Writing About Language and Sound

One of the tricky things about writing about sound has always been how to represent it. Those interested in writing about language sounds can avail themselves of the international phonetic alphabet, and those interested in writing about bird songs can use such things as the sonogram or musical scale. But none of this gear quite does justice to the sound: contours and subtle tones are invariably left out.

The brilliant and accomplished Pete Gayed recently turned me to a piece over at Slate that chats about interjections such as awwa, meh, feh, and heh. What's nifty about the article is the way the author/coder embedded sound and video in the text. With sound files and video worked immediately into the piece, it looks like this:

I love not only how the sounds are captured instead of textually represented, but also how they're worked into the document instead of being set aside as illustrative material.

Needless to say, paper as a platform does not support this.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous3:48 PM

    It's nice to see sound files used inline. Now, if only the software company could come up with a smaller icon for inline use, the approach might really take off!