The web site The sounds of Catalan (www.ub.edu/sonscatala) contains a series of materials for the self-study of phonetic aspects for students at both secondary and university level and for students of Catalan as a foreign language. It will also be useful for professionals working in language services and speech therapy.
At present, the web site materials are based on the sounds of the central eastern dialect. This is the first stage of a more ambitious project that will contain specific exercises for each of the language’s major dialects as well as general exercises. The web site comprises three pages:
1) A start page with Flash animated sound tables. As users move over the sounds in the table, a window appears showing the characteristics of each sound and the origin of the symbol used to represent it. As users move over the other parts of the tables, they find explanations of the place and mode of articulation of consonant sounds, the position and the height of the tongue in the production of the vowels, and the origin and function of the diacritic marks.
2) The second page can be accessed by clicking on the consonant and vowel symbols in the sound tables. It contains:
a) a video file, in which two native speakers (a man and a woman) produce the sound in different word contexts;
b) a Flash animated chart representing the air path and the movement of articulators in the production of the sound;
c) a spectrogram and an oscillogram accompanied by a sound file for each of the words pronounced by the native speakers.
The three parts of the second page differ in their complexity and can be selected for use by students according to their knowledge of phonetics.
3) The third page deals with sound comparison and contains three Flash animated articulation charts. Users choose the consonant and vowel charts in the sound tables that they want to consult and compare them.
The project was led by Joan Solà, Josefina Carrera and Clàudia Pons. Additional advice was provided by phonetics teachers at several Catalan universities. Participants included the two informants and the technicians who produced the acoustic representation, pictures and Flash animations, the web site design and structure, and sound and image recordings. This project was made possible by the financial support of the University of Barcelona, the Ramon Llull Institute and the Casa de les Llengües.