of originally perceived pitch to the fall back H.F.

Also, another worrying issue is that we may be getting pidgin forms in our frames with Simon saying that Iha is ‘hard’ and will help us by giving us the easier version.  

At this stage we are unsure if tone is lexical or something else. That is if we are convinced Iha is tonal at all!


Start eliciting verbs – taking particular notice of the first syllable’s pitch
Record more nouns – disyllabic and tri-syllabic if possible
Try some other paradigms for nouns, and verbs is possible
Continue Praat analysis
Compare words with same number of syllables but different stress patterns


- We are still looking out for unambiguous contrast. A new approach was to offer the members of a possible minimal pair for interpretation by the speaker - is he consistent in translation. However, it was not a like-with-like comparison. We felt this type of performance testing is a promising way to evaluate hypotheses.

- We are working in two different groups, working separately on elicitation and on annotation, using different frames. We realized after the fact that we have been using different frame labels in the TextGrid annotation. The lesson is that - as elicitation develops from citation into a wide range of contexts - we should have developed a frame tag list, so that e.g. noun+verb is labeled "F1" consistently.

- Yesterday's recordings on locative paradigms turned out to be less useful in processing and transcription. It was felt that the speaker was rushed during elicitation. We should have been more attentive during elicitation to get a natural rhythm, by coaching and monitoring the speaker.

- Unexpected effect of the headset mic: it picks up the speaker's breathing quite strongly. it is not a major problem: people don't breathe while they talk. 

Iha Daily Report for December 12, 2011
Report by Keith Snider

Today was “swap day.” With two people (a different two each hour) missing from our crew at all times, we were not able to get as much done as we normally do. This was mostly because we allowed the two people who swapped in each time to mostly just observe, although a couple of them did fill needed roles on a couple of occasions.

I appreciated the contributions of the people who visited our group, both in their help and also in the suggestions they offered from time to time. This kind of cross-fertilization is always helpful.

In the past we found that trying to elicit data with such a large group was very time consuming, due to all the discussion that was generated, and so at one point last week, we made a decision to split into two groups, with one group eliciting data that was mostly without transcription, and the other group working in another group on transcription. The roles are mixed up often and no one person does this all the time, by any means. This made our elicitation go much better and since then I believe that we have elicted a lot of good data. The weakness in what we are doing is that the transcription team is getting behind, which is not good. One disadvantage of their getting behind is that when eliciting we do not know the results of a lot of our previous elicitation sessions, which means that what we elicit isn’t necessarily as useful as it might otherwise be. Tomorrow, we will still break up into groups, but it will be a bit different in that our elicitation people will also transcribe what they are eliciting. This will have the effect of slowing them down as well as helping out with transcription.

We also invited Mark Donohue to fill us in on what he knows about the tone system, since at this point we have gone far enough into the investigation that there is no longer any real reason not to have this information. He informed us that we need to control for contrast and focus since these environments have tonal effects of their own that neutralize whatever contrasts exist on nouns. So we devised frames that ensured that the nouns in view were neither objects of contrast or focus. We then elicited our nouns in this new frame. We also elicited new nouns in isolation as well as in this frame. We then elicited a few compound forms like “bird-egg,” using all the different types of birds we had in our noun inventory, and eliciting them in isolation as well as in the non-focus frame. Finally, we elicited a few noun-adjective constructions in the non-focus frame. Throughout the elicitation, we observed that the tone patterns of the different nouns were changing, which indicates that there is at least a two-way contrast of noun melodies. We eagerly await the results of tomorrows transcriptions to confirm this and enlighten us further.

2011-12-09 Ginny

Today we began by talking over where we thought we were at, which was that we think there are contrasts on unfocussed nouns. We then split into two groups – elicitors and transcribers.

The elicitors set out getting more nouns in isolation and then in the unfocussed frame. We noticed there was no variation on the monosyllabic nouns, but what seems to be a LL and HL distinction on disyllabic nouns in these same frames. In isolation these collapse to H HL (sometimes H ML), and with the allative suffix /-na/ to H H L. This was all very exciting – contrastive tone (in at least one frame)!

As for methodological notes from the eliciting, we had to be careful to make sure Simon did not focus on the noun in question (as focus is realised in tone – collapsing the lexical tone). To avoid this we used the frames “who saw __” and “who went to __”. The tone did not seem to vary between the two frames, but it served to mix things up so Simon was not focussing on the changing noun.

It was pointed out at one stage that Iha is a difficult language in that if you focus on anything the contrast collapses. We had to be very covert. It also means that compressed recordings are not an option at all. He gets the pattern too quickly and starts listing and focusing on the changing noun. Instead we recorded the whole session, and took detailed notes of where things happened.

We also did the transcription as we went, so we don't get backed up again.

In the other group, Lenice set out organising the database (which was a mess). This really needed doing and I think we all feel a lot better now it's happening. Fanny and Keith (and then Matthew and Keith in the afternoon) transcribed the data from yesterday that we thought were giving contrasts. Just before lunch they announced that they made a discovery: the adjectives meaning big and small affect the tone of the noun. The adjectives themselves are realised as LL, but big causes the noun to be low, and small causes the noun to be high.

In the afternoon we continued getting more data – trying big/small noun in the frame with the new nouns. Lenice continued databasing and there was a transcribing team (Matthew and Keith). The transcribers suspect there is a register phenomenon going on.

The way we did things today was the most effective way so far. We were especially careful to get together as a group and talk about discoveries so that we all actually know what's going on and are heading in the same direction.   

Fanny Cottet,
Dec 11, 2011, 6:55 PM
Steven Bird,
Dec 11, 2011, 12:27 PM
Steven Bird,
Dec 12, 2011, 4:20 AM
Lenice Harms,
Dec 13, 2011, 11:50 PM
Lenice Harms,
Dec 12, 2011, 11:00 PM
Steven Bird,
Dec 13, 2011, 2:41 AM
Steven Bird,
Dec 14, 2011, 1:51 PM
Lenice Harms,
Dec 13, 2011, 11:50 PM
Steven Bird,
Dec 15, 2011, 2:09 AM
Virginia Dawson,
Dec 15, 2011, 3:15 AM
Virginia Dawson,
Dec 15, 2011, 8:30 PM
Virginia Dawson,
Dec 7, 2011, 11:47 PM
Virginia Dawson,
Dec 8, 2011, 3:18 AM