LINGUIST List 6.75

Fri 20 Jan 1995

Sum: X-rays and acoustic signals

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. "FRANKE INGOLF", Sum: X-rays and acoustic signals

Message 1: Sum: X-rays and acoustic signals

Date: Fri, 20 Jan 1995 11:59:31 MET
Subject: Sum: X-rays and acoustic signals

Dear Linguist members,

some weeks ago I published a request for information about methods
of measuring movements of the articulating organs. Within this field I
was especially interested in X-ray documentation and films.

Alice Faber ( wrote that "back in the 1960's the
Center for Applied Linguistics here in the US made a set of such films
of 'exotic' languages. We have a set here at Haskins, ..."

Caroline Smith reported on another method of measurement. She wrote
that a method of measurement which works on the basis of
electromagnetism was used by "the people at the Institut fuer Phonetik
und Sprachliche Kommunikation der Universitaet Muenchen, who are
the world leaders in ElectromagneticArticulography

Bob Port ( from Indiana reports on "X-ray
microbeam data at Univ of Wisconsin." and continues "There is now a
large amount of material available, but is not in video form"

A most interesting hint at X-ray documentation I want to give verbally
at this place: Kenneth R. Beesley ( writes: "I
have also seen X-ray movies from the Eastman collection in
Rochester, New York. These films show, among many other things,
people talking, playing musical instruments, and moving in various
ways. For medical interest, there are also films of swallowing and
bladder functions.
I have seen some X-ray photographs of vowel-production settings
from the old USSR, but these are less interesting than films.
The Eastman films, produced in the 1940s and early 50s, I believe, are
unintentionally frightening because the doses of X-rays considered
safe then were perhaps 500 times what they are now.
As best I can remember, these films were somewhat inspired by X-ray
films made by the Nazis using inmates of concentration camps. These
films, brought back to the United States after the war, were watched
in fascination by Eastman and his colleagues. They featured scenes
with full skeletons walking about. The X-ray doses were no doubt fatal
to the victims."
Beesley also reports on phoneticians from the University of Glasgow,
Scotland and members of the School of Dentistry, who some eighteen
years ago produced X-ray images that show people talking.

Helmer Strike ( delivers two methods of measuring
articulation: " The technique that resembles the old X-ray films the
most is called MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging). A good article on
this topic is Baer et al. (1991) Journal of the Acoustical Society of
America, nr. 90 (2), pp. 799 - 828. ... Another, quite different technique,
which is used very often, is called EPG (Electro-Palato-Graphy)"

In particular, I would like to thank Ocke Bohn
( for having sent me an article on how to
describe articulation by means of infrared light. She reported as well
on experiments using ultrasound for recording the movements of the
articulating organs.

In conclusion, I want to give another idea of how to make use of
CD-ROM in combination with X-ray technology. Today's technology
has made it possible to save pictures and videos (here videos
produced through X-rays) conveniently down onto a CD. This opens up
the possibility to combine recordings of various institutions on one CD
and, by means of this collection, deliver an outstanding contribution to
the further understanding of what is happening when people talk.
Besides the actual recordings, further information about videos and
X-ray images that concerns both the history of this subject and its
methodology could be gathered in one single multi media application in
such a way that a CD like this would provide important information
about the topic "Articulation and the Methods of Its Measurement" in a
user-friendly way and, what is more, would be available for a greater
number of non-expert PC-users. Anyone interested in this project and
willing to support this idea should write to one of the following


Ingolf Franke
Zeughausstrasse 31
D-54292 Trier
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue