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The Phonetic Alphabet

Learn to transcribe spoken English using the International Phonetic Alphabet found in good dictionaries:

Self-correcting (interactive) tests to practise English vowel and consonant sounds

  1. Sounds and spelling - match the phonemic script with the corresponding English word

  2. Sounds and spelling - match the phoneme with the vowel sound in the first syllable of the word

  3. Sounds and spelling - select the consonant phoneme / θ / or / ð / contained within the word

  4. Sounds and spelling - select the consonant phoneme /ʃ/ , /ʧ/ or /ʤ/ contained within the word

  5. Sounds and spelling - match the vowel sound in the first syllable of the word with the phonemes / ɪ / , / i: / or / e /

  6. Sounds and spelling - identify whether the initial consonant sound of the word is / g / , / j / or the voiced postalveolar affricate / ʤ /

The study of phonetics

A Course in Phonetics by Peter Ladefoget [ 20th January 2014 ]
This book, originally published in 1975, has also been through several editions and is still acknowledged as the best course for university undergraduates seriously interested in articulatory phonetics.

Handbook of the International Phonetic Association: A Guide to the use of the International Phonetic Alphabet [6th April, 2001]
If you are looking towards a recognised qualification in both the practice and theory of phonetics, then the handbook will allow you to see the IPA Chart and will give you some idea of the number of sounds you will have to cover, including the bilabial click (a kissing sound which exists in several African languages, though not in English!). Likely candidates for the recognised public examination include linguists who are expected to be able to transcribe speech or speech therapists who are expected to have a thorough knowledge of speech organs and the methods of articulation.

The Cambridge Encyclopedia of The English Language by David Crystal [04/08/2003] - although only 20 pages out of over 450 pages are on the English sound system, they are very well written and illustrated. This encyclopedia provides an attractively presented overview which includes most of what a learner or teacher needs to know about the English language. It is especially useful if you are seeking clear definitions of terminology used in the description of language. David Crystal has made valuable contributions to applied linguistics ranging beyond the needs of English teachers & learners. His books have cast clarity on complex subjects such as the theory of intonation, investigating English style (e.g. occupational and social varieties), the description of language disability. He is equally readable in entertaining histories such as
The Stories of English [01/01/2006] and
The Story of English in 100 words [05/07/2012].

Speech Science Primer: Physiology, Acoustics, and Perception of Speech [22nd February, 2011]
Widely used in academic institutions where phonetics and phonology are taught alongside pathology and audiology.

Phonetics at University College London has been retructured and is now taught within the Speech, Hearing and Phonetic Sciences.

Educational resources for phonetics and phonology from University College London.

British, regional & international English accents and dialects

Gimson's Pronunciation of English [ 29th January, 2015 ]
Originally published in 1962 as "An introduction to the pronunciation of English", there has been nothing to better this course, which covers the production of speech, sounds in a language, the English vowel sounds and the English consonant sounds as well as social (e.g. Received Pronunciation), geographical (e.g. Regional Variations) and historical perspectives.

English Accents and Dialects: An Introduction To Social And Regional Varieties Of English In The British Isles - by Arthur Hughes and Peter Trudgill [13th September, 2013]
This book is most suited to students of sociolinguistics who wish to sample variations from "received pronunciation" within the geographical regions specified in the title. The level of analysis is for people with a background in linguistics. However, an actor or actress wishing to perfect their Lowland Scots, Devon or Dublin accent and to pick up some of the lexical items in a particular dialect, may find this a valuable source. There is an accompanying audio cassette.

International English: A Guide to Varieties of Standard English by Peter Trudgill and Jean Hannah [15th August, 2008]
This study takes English beyond the British Isles. Here the analysis focuses on variations from "received pronunciation" across Continents. "International English" covers the distinctive features of English in England, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Wales, the USA, Canada, Ireland, the West Indies, West Africa and India. Again, the work is probably most likely to appeal to students of sociolinguistics (language and society) at university level. However, this and the previous title make excellent background reading for any student undertaking stylistic analysis of any regional, social or occupational variety of English. Sixth formers in UK Secondary Schools are now continuously assessed on project work, which may include a study of the language of journalism (news reports), advertising, pop music, fashion, teenagers or other social groups. These projects are usually functionally based and adequate attention is usually given to language function and lexis. Further consideration could probably be extended to how phonetic & phonological features help to recognise the functions of professional and/or social registers. Some background in phonetics or phonology is really needed to get the most out of these works.


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