Seeing Speech: Using Praat to Visualize Hul’q’umi’num’ Sounds




Bird, Sonya
Claxton, Rae Anne
Percival, Maida

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Language Documentation & Conservation


As is typical across Turtle Island, the Hul’q’umi’num’ (Coast Salish) language revitalization movement is being carried by adult language learners (Haynes 2010; McIvor 2015) but becoming a proficient Hul’q’umi’num’ speaker is challenging given the complexity of its sound system. In this paper, we share our experiences using the speech analysis software Praat (Boersma & Weenink 2018) to help in our pronunciation work. We describe the types of pronunciation patterns that can benefit from Praat-based speech visualization, including whole sound adjustments, glottalization adjustments, and timing adjustments. We then discuss how this tool has helped us, by providing tangible feedback on our speech, by allowing us to learn by observing and modelling (a more gentle and culturally appropriate form of learning than explicit instruction), and by learning from Elders through their voices, even when they are not able to be present during pronunciation sessions. In our experience, these benefits combine to increase the confidence that learners feel in working on their pronunciation and therefore in becoming more proficient speakers.


We would like to thank Elders Dr. Sti’tum’at Ruby Peter, Swustanulwut Delores Louie, and Tth’ulsult-hw Merle Seymour for their time, support, and expertise; other students of SFU’s Linguistics 830 class whose knowledge is also incorporated into this work; the audience at our ICLDC 2019 presentation for feedback on our project; the two reviewers for their valuable comments on this paper.



Bird, S., Claxton, R. A., Percival, M. (2023). Seeing speech: Using Praat to visualize Hul’q’umi’num’ sounds. Language Documentation & Conservation, 17, 297-324.