Re: Why incomplete subscript/superscript alphabet ?

From: Hans Åberg <>
Date: Tue, 11 Oct 2016 00:05:20 +0200

> On 10 Oct 2016, at 23:39, Doug Ewell <> wrote:
> Hans Åberg wrote:
>>>>> What do you mean? The IPA in narrow transcription is intended to
>>>>> provide as detailed a description as a human mind can manage of
>>>>> sounds.
>>>> It is designed for phonemic transcriptions, cf.,
>>> It *was* designed, in 1870-something. Try reading the Handbook of the
>>> IPA. It contains many samples of languages transcribed both in a
>>> broad phonemic transcription appropriate for the language, and in a
>>> narrow phonetic transcription which should allow a competent
>>> phonetician to produce an understandable and reasonably accurate
>>> rendition of the passage.
>> But the alveolar clicks requires an extension.
> You've found ONE instance of non-distorted speech where IPA does not
> distinguish between two allophones. That is very different from saying
> that IPA is unsuitable for phonetic transcription.

There are others, for example, in Dutch, the letter "v" and in "van" is pronounced in dialects in continuous variations between [f] and [v] depending on the timing of the fricative and the following vowel. It has become popular in some dictionaries to use [d] in the AmE where the BrE uses [t], but when listening, it sounds more like a [t] drawn towards [d]. The Merriam-Webster dictionary has its own system trying to capture variations.

One does not really speak separate consonants and vowels, but they slide over and adapt. Describing that is pretty tricky.
Received on Mon Oct 10 2016 - 17:05:40 CDT

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