English Phonetic Transcription Tips [1]

August 7, 2017 | Author: Walid English | Category: Consonant, Semiotics, Phonology, Linguistics, Human Voice
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English Phonemic Transcription It is important to understand the difference between a narrow transcription and a broad one. The term narrow is applied to a transcription which contains a certain amount of phonetic detail: the narrower a transcription is, the more phonetic detail it contains and the more diacritic signs and special symbols it requires. This kind of transcription is a phonetic transcription and is placed between square brackets ( [...] ). A broad transcription shows an absence of phonetic detail. The broadest transcription contains only phonemes. It is referred to as a phonemic transcription and is written between slants ( /.../ ). In dictionaries (and in dictations) it is common usage to use a phonemic transcription with the added symbols for vowel length ( 9 ) , primary stress ( ! ) and secondary stress ( $ ), and the diacritic for syllabic consonants (as in mÿ and kÿ ). Transcription of consonants: English has the following consonant phonemes: Voiceless /p/ as in 'pea' /t/ as in 'tea' /k/ as in 'key'


Voiced /b/ as in 'bee' /d/ as in 'do' /g/ as in 'go' / m / as in 'map' /n/ as in 'nap' / M/ as in 'hang'



/f/ as in 'fat' / S/ as in 'thin' /s/ as in 'sip' / R/ as in 'ship' / g/ as in 'hat'


/sR/ as in 'chin'


liquids: glides:

/v/ as in 'vat' /C/ as in 'that' /z/ as in 'zip' /Y/ as in 'measure' /cY/ as in 'gym' /k/ as in 'led' /q/ as in 'red' /i/ as in 'yet' /w/ as in 'wet'

Some hints for transcribing consonants: p, b, t, d1, k, m, n, l, r, f2, v, z, h, w (1 except certain past and past part.- ending in (2 except in / Pu / )



The remaining consonant letters and the vowel letters have no unique sound value: letters




/ s, k / , always voiceless

ck g

/k/ / g, cY , Y / , always voiced

qu s

/ kw / / s / or / z /

cellar / s / club / k / access / ks / pick / k / get [ g ] age / cY / beige / Y / queen sign, basis, / s / please, realise / z /

/ Y / in some words of French origin / S / or / C /; All the function words (articles, prepositions, pronouns, adverbials) except through and thorough have a voiced th-sound / C /. A lot of content words have a voiceless th-sound / S /, especially in initial and final position. In median position is often voiced. / ks /


x 4.



with, thy, they, then / C / thee, there, though

thin, thigh, bath / S / /θ/ bath,youth but /ð/ in bathe, youths

mother, father / C / box / aPjr /

Relationship between .Y+R+cY+sR / phonemes and letters: .Y+R+cY+sR / phonemes and letters: phoneme



Y R cY sR

g, s sh, ti, ssi j, g, dg ch, tch, tu

beige, measure, vision / Y / fish, station, expression / R / judge, age /cY / teacher, butcher, nature / sR /

Plural-, genitive- and 3rd person singular ___s: cats, tips, kicks / r / after voiceless sounds /y / after voiced sounds pens, cars, songs /Hy /


measure, vision / Y / pleasure, leisure

after sibilants /r+y+R+tʃ, YS, dj/ kisses, dishes, boxes , searches, judges.

past- and past participle ___ed: / t / after voiceless sounds /c / after voiced sounds /Hc / after / d / and / t /

sipped, kicked sinned, followed mended, sorted

In British English (RP) an / r / is only transcribed in front of a vowel. Real,

Transcription of vowels: English has the following vowel phonemes: short vowels:

long vowels:


H as in 'pit' d as in 'pet' z as in 'pat' U as in 'cut' P as in 'pot' (US: @9) T as in 'put' ? as in 'potato', 'upper'

h9 as in 'key'

dH as in 'bay' `H as in 'buy' NH as in 'boy' ?T as in 'low' `T as in 'how' H? as in 'here' d? as in 'there' T? as in 'moor' 

@9 as in 'car' N9 as in 'core' t9 as in 'coo' 29 as in 'cur'

US: nT 

The phoneme / ? / can only occur in unstressed syllables.

Books with phonetic transcriptions: The English department has no single book with texts and their transcriptions. Although it is preferable to refer to the book: English Pronunciation in Use. However, it does not provide whole texts for transcription or already transcribed using the latest version of the IPA, the texts are very useful to practise transcribing. It is advised to use internet in order to find the following books: 1- Lecumberri, M. Luisa Garcia and John A. Maidment (2000): English Transcription Course, London: Arnold. (Available for free on internet in scribd.com/wanglais/documents) 2- Buck, Timothy (1968): Modern Phonetic Texts for foreign students of English. München: Hueber. To practise transcriptions of single words, you can always take a good dictionary like Oxford or Cambridge. FURTHER RESOURCES FOR TRANSCRIPTION: Abercrombie, D. (1964): English Phonetic Texts. London: Faber and Faber. O’Connor, J.D. (1948): New Phonetic Readings from Modern English Literature. Bibliotheca Anglicana, vol. 9. Berne: Franke. O’Connor, J.D. (1971): Advanced Phonetic Reader. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. O’Connor, J.D. (1973): Phonetic Drill Reader. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Tagliavini, Carlo 1968): Testi in trascrizione fonetica. Bologna: Riccardo Pàtron. Windsor, Lewis J. (1977): People Speaking: Phonetic Readings in Current English. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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