Updated phonetic chart

Tom   Tuesday, February 03, 2004, 23:33 GMT
I've just posted an updated phonetic (IPA) chart:

The biggest changes are the footnotes and the "What this page actually presents" section. I've also updated some of the symbols.

I've also expanded the "Introduction to phonetic transcription" (previously "What is phonetic transcription?") page. For example, it now has a section dealing with the representation of American English in phonetic transcriptions in dictionaries.

Hopefully, the result is a more accurate picture of how phonetic transcription is used in modern dictionaries, what are its limitations, and what is its relation to the International Phonetic Alphabet.

I think the changes may be interesting to phonetics geeks and such (Jim, you there?).
Tom   Tuesday, February 03, 2004, 23:35 GMT
I forgot to add the link to the phonetic transcription article:
Phonetix Geek Jim   Tuesday, February 03, 2004, 23:52 GMT
You know I'm here, Tom. I'm going to have a look at your new chart now.
Alex   Saturday, February 07, 2004, 21:53 GMT
Sorry, if you will completely neglect Britisch English and rest upon American English only, then you should not have indicated British alternatives at all.

It seems to be too doubious, while indicating o in home, go as /ou/, since the main idea of American English is pure simplification; therefore, Merriam-Webster's 'A Pronouncing Dict. of American English' suggests /go/ and /hom/ only, what sounds quite consistent with the main idea of pure simplification (transformation or reduction of a diphthong to a simple vowel).

Another big idea is not simplification, but transformation of a diphthong to another diphtong, as an aim of economy in one's efforts in pronunciation. As indicated in Well's Pronunciation Dictionary, in these words /..u/ comes first, and /ou/ is at the second place due to that grand idea of transformation; during D. Jones' times, however, /ou/ was the norm that was transformed then to /..u/ in his 'English Pronouncing Dictionary' by A.C. Gimson, 14th edition.

I cannot see, why do you ignore a newer alternative with /..u/, since /ou/ seems to be an inadequate form or norm both in American and British English, -- to the above reasons --, too?
Tom   Sunday, February 08, 2004, 12:17 GMT
1. I know that some American sources use /go/ and /hom/, but dictionaries for learners do not. It is not my aim to present every single symbol someone has thought to be appropriate. (And by the way, /go/ and /hom/ would be misleading for English learners.)

2. The editors of the Collins COBUILD Dictionary thought /ou/ to be a better symbol, and I agree with them. Even the latest edition of the EPD says /ou/ might be a better symbol for British English.

Therefore, /ou/ is the best symbol for combined British-American transcription -- certainly better than /o/ or /..u/.

Since most British dictionaries continue to use /..u/, I included the /..u/ in the footnotes.
Alex_2   Sunday, February 08, 2004, 16:58 GMT
Dear Tom,

Thank you for your thorough explications. I did not mean to make any accusations of formal incorrectness, right in the sense as you explained.

The idea of my posting was that now about 50% of the BBC speakers do use /..u/ while the other some 50% still prefere the older (and more effort consuming) norm /ou/. As a result, many perfectly known dictionaries have re-written their trascriptions changing from /ou/ to /..u/, as an objective process IN PROGRESS. Also, I do not know any more authoritative dcitionaries than those by Wells/Longmann and Gimson/Oxford University Press, the both indicating first /..u/ and only then /ou/. The COBUILD dictionary enjoys obviously far less respect in phonetical issues than the both formerly indicated. I thought that your unique phonetic website would only be profiting while paying tribute to the actual and objective changes in English phonetics.
Tom   Monday, February 09, 2004, 16:18 GMT
According to EPD16 (Roach et al.), /..u/ is the TRADITIONAL form, while /ou/ is the more recent one.
Can you give examples of old dictionaries which use the /ou/ form?
Alex_2   Thursday, February 12, 2004, 21:18 GMT
Sorry, I cannot agree due to the reasons mentioned above. Phonetics develops from more effort comsumptive to less effort consumptive articulation movements, so from /ou/ to /..u/, but not vice versa. This idea has been supportive by the fact that all editions of the Jones previous to the 14. edition preferred /ou/ instead of /..u/.
Jim   Friday, February 13, 2004, 01:06 GMT
I think that a statement like "Phonetics develops from more effort comsumptive to less effort consumptive articulation movements," is an oversimplification. There are other factors at play.
Tom   Friday, February 13, 2004, 12:00 GMT
In any case, if we are to choose a common symbol to represent this sound in British and American English, /ou/ is the best choice.
Alex_2   Friday, February 13, 2004, 20:56 GMT
Phonetic Laws have much more power than any conventions, as in spelling and grammar, and need to be learned. "Other factors at play" or/and "the best choice" are too metaphisical to be a sort of scientific statements, norms, rules, laws or at least -- an explication: An unreasonable demagogy. Sorry to mention if the Jones is of no authority to you.

Again, if your speech organs remain unmoved and/or 'neutral' (schwa), it implies that they are in initial position. Then the tongue movement from this position to a back vowel position is less effort consumptive than the tongue movement from the schwa position to the first back vowel position [o] and then to the second back vowel position [u]. The "Principle of Economy", as deposed by A. Martinet, is one of the most impressive in phonetics. Ultimatively, most effort consumptive sounds, like [r] will have to die, if they are in abudantly excessive positions.