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Systems for the Phonetic Transcription of English: Theory and Texts

In collaboration with Inmaculada Arboleda


Rafael Monroy Casas

This book covers in a systematic way the main systems of phonetic transcription currently used for English. Unlike other texts in the market, which focus on just one type of transcriptional model, the book provides theoretical information and full practice for all systems.
The material is divided into seven sections headed by a lengthy introduction to the history and development of the International Phonetic Alphabet. A set of eighteen samples from real contemporary colloquial English (British English), graded in terms of difficulty, follows. The accent chosen is the one known as RP or BBC English, with some minor concession to other regional varieties which do not stray dramatically from RP. Different models of representation are used under three main transcription systems: qualitative, quantitative and mixed. By using an identical set of texts in ordinary spelling for each system, the reader can constantly check different ways of transcribing a word or an utterance depending on the model used.


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Prologue 9


9Prologue It is well-known that phonology is a traditionally problematic area in the acquisition of the English language. The imbalance between spell- ing and pronunciation is so striking to many foreign learners of Eng- lish that it is a constant source of problems for them; even to native speakers one would be tempted to say, but while the latter have a constant resource to linguistic uses that society continuously creates and sanctions, serving as a permanent guideline to the individual, non-native speakers have to rely basically on textual, written infor- mation. The exposure to spoken language is much more fragmentary than in the case of native speakers, something which is aggravated by the existing gap between written and spoken English. In order to cir- cumvent such imbalance observed in English, and in varying degrees in other languages, the International Phonetic Association devised at the beginning of the 20th century a system of symbols known as the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). This system tried to bridge the gap between the oral and the written modes occurring in many languages by representing pronunciation fairly accurately in writing. In this book we deal with the main models of phonetic/phone- mic representation for English. To our knowledge, it is the only pub- lication that covers most of the transcriptional practices found in English (mainly British), and, as such, is a valid document of the evolution of transcription systems since the early 20th Century. What prompted us to write this book was the fact that,...

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