14 October 2014

Phonetic Notation

Languages, Part 6

Phonetic Notation

“Phonetic Notation” is a common way of representing the sound, or pronunciation, of words as they are spoken, both within languages and across different languages.

James Tweedie has kindly written a contribution to this course on this topic of Phonetic Notation (attached).

Above is the full chart of phonetic notation of the International Phonetic Association, taken from Wikipedia.

Although it is referred to in Wikipedia as an “alphabet”, this seems to “beg the question”, because if alphabets were truly phonetic, then a general, standardised system of phonetic notation would hardly be necessary. But in fact none of the alphabets are, or could possibly be, truly phonetic.

That is why we are calling this item “Phonetic Notation”, and not “alphabet”.

In the next item, we will introduce the idea of having a single, cross-language chart of phonetic notation for the eleven South African official languages.

The point being that practical steps can be taken that will make it more possible and easier to cross over between the official languages, but that this will have to be done from a general South African point of view. The appropriate vehicle for developing, maintaining and publishing such a chart should probably be PanSALB.

·        The above is to introduce the original reading-text: Phonetic Symbols, James Tweedie, August 2013.

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