Basic Alphabet

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Basic Alphabet

Unread postby MissChesney » 13 Nov 2009, 22:17

Can anybody give me more than the obvious answers for why the basic English alphabet is bad to use when teaching phonetics. I know it's a silly question but I've gone blank!
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Re: Basic Alphabet

Unread postby ICAL_Pete » 14 Nov 2009, 11:45

Because many letters of the English alphabet correspond to several different sounds and combinations of letters are no guarantee of set pronunciation.

Take the letter A for example. It can be 'long' when we say CAR (in the IPA this is shown like this: a:) or it can be 'short' when we say HAT (in the IPA it's shown like this: ae).

And famously the combination OUGH can be said in many different ways:

- ROUGH 'ruff'
- THROUGH 'ooo'
- THOUGH -'o'

and so on.

If you're teaching pronunciation you should use the IPA as then there is no ambiguity about how a word is pronounced.

A basic IPA of English is here: http://icalweb.com/wiki/index.php?title=IPA
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Re: Basic Alphabet

Unread postby Peter Easton » 15 Nov 2009, 13:09

Pete, are you Australian? I’m from the UK and I would change

your [ɑɪ] in ‘pie’ to [aɪ].
your [ʊə] in ‘pore’ to [ɔː]
your [e] in ‘bet’ to [ɛ]
your [eə] ‘hair’ to [ɛə]
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Re: Basic Alphabet

Unread postby ICAL_Pete » 15 Nov 2009, 14:09

Peter Easton wrote:Pete, are you Australian? I’m from the UK and I would change

your [ɑɪ] in ‘pie’ to [aɪ].
your [ʊə] in ‘pore’ to [ɔː]
your [e] in ‘bet’ to [ɛ]
your [eə] ‘hair’ to [ɛə]


That's very interesting, Peter. I don't know who made the original IPA chart we used but I've just taken another look at it following on from what you've said.

What I've done is clarify the chart as British English and made a few changes of symbols.

The comment you made about 'pore' is an interesting one. I personally say [pɔː] as I think you do, but my mother who is from Derbyshire says [pʊə].
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Re: Basic Alphabet

Unread postby Peter Easton » 16 Nov 2009, 02:58

Yes, it's a bit of a minefield because there are so many variations and combinations of vowels just in the UK alone.

Another interesting feature is the rhotic 'r' [ɹ] as in pronouncing the 'r' in 'water'. It is the biggest difference between the British and American accent. The rhotic 'r' is only found in Scotland, Ireland and the West Country but four hundred years ago it was common almost everywhere; hence its prevalence in the US and Canada today. E.g. [ɜ:] bird (UK) and [ɝ] bird (US).
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Re: Basic Alphabet

Unread postby BenjiMing » 13 Sep 2012, 08:19

Sorry, I'm about 3 years late to this conversation. Wouldn't pronunciation be easier if there was just a couple accents and not hundreds?!
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