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Systems for the Phonetic Transcription of English: Theory and Texts

In collaboration with Inmaculada Arboleda

Series:

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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I. Phonetic transcription systems 13

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I. Phonetic transcription systems 14 15 1. Phonetic transcription: A brief overview When in 1888 the Association Phonétique Internationale (API) de- cided to unify the notational systems in use to represent the oral mode of languages, a long process culminated that goes back to the very moment a disjunction between spelling and pronunciation began to materialise. This mismatch, already present in the Greek as well as the Latin language, was more evident during the Renaissance when the consolidation of various European languages occurred. In the case of France and England, several attempts at reforming their spelling deficiencies (speech was not susceptible of reform) took place, at- tempts that crystallized during the 19th century in parallel with the great development that took place in disciplines such as phonetics, physiology and acoustical experimentation. It is during this century that Pitman and Ellis tried their hands at creating a universal alphabet to replace ordinary alphabets. They had a triple objective in their minds. In the first place, they intended to drastically reduce the pro- cesses of learning how to read; also they aimed to facilitate the acqui- sition of the English language by foreigners; and thirdly, they at- tempted to devise a valid system for the teaching of the mother tongue to the deaf and dumb. No doubt the most long-lasting fruits of the work of both authors have been Pitman’s invention of a short-hand system still in operation, the creation of an alphabet – The Phonotype (1876), – and the publication of phonetic...

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