8. The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA)

     Note: Make sure that you have the Lucida Sans Unicode font installed in your computer so that the IPA symbols will display correctly.

     Up until recently, the Kenyon & Knott (KK) phonetic symbols were widely taught in Taiwan schools to indicate how to pronounce an English word. Knowing KK is a definite advantage, since this system is basically a subset of the IPA, International Phonetic Association/Alphabet ڭ system. If you don't know KK, then you will need to learn IPA from scratch for this class, which actually shouldn't be too difficult, but it will require some practice.

      If you do already know KK, you will need to pay special attention to the IPA symbols for sounds that are transcribed differently than in KK The most important differences are:

     (1) the KK [o] is written [oʊ] in IPA; this clearly shows that the sound is a diphthong, i.e. composed of two vowels and not just one;

     (2) similarly, the KK [e] is written [eɪ] in IPA; this is a diphthong that Taiwan speakers of English are notorious for pronouncing wrong, often as a monophthong, either a short [æ] or [ɛ];

     (3) the KK [r] is written [ɹ] in IPA;

     (4) the American tap, as in the sound written with 't' in 'water' is written with a 'fishhook' symbol [ɾ], and not [t].

     (5) Final "-y" is transcribed as a long /i/, NOT a short /ɪ/!

     We will learn about other differences as we go along. Note that we will be learning one style of IPA transcription; the symbols chosen can and do in fact vary from language to language and textbook to textbook.

IPA fonts, Ethnologue, and more

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