The International Phonetic Alphabet

This is a series of posts about the International Phonetic Alphabet. This is still a work in progress.

Introduction to the IPA

The IPA – Consonants – Place of Articulation

The IPA – Consonants – Manner of Articulation

The IPA – The Vowel Chart

The IPA – Non-pulmonic consonants

7 responses to “The International Phonetic Alphabet

  1. Pingback: The IPA: The Vowel Chart | linguischtick

  2. Pingback: The IPA: Introduction | linguischtick

  3. Pingback: The IPA: Consonants Part I – Place of Articulation | linguischtick

  4. Pingback: The IPA: Consonants Part II – Manner of Articulation | linguischtick

  5. RB

    Like your blog and comments a lot. Just the right amount of clarity and detail to clear up things others have written. Looking forward to more.

    So would the ultimate stenographer transcribe in IPA?

    Can the IPA symbols be fruitfully compared to musical notes or chords?


    • Thanks for the comment! I’m glad you enjoy the blog. I’m neither a stenographer nor a musician, but I’ll do my best to answer your questions.

      The goal of stenography, I think, is to transcribe as quickly as possible, and the IPA would not be practical for this. A full IPA transcription of a word would take much too long. It can sometimes take more than an hour to transcribe a sentence, if the details really matter to you, because you have to spend time analysing a spectrogram. Also, a fully phonetic representation of speech contains a lot of redundancies, which aren’t necessary for stenographers to transcribe. For example, we can pronounce “water” with a full /t/ as the middle consonant, or it can be reduced to a flap, but that phonetic difference is (I think) irrelevant for a stenographer. That being said, the shorthand used by stenographers is still somewhat phonetic, so knowledge of the IPA would probably still be useful, but I doubt it’s essential.

      As for comparing the IPA to music, I’m not really sure. Maybe? When I see an IPA symbol like /p/, that gives me information about the physical state of the articulators when someone is producing that sound (the lips are closed, no airflow, vocal folds stiff, etc.). It’s enough information that I could, in principle, accurately pronounce a word that I had only seen in IPA, but have never heard before.

      I suppose you could make a comparison if seeing a music note gives you unambiguous information about the sound wave you’re producing, or about the physical state of the performer (e.g. which keys are being pressed, which holes are being covered). Unfortunately, I don’t know enough about musical notation to really give you an informed answer.


  6. Pingback: The IPA: Non-pulmonic consonants | linʛuischtick

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