November 4, 2019 4

Introduction to the International Phonetic Alphabet

Introduction to the International Phonetic Alphabet


Hey everybody welcome back! Thanks so much for joining us again. We will be talking about articulatory phonetics, and continuing the discussions. Articulatory phonetics is again the study of how speech sounds are produced in the vocal tract. In this video we will focus on how to navigate the international phonetic alphabet chart. If you haven’t already I would really
encourage you to look at two other videos first before you look at this one. A video on how linguists describe consonant sounds and how linguists describe vowel sounds because the criteria that linguists use for describing both of those sounds are really important for understanding how to navigate the international
phonetic alphabet. So why do we even need the IPA or the international phonetic alphabet you may ask. Well consider some other problems that
are inherent to the English writing system. The English writing system in its
current form is basically a hangover of old English. So you might have one letter that actually can be realized as a number of different sounds. Conversely you might have multiple sounds that could be encoded in just one letter. So that’s why we need the international phonetic alphabet. And it was devised as a way of introducing more one to one correspondence
between sounds and symbol。 So if you hear certain sound then you always write it with a certain simple And conversely, one simple always represents the same sound. So first let’s talk a bit about how to navigate the international
phonetic alphabet chart for consonants. Here you see the IPA chart for consonants with the sound used in English
highlighted. On the leftmost column we have the manners of articulation, while the topmost role represents the
places of articulation. Within each of the boxes IPA symbols representing voiceless sounds are placed to the left, and symbols representing voiced sounds are placed to the right. You may also notice that some boxes are empty with either white or gray space. If it’s gray space it actually means that those sounds judged anatomically impossible to produce whereas the boxes with just white space mean that there are no known languages that are attested to use that sound. Now let’s talk about the IPA chart for vowels. As you can see, only the monophthong vowels are represented here. In the vertical domain on this diagram represents vowel height, while the horizontal domain represents
vowel backness. Where pairs of symbols occur rounded vowels are represented on the right hand side while unrounded vowels are represented
on the left hand side. It is worth noting that the only rounded vowels used in North American English are all back vowels. Just a brief note on representing diphthong vowels. Remember that diphthongs involve two vowel qualities, so the diphthong [eɪ] (as in ‘face’ [feɪs]) starts out at [e] and ends at [ɪ]; [aɪ] (as in the word ‘lie’ [laɪ]) starts out at [a] and ends at [ɪ]; [aʊ] (as in the word ‘house’ [haʊs]) starts at [a] and ends at [ʊ], [oʊ] (as in word ‘row’ [roʊ]) starts out at [o] and ends at [ʊ]; and finally [ɔɪ] (as in word ‘boy’ [bɔɪ]) starts at [ɔ] and ends at [ɪ]. Alright. So what did we cover in this
video? we first talked about the need for the
international phonetic alphabet and then we talked about how to navigate
the IPA chart for consonants and vowels. Just a couple other resources you might be interested in. First do be sure to check out the other
videos on the criteria linguists use to describe
consonant sounds as well as a video for describing vowel sounds and also if you access the Site (enunciate.arts.ubc.ca) you can see an interactive IPA chart which will also give you links to
images of ultrasounds which show you exactly what your tongue and other articulators in the vocal tract are doing during the speech process as well as diagrams for the vocal tract
more generally. Well, that’s it for this video. Thanks
so much for watching!

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