and I can finally say I finished listening to all my data! It was definitely one of the more tedious aspects of this research project and there was absolutely no way around it. My study ended up having 35 participants, each providing data for 45 words. Each participant’s sound file took at least 30 minutes to listen through (for those of you keeping track, that’s 17.5+ hours of listening to made up words) so this was an incredibly daunting task. Chugging through everything took a lot of breaks, some encouragement from my advisor, and a considerable amount of ‘sound free time’ after everything was finished.
Since we were going with little to no example to work off of, I pretty much had free reign in determining how I wanted to go about tackling our data. Through a bit of trial and error, I discovered that the best method was to open each sound file (usually around 12-15 minutes long) in Praat (an acoustic analysis software), zoom in on a 60 second chunk (the largest length Praat will let you analyze at once) and listen to the bits of the clip containing the participant’s response. Luckily, most participants projected well enough that it was usually pretty easy to tell what part of the clip I needed to listen to. Unfortunately, nonce words like “pizadubifa” or “vazadutapi” usually don’t get articulated as clearly as real words, so some responses took two or more listens to make sure I was hearing the response correctly. This system ended up working pretty well for me and I kept record keeping simple – I wrote down each response using the sounds we had created our target words with (so it was sort of like an approximate phonetic system) so that we could go back to review data without needing to relisten to each sound file. Anything that seemed like metathesis was noted and the time location in the file was recorded for reference.
Needless to say, I’m glad this part of the process is over!