Literal-Minded

Linguistic commentary from a guy who takes things too literally

The Tiger and the Girl

Posted by Neal on March 18, 2009

Albert Wolfe from Laowai Chinese left a comment on the post about the Mission: Impossible III poem, and linked to a short panphonic story he’d written called “The Tiger and the Girl.” It goes like this:girlandtiger

The Tiger and the Girl
by Albert Wolfe

There once was a tiger living in China. Each year he took a ship to an island. He loved visiting the sheep on the beach. One day, after he ate a little sheep, a girl saw him. She said, “What in the world are you doing?” He said, “Because all the sheep are white, they are like toothpaste to me. I usually eat just one sheep every day to keep my teeth clean.” At that time, he took a step and a beige thorn went into the flesh of his paw. He roared. The pain was like fire. The girl was so afraid that she could barely breathe. But she bravely said, “When I need help, I always ask my mother. Would you like my mother to help you? She’s not far away.” The tiger agreed and went with the girl to her hometown. The daughter found her mother, who was a doctor, prancing and singing near a big hedge. She asked her mother to help her new friend that very hour. The mother told the tiger to lie down and be quiet. She pulled the thorn out of his lowered paw. Her husband, who was a lawyer and basketball player, gave the tiger a toy wristwatch. The tiger said, “Thanks a million for everything you’ve done recently.” “It was our pleasure,” replied the couple. And the tiger and the girl went off to take a cab to the zoo.

I wondered if Wolfe had succeeded any better than I had at getting all the allophones of all the phonemes in there, especially since he was not constrained by length, rhyme, and meter. It looks like he came pretty darn close. I’ve listed the phonemes their allophones below, with at least one word or phrase containing each if I was able to find one. Sometimes the same sound counts as an allophone of more than one phoneme; for example, [t] can be a realization of both /t/ and /d/. In such cases, I repeated the word(s) containing the allophone in both places in the list.

Consonants Vowels and Diphthongs
/p/
[pʰ] paw, toothpaste
[p] basketball, sheep

/b/
[p] basketball
[b] the beach, cab

/m/
[m] my, time,
[m syllabic] not found

/f/
[f] flesh, afraid

/v/
[v] visiting, of, every

/th/
[θ] thorn, everything, toothpaste

/ð/
[ð] there, the, mother, breathe

/t/
[tʰ] took, tiger
[t] step, doctor, just
[t dental] at that
[ʔ] basketball
[ɾ] visiting, ate a,
[tʃ] China, beach

/d/
[t] step, just, doctor
[d] said, the daughter
[d dental] replied the, afraid that
[ɾ] visiting, ate a,
[dʒ] just

/n/
[n] need, China, clean
[n dental] friend that, on the
[n syllabic] not found

̣/s/
[s] so, prancing, once

/z/
[z] zoo, was, visiting

/l/
[l] loved, island, flesh
[l voiceless] player, clean
[ɫ] girl, world
[ɫ dental] pulled the
[ɫ syllabic] little

/r/
[r] breathe, recently, year
[r voiceless] prancing
[r syllabic] girl, world, tiger

/ʃ/
[ʃ] sheep

/ʒ/
[ʒ] usually, beige, pleasure

/tʃ/
[tʃ] China, beach

/dʒ/
[dʒ] just, hedge

/j/
[j] you, million

/k/
[kʰ] clean, cab
[cʰ palatal] keep
[k] ask, doctor
[c] basketball

/g/
[k] doctor, ask
[g] the girl, tiger, big
[ɟ] getting

/ŋ/
[ŋ] thanks
[ɳ] singing

/w/
[w] world, away

/h/
[h] help

/æ/
[æ] after
[æː] cab
[̃æ] thanks, prancing

/e/
[eI] ate
[eI ː] day
[eI nasalː] pain

/ɛ/
[ɛ] flesh
[ɛː] said, help, every
[̃ɛː] went
[ɛ r-colored] there

/i/
[i] beach
[iː] need
[ĩ] clean

/I/
[I] ship, visit
[Iː] big
[Ĩ] -ing,
[I r-colored] year

/ʌ/
[ʌ] mother
[ʌː] loved
[̃ʌː] done, one

/ɐ/
[ɐ] watch, not
[ɐː] not found
[̃ɐː] not found
[ɐ r-colored] far

/ɔ/
[ɔ] off
[̃ɔː] paw
[ɔ nasalː] not found
[ɔ r-colored] thorn

/o/
[ou] not found
[ouː] told, so
[oũː] home

/u/
[u] toothpaste
[uː] zoo
[ũː] not found

/ʊ/
[ʊ] took
[ʊː] pulled

/au/
[au] out
[auː] hour
[aũː] town, down

/aI/
[aI] like
[aIː] I, fire
[aĨː] China

/oI/
[oI] not found
[oIː] toy
[oĨː] not found

The story is 240 words long, contains every phoneme, and of the all the allophones (that I know about) of these phonemes, he only misses syllabic [m] and [n], [ɐː, ɐː, ̃ɔː, ou, ũː, oI, oĨː]. I wonder how “The Tiger and the Girl” compares with the Speech Accent Archive elicitation paragraph, which (as you’ll no doubt recall) goes like this:

Please call Stella. Ask her to bring these things with her from the store: Six spoons of fresh snow peas, five thick slabs of blue cheese, and maybe a snack for her brother Bob. We also need a small plastic snake and a big toy frog for the kids. She can scoop these things into three red bags, and we will go meet her Wednesday at the train station.

I’ll leave it to enthusiastic readers to locate each allophone in these mere 69 words. I haven’t checked it, myself. I also haven’t checked my own panphonic creation of 59 words for the allophones I didn’t think about at the time I wrote it. For example, I know I didn’t try to work in both clear and dark /l/.

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2 Responses to “The Tiger and the Girl”

  1. Albert said

    Thanks for the feature and analysis. I’m quite impressed that I left so few allophones out! Of course, your poem had all the phonemes in far fewer words ;)

  2. [...] the English language. That’s right, it’s another panphonic text, like the grocery list, tiger story, or poem about a cruel friend that I’ve blogged about under this category. It comes from the [...]

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