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Phonetics A Coursebook

Phonetics A Coursebook

Product Summery


This book details a fairly traditional view of articulatory phonetics, and some related aspects of phonology. Our focus throughout is on English phonetics, as English is the language of instruction, and the one with which all readers will therefore be familiar. Aspects of general phonetic theory are illustrated using examples from English, and supported by other languages where appropriate. We begin in Section 1 with a concentration on individual speech sounds, think about how sounds combine into words in Section 2, and finish in Section 3 with phenomena that occur when words are combined into longer stretches of speech.
The book is aimed at students with no prior knowledge of phonetics or linguistics; therefore, new terminology is emboldened and explained when it is first introduced. The book is suitable for first-year undergraduates studying subjects  such as linguistics or speech and language therapy, and may also be used for revision by more advanced students. It would certainly be possible for students to teach themselves a good deal of phonetics using this coursebook. However,  as phonetics is the study of speech, discussion with a tutor, who can demonstrate particular sounds and clarify any variant aspects of pronunciation, is sometimes recommended in the text. The book may also be used in class, with students working through the exercises either before or during contact hours. Whether used alone, with a tutor or in a class, the units should be attempted in order. Each unit builds on the last, and it is assumed that all previous units  have been completed at each stage.
The aim of this book is to encourage students to think for themselves in order to discover facts about phonetics. One of my favourite textbooks as a student was Rowntree’s Statistics without Tears: An Introduction for Non-mathematicians,  so I was very happy to be asked to produce something along similar lines for phonetics. The book is formed of a large number of exercises which involve saying words and phrases, transcribing written material or simply  thinking about particular issues. Exercises are there for students to discover particular aspects of phonetic content, and not simply to practise what has gone before in the text. This means that all the exercises within a unit should be  considered compulsory. Students should attempt each exercise in full before reading the comment section that follows. And, as the comment sections not only give answers to the exercises, but introduce new concepts and terminology,  they should also be read in full. At the end of each unit there are review questions and review exercises. These are optional, but allow students to measure their own progress. Answers to the review exercises are found at the back of the  book, while answers to the review questions can be checked by looking back through the relevant unit.
As in any textbook, there are a number of aspects that cannot be covered due to space limitations. In particular, this book is confined largely to articulatory rather than acoustic phonetics, because I have found that students seem better able  to grasp articulatory aspects first, and then to apply these to acoustics. Likewise, decisions have to be made about how to present certain elements, such as when to introduce slash and square brackets, and whether to use terms such as  ‘phonemic’ or ‘broad’ transcription. In every such case, I have relied on my teaching experience, and on the advice of my friends and colleagues, in order to present things in the clearest way for beginning students. I hope that this book will  stimulate students to enjoy phonetics and go on to further study in this exciting area. To this end, some ideas for further study are suggested in the resources section.