TRANSCRIBING ENGLISH

Preface
Many of you holding this book may not need to be convinced of the importance and
usefulness of phonemic transcription in language learning. If you happen to be among the
happy uninitiated or are just reluctant to deal formally with pronunciation, I would simply say
that transcription is to a language learner what musical notation is to a musician. For all its
limitations, it is the best tool we have to show to the eye what is addressed to the ear alone,
thereby enabling us to separate our perception of sounds from their orthographic
representation. Granted, in the same way that a score tells you nothing about how to play an
instrument, a transcription in itself cannot teach you to articulate a sound or, for that matter,
to acquire new habit patterns for speaking. That is in fact the business of educational
phonetics, not the real purpose of phonemic transcription. What a transcription can do is to
serve as a visual tool to raise awareness of pronunciation, whether it be to improve your own
performance or for teaching purposes.
This book is obviously not intended for beginners, nor, need I say, for those learners
whose sole interest is to make themselves understood in English. The latter need have no
more than the knowledge of phonemic symbols necessary to be able to check the
pronunciation of unfamiliar words in the dictionary. This book has been written primarily for
intermediate and advanced learners of English, for undergraduates intending to pursue a
career in teaching English as a foreign language and for practising teachers of English. It is
hoped, however, that anyone interested in English pronunciation may also find it of value.
While the book is no substitute for a pronunciation course, it provides the minimum
coverage of phonetics and phonology required to understand phonemic transcription. It
supplements an English pronunciation course by dealing with the transcription of high-
frequency words that are somehow troublesome to the foreign student, especially due to the
awkward (though certainly not unsystematic) relationship between sound and spelling. In this
respect, the importance of knowing the spelling patterns for each phoneme cannot be
underestimated, since, for better or worse, the student will always tend to use spelling as a
predictor for pronunciation. For this reason, this book covers the phonemic inventory of
English by focusing not only on the purely phonological and phonetic aspects of each vowel
and consonant, but also on its spelling patterns, including unusual and one-off spellings. The
tests in each section have been designed so as to encourage learners both to reflect on the
transcription of words they already know and to make informed guesses at the pronunciation
of those they do not know.
Given the nature of this book, the choice of a pronunciation model and a transcription
system has been made on the basis of wide acceptance among scholars and teachers
concerned with the teaching of British English. The accent used as a model for transcription
is Received Pronunciation – or Standard Southern British, as some prefer to call it – and the
transcription scheme used is very similar to that employed by J. C. Wells in his Longman
Pronunciation Dictionary (2008; 1st and 2nd edns 1990, 2000) and by Roach, Hartman and
Setter in their three editions of Daniel Jones’s English Pronouncing Dictionary (2006; 15th
and 16th edns 1997, 2003).
The book consists of four chapters. Chapter 1 introduces some of the main concepts of
phonetics and English phonology, such as the difference between phonetic and phonemic
transcription and the distinction between rhotic and non-rhotic accents. Chapters 2 and 3 deal
with the transcription of vowels and consonants respectively, and both include a number of
practice tests on each category of phonemes (most of them zeroing in on tricky phonemic
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contrasts, like /æ, ??, ?/ and /s, z/), on features of connected speech (like elision and
epenthesis) and on the use of the strong and weak forms of structural words. Finally, Chapter
4 concentrates on how to stress words in isolation and in the stream of speech. Besides
providing practice at word and sentence level, this chapter also contains ten passages
designed to develop students’ skills in transcribing longer stretches of discourse.
The Answer Key at the end of the book provides the correct answers to the questions and
exercises, as well as suggested model transcriptions for the passages in Chapter 4. This is
followed by a brief Reference section listing the sources cited throughout the book and some
suggestions for further reading and reference.
Antonio Lillo
X


Contents
Symbols used in this book
Preface
Acknowledgements

Chapter 1
The basics

Spelling and pronunciation ..................................................................................
Phonemic and phonetic transcription ..................................................................
Phonemes and allophones ...................................................................................
Accent and dialect ...............................................................................................
Model accents ......................................................................................................

Chapter 2
The transcription of vowels

The English vowel system ...................................................................................
Strong and weak vowels ......................................................................................
Before getting started ..........................................................................................
The front vowels /i?, ?, e/ ....................................................................................
Test 1: /i?, ?, e/
The symbol /i/ ......................................................................................................
Test 2: /i?, ?, i/
The front vowel /æ/, the back vowel /??/ and the central vowel /?/ .................
Test 3: /æ, ??, ?/
The back vowels /?, ??/ .......................................................................................
Test 4: /?, ?/ ~ Test 5: /?, ??/
The back vowels /?, u?/ ......................................................................................
Test 6: /?, u?, ?/
The symbol /u/ ....................................................................................................
Test 7: /u?, u/
The central vowel /??/ ..........................................................................................
Test 8: /??, ??, ??/
The central vowel /?/ ...........................................................................................
Variation between /?/ and /?/ ~ Syllabicity: schwa and syllabic consonants ~
Test 9: /?, ?/ and syllabic consonants
The English diphthongs .......................................................................................
Common mispronunciations
The closing diphthongs ........................................................................................
Test 10: /a?, e?, ??, a?, ??/
The centring diphthongs ......................................................................................
Test 11: /??, e?, ??/
Diphthongs + /?/ ..................................................................................................
Test 12: /a??, e??, ???, a??, ???/


2.16 The transcription of function words .................................................................... 81
A short guide to the use of strong and weak forms ~ Test 13: Strong and weak forms
Chapter 3
The transcription of consonants
The English consonant system ............................................................................ 97
The lighter side of spelling .................................................................................. 100
The English plosives ...................................................................................................... 100
Test 14: /p, b, t, d, k, g/ ~ The pronunciation of the ‘-ed’ ending ~
Test 15: The ‘-ed’ ending ~ Plosive elision and epenthesis ~
Test 16: Elision and epenthesis
3.4 The English fricatives .......................................................................................... 122
Test 17: /f, v, ?, ð, s, z, ?, ?, h/ ~
The pronunciation of the ‘-(e)s’ ending ~ Test 18: The ‘-(e)s’ ending ~
Test 19: /s, z/
3.5 The English affricates .......................................................................................... 140
Yod-coalescence as a source of word-internal /?/ and /?/ ~
Elision of the plosive portion of /?/ and /?/ ~ Test 20: /?, ?/
3.6 The English nasals .......................................................................................................... 148
Regressive assimilation as a source of word-internal /m/ and /?/ ~
Test 21: /m, n, ?/
3.7 The English approximants (1): liquids ................................................................ 153
R-liaison ~ Test 22: /l, r/
3.8 The English approximants (2): semivowels ........................................................ 157
The concept of ‘semivowel’ ~ Test 23: /j, w/

Chapter 4
The transcription of written texts

Stress ....................................................................................................................
Stress-timing and isochrony
Predicting stress placement in non-compound words .........................................
Common stress patterns ~ Test 24: Stress in non-compound words
Predicting stress placement in compounds .........................................................
The thirteen men rule ~ Test 25: Stress in compounds
Sentence stress .....................................................................................................
Final tips and reminders for transcribing from written texts ..............................
Passages for transcription

Answer key .................................................................................................................. 197
References .................................................................................................................... 227
Works cited ~ Further reading and reference

Colección
ESTUDIOS INGLESES
Materia
INGLES
Idioma
  • Castellano
EAN
9788490450062
ISBN
978-84-9045-006-2
Depósito legal
GR. 3307/2012
Páginas
248
Ancho
17 cm
Alto
24 cm
Edición
2
Fecha publicación
04-02-2013
Número en la colección
17

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