A Practical Introduction to Phonetics

By J. C. Catford | Go to book overview

Preface

It may be worth drawing attention to the fact that the title of this book is, designedly, "'A Practical Introduction to Phonetics'" and not "'An Introduction to Practical Phonetics'", for it is, indeed, an introduction to general, or theoretical, phonetics, though it proceeds towards that goal in a highly practical way.

Readers are introduced to the phonetic classification of the sounds of speech by means of a series of simple introspective experiments carried out inside their own vocal tracts, their own throats and mouths. By actually making sounds (very often silently) and attending to the muscular sensations that accompany their production one can discover how they are produced and learn how to describe and classify them.

At first sight 'making sounds silently' may appear contradictory, but, as Abercrombie ( 1967) has aptly pointed out, speech is 'audible gesture' and the principal aim of this book is to enable the reader to discover and to analyse the gestural aspect of speech (upon which most phonetic classification is based) and to bring it under conscious control. This must be done, to a large extent, in silence, since the auditory sensations of loud speech tend to mask the motor sensations, which are the perceptual accompaniment of the gestural aspect of speech.

That this kind of experimentation is an effective means of acquiring a knowledge of the categories and principles of general phonetics I know from personal experience, for this was precisely how I learned phonetics as a boy, without a teacher, eagerly reading Sweet Primer of Phonetics and constantly experimenting in my own vocal tract.

Although, as this reference to boyhood experience suggests, phonetics is a fascinating hobby for young people, it is primarily an indispensable tool for all those adults who have to work with language: students of linguistics, teachers and students of languages, teachers of the deaf, the hearing-impaired themselves who may be striving to acquire intelligible speech, actors, and many others. Armed with the understanding of the basic

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A Practical Introduction to Phonetics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Contents ix
  • List of Figures xii
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - Basic Components of Speech 11
  • 3 - Phonation: a Third Basic Component 36
  • 4 - Articulation: Stricture Types 62
  • 5 - Articulation: Locations 76
  • 6 - Co-Articulation and Sequence 103
  • 7 - Vowels: Introduction 123
  • 8 - The Cardinal Vowels (Cvs) 138
  • 9 - Prosodic Features 172
  • 10 - Sound-Systems of Languages 187
  • 11 - Review 217
  • For Further Reading 229
  • References 231
  • Appendix the International Phonetic Alphabet (Revised to 1989) 232
  • Index 235
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