Concept Map

Recently I’ve been trying to use more concept maps in my courses to show how different concepts of linguistics are related. Below is a diagram quickly sketching the evolution of modern English dialects.

English Dialect tree. Anglo-Saxon to 1066 (Norman Invasion). Scots branches off, then Great Vowel shift. Then pre-Mid Atlantic US branches (Standard US/Canada). Loss of final r in S England. Branches to UK, New England, New York, Southern U.S., Australia


The first is a screen capture of a spectogram which shows a visual of acoustic signals for two similar consonants – /s/ and /š/ (“sh”). The spectrogram shows that both are fairly loud (black areas are louder than gray areas), but that /s/ has a higher pitch than /š/.

Spectrogram for English s and sh

Vocal Tract

Sounds are made by moving the tongue or lips into different positions. Understanding how the anatomy of “vocal tract” is a key to understanding the nature of sound change or mispronunciations. Most textbooks include a copy of the vocal tract, but I made my own so I could edit it as needed.

profile of head showing tongue, roof of mouth, teeth, nasal  cavity. Labels for different regions are added.

Realia (courtesy of Wikipedia)

A challenge for many instructors working with social sciences is finding valid images of various real-world scenarios which do not violate copyright. Wikipedia is one source where many images can be found. Others include repositories which include images licensed under Creative Commons. Below are some unique images I found through these sources.

Audio Technology

Since linguistics is the scientific study of speech and language, audio files can be an important technology, especially for phonetics. Below are some sample audio files in the .wav format demonstrating the pronunciation of Welsh letter “ll” or ‘voiceless L’. These were recorded directly onto a Macintosh and can be played in most media players including Quicktime, Windows Media Player and Real Player.

Illustrations for Linguistics

Visuals can be used to demonstrate the mechanics and acoustics of pronunciation. Below are two examples of visuals I created for my course in phonology.