Analyzing the Sounds of Languages

Research Projects

Organizational Units

Journal Issue



This book is intended primarily as a textbook for LING 2051, Analyzing the sounds of languages, but can also be used for self study to learn the basics of quantitative methods and as an introduction to the statistical program R ( We introduce basic, yet often misunderstood, concepts of quantitative analysis and statistics, using real data taken from the field of linguistics, especially phonetics and phonology. We introduce questions, such as “Do Southerners really talk more slowly?” (Chapter 10), or “Why do we expect scholarly words to be longer than familiar words?” (Chapter 2) as a framework for introducing the numerical concepts required to answer research questions such as these. We believe that statistical methods should not be introduced in the absence of a research question and a solid understanding of the data, which is why we use real data and questions that are relevant to anyone who commands a spoken language. A good amount of space is also devoted to illustrating how to formulate and answer a research question, and hypothesis development and testing.
The media can be accessed at the links below.
Chapter 0, Introduction:
Chapter 0, Movie 1:
Chapter 0, Movie 2:
Chapter 0, Movie 3:
Chapter 0, Movie 4:
Chapter 1, Movie 1:


statistics, quantitative analysis, R, phonetics, phonology, language, linguistics, LING 2051


Smith, Bridget J., Beckman, Mary E., and Foltz, Anouschka (2016). Analyzing the sounds of languages. Ohio State University.