At its core, language translates a meaning in the mind of a speaker/signer into a form that is audible or visual, depending on the modality, and vice versa. That is, language converts meaning to sound or gesture, and converts sound or gesture to meaning. 'Phonology' is the part of linguistics studying the patterns observed in these language sounds or gestures – speech sounds and gestures are the raw material of phonology.
It may therefore seem surprising that most courses in phonology involve very little exposure to actual sound or gesture. For reasons that are dominantly historical and technological, representations of sound in print have been the basis for presenting phonological material to students of phonology. This project aims to take a step towards correcting this imbalance. Language data from diverse languages will be recorded and encoded in a format that will be audibly accessible to students of sound systems.
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Douglas Pulleyblank, Professor, Linguistics, Faculty of Arts