Thoughts for serious language learners
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Should you care about phonetic transcrip­tions?

Today, nearly all good English dictionaries have audio recordings. If you can listen to any English word as it is pronounced by a native speaker, why should you care about phonetic transcriptions? My latest update gives a few good reasons.

I’ve also added a section that describes why you shouldn’t take phonetic transcriptions too seriously.


4 Comments so far ↓

  • Alexander

    hi, thank you, I love your web

    I make several card (anki), such as:

    Front: sound from (


    Back: Fonetics symbols

    I hear the soun, then I try determiner what symbol

    Do you think about?

    I’m begginer whole
    excuse me. I violate law about, first input again output now

  • Ivan

    Hi Tom,
    Recently, I have trouble pronouncing English :
    1. Clusters in such words like: prompt, insiSTS, talked, midst
    2. The last d consonants in: sound, bind, bond ….. (I have noticed when listening that native speakers hardly pronounce the complete d in fast speech. What about others in fast speech ??? I’m really confused.
    3. Do english-native speakers really pronounce fully every word (with no vowels or consonants missed) in everyday situations ????
    4. Do these two words TAB and TAP have the same sounds when spoken fast speech.

    • Tom

      Of course, in rapid speech, speakers will skip sounds or pronounce them differently. So “prompt” will often sound like “promt” (with just a hint of p), “insists” like “insiss”. Final consonants are often somewhat de-voiced (but not as much as in German or Polish), so “tab” may sound a bit like “tap”.

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