View Poll Results: How fluent are you in IPA?
I did not know IPA existed 24 13.56%
I know of IPA but can't read it 100 56.50%
I can read IPA slowly and with some difficulty 30 16.95%
I can read IPA fluently 23 12.99%
Voters: 177. You may not vote on this poll

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  #51  
Old 02-03-2020, 01:47 AM
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I can read basic IPA fluently, but would have to look up all the extra aspirations and length markings most times.
  #52  
Old 02-03-2020, 02:49 AM
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I recall having a disagreement on this board a little while ago with someone who insisted that it is worth the time to learn IPA. I disagreed. Pretty much the only place I see it used it Wikipedia, so it isnt like I have an interest in learning the system just for one website.
Several mentions in this thread so far of IPA being used in Wikipedia. But no mention of this:

You don't have to learn IPA in order to understand it for the occasional word you want to pronounce. In most pages where IPA is used, you can hover the mouse over each individual IPA symbol to see an explanation of what sound the symbol represents. Example:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wikipedia: Beijing
Beijing (/ˌbeɪˈdʒɪŋ/ BAY-JING, /ˌbeɪˈʒɪŋ/ BAY-ZHING;[10][11] Mandarin pronunciation: [pi.tɕŋ] (listen), formerly romanized as Peking[12] (/ˌpiːˈkɪŋ/ PEE-KING),[11] is the capital of the People's Republic of China, . . .
If you hover the mouse pointer over the dʒ symbol in /ˌbeɪˈdʒɪŋ/ you will see:
Quote:
/dʒ/: 'j' as in 'jam'
  #53  
Old 02-03-2020, 03:45 AM
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One persons ignorant statement doesnt justify another persons ignorant statement.
No one said that it did. However, context matters and statements possibly made in response to insults may not be indicative of anything greater.
  #54  
Old 02-03-2020, 05:16 AM
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For Spanish yes.

For English not so well, but I often find it useful simply to see whether two vowels are the same, close or very different, and whether two consonants are the same or not (the two "th" sounds for example).
  #55  
Old 02-03-2020, 07:13 AM
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Originally Posted by thorny locust View Post
I voted that I'd heard of it but can't read it; but now I'm not sure I've even heard of it properly. I didn't recognize the acronym, but assumed from the description that I understood what it meant, and that I'd run into it; but I assumed that the dictionary version was the same thing, and I gather from this thread that it isn't.
Depends which dictionary. For example, the Oxford English Dictionary and Learner's Dictionary use it, while Webster's dictionary does not.
  #56  
Old 02-03-2020, 07:21 AM
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I picked "fluently" because in college linguistics class I was able to sight-read English paragraphs in IPA (although as others have said that doesn't come up that much as opposed to words). Given some practice I'd be able to pick it up again.

However, I don't even know how a lot of the symbols that are not used in English speech are supposed to sound, so I can't really sound them in my head whether they're in IPA or Latin.
  #57  
Old 02-03-2020, 07:53 AM
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I recall having a disagreement on this board a little while ago with someone who insisted that it is worth the time to learn IPA. I disagreed. Pretty much the only place I see it used it Wikipedia, so it isn’t like I have an interest in learning the system just for one website.
And man, does that bug the crap out of me. I get it. It's an improved system or whatever. But Wiki--please just use the standard pronunciation guide most of us learned in school.

Last edited by I Love Me, Vol. I; 02-03-2020 at 07:54 AM.
  #58  
Old 02-03-2020, 08:11 AM
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Annoyingly, I quoted posts and they're not showing up. Oh well.

I learned IPA as a kid just by looking words up in physical dictionaries, then learned it more by studying linguistics.

When using it on a board like this, it's useful as a disambiguation method. By that, I mean that occasionally you can just say "rhymes with" whatever, or something similar, and people will get what you mean. If they don't, and say so, then adding the IPA can be helpful, as can adding it from the start. It makes it clearer without asking others to know IPA to the level of a PhD in linguistics, which I don't have either, because IPA can be googled, same as any term people use that others don't understand.

Sometimes it's the only way to make it clear what sounds you're pronouncing because everyone has already disagreed about the rhymes and sounds like definitions. It's not ideal because not everyone knows IPA, but it's all there is left in those situations, and they come up fairly frequently on here where people with different dialects are discussing pronunciation.

Plus, it often comes up in discussions where a lot of people there are using IPA alongside rhymes and the like, and getting along fine, and then someone comes along and says "I don't know what you're talking about." Like if I went into an American football thread and demanded definitions of all the terms they were using.

The IPA that Ravenman posted is not the way people usually write in IPA on here, or in most places.
  #59  
Old 02-03-2020, 08:13 AM
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And man, does that bug the crap out of me. I get it. It's an improved system or whatever. But Wiki--please just use the standard pronunciation guide most of us learned in school.
It's an international site so it'd be a little odd if it defaulted to a system that only Americans (and only some of them) learned in school.
  #60  
Old 02-03-2020, 08:33 AM
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And man, does that bug the crap out of me. I get it. It's an improved system or whatever. But Wiki--please just use the standard pronunciation guide most of us learned in school.
There is no "standard pronunciation guide" that isn't I.P.A. Every dictionary has its own system. They don't agree with each other. And the systems used in the United States are different from the systems used outside the United States.

Plus, if you know the English alphabet already, and you are already able to use some kind of phonetic symbol system, the basic, common I.P.A. symbols should be easy to learn.

Let's start with this. These symbols mean exactly what you think they mean—

[p] [b] [k] [g] [t] [d] [f] [v] [h] [l] [m] [n] [r] [s] [z] [w]

These symbols are simple substitutions for sounds you're already familiar with—

[tʃ] [dʒ] [ʃ] [ʒ] [j] [θ] [] [u] [ʊ] [ɛ]

And these are symbols most people learned in school

[ə] [ŋ]

You're more than halfway there now.
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Last edited by Acsenray; 02-03-2020 at 08:34 AM.
  #61  
Old 02-03-2020, 08:47 AM
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The people who object to IPA remind me a lot of peepel hoo see no reezun to learn and yooze established English spelling, only in reverse.

The attitude in both cases seems to be "That's too hard to learn, I think everyone should just spell it out the way that comes natural, we'll all know what it means"

And in both cases what comes natural to you isn't going to be reliably self-explanatory to everyone else.

Yeah, in most cases I can parse out what you mean by "SHED-yool" or "ky-YOE-tee" but think of those threads about "hey folks do you pronounce Mary merry and marry the same way and if not how do you say 'em?" ... so with that in mind, you realize that if you write "aksh-you-werry" and I don't know if your version of "werry" is wɛri or wɛIri or what, we're going to be going around and around in circles.

Likewise if sumwun rites da wey dey siz thyngs but onfernchly da wey yeh siz thengs leets ter macon fear deevercolt gowen ... it's just easier if we can use a standardized system, reallly.

In the case of IPA, I don't judge you for not knowing it, because not enough people are exposed to it, but everyone should be exposed to it, it's not that hard to learn and it serves a really useful purpose.

Last edited by AHunter3; 02-03-2020 at 08:50 AM.
  #62  
Old 02-03-2020, 09:04 AM
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In the case of IPA, I don't judge you for not knowing it, ...
This is the crux of it for me. Not knowing something is perfectly normal. Its the hostility towards something unfamiliar that bothers me, especially a tool so useful and easy to learn.
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  #63  
Old 02-03-2020, 09:19 AM
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There is no "standard pronunciation guide" that isn't I.P.A. Every dictionary has its own system. They don't agree with each other. And the systems used in the United States are different from the systems used outside the United States.

Plus, if you know the English alphabet already, and you are already able to use some kind of phonetic symbol system, the basic, common I.P.A. symbols should be easy to learn.

Let's start with this. These symbols mean exactly what you think they mean—

[p] [b] [k] [g] [t] [d] [f] [v] [h] [l] [m] [n] [r] [s] [z] [w]

These symbols are simple substitutions for sounds you're already familiar with—

[tʃ] [dʒ] [ʃ] [ʒ] [j] [θ] [] [u] [ʊ] [ɛ]
Add these to this group — [] [ɪ] [ʊ] [ʌ] [eɪ] [aɪ] [oʊ] [ju] [aʊ] [ɔɪ]

Quote:
[ə] [ŋ]

You're more than halfway there now.
And then these are easy to understand if you know any Spanish, Italian, or German—

[a] [e] [i] [o] [u]

So for basic American English pronunciation, the only ones that take a little investigation to figure out, and they are also the most useful in discussing differences in English pronunciation. Minimal effort yields a lifetime of rewards —

[ɔ] [ɒ] [ɑ][ɚ] [ɝ] [ɜ]
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Last edited by Acsenray; 02-03-2020 at 09:19 AM.
  #64  
Old 02-03-2020, 12:55 PM
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Anyone made a beer joke? We have? Okay, I'll see myself out.
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  #65  
Old 02-03-2020, 01:12 PM
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I like words and languages, so I use IPA all the time. And I still have to look up symbols frequently (hell, I've got a chart on my bookmarks bar so I won't have to go hunting). Especially the vowels.
  #66  
Old 02-03-2020, 01:23 PM
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Plus, if you know the English alphabet already, and you are already able to use some kind of phonetic symbol system, the basic, common I.P.A. symbols should be easy to learn.
SHOULD BE, maybe, but to me they're not.

I'd love to learn IPA, to be able to understand and maybe even participate in threads about the cot/caught and Mary/marry/merry mergers or skedjul vs shedyule, but in years of trying I have never been able to "get" IPA. I see symbols such as [tʃ] [dʒ] [ʃ] [ʒ] [j] [θ] [] [u] [ʊ] [ɛ] and my brain just freezes up. To me, they look like gobbledygook, and after literally years of trying, they still look like gobbledygook. (And I certainly never learned [ə] or [ŋ] in school.)

I'm good at puzzles, I've shopped enough at the Russian grocery to learn to sound out Cyrillic, and I want to learn IPA, and I am no where close to halfway there.
  #67  
Old 02-03-2020, 01:46 PM
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(And I certainly never learned [ə] or [ŋ] in school.)
C'mon, you had to have learned the schwa.
  #68  
Old 02-03-2020, 02:01 PM
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I self-taught myself IPA from linguistics books when I was in intermediate school, having wandered into that topic area starting from JRR Tolkien's notes.

The IPA is the only practical way to discuss pronunciation in a written format. Here is a table from an online dictionary mapping IPA symbols to several common English dialects. It's no different than learning specialized notation when learning mathematics or music or circuit diagrams. If you're not interested in a particular field of higher learning, fine, that's your choice. (For example, I'm not going to learn guitar chord notation.) But people who are, are going to use the jargon and notation of the field when they talk about it--because that's the practical way to discuss it.

Helpful people may be willing to explain things at a general-education level, but it's always going to be idiosyncratic because any such explanation is going to be non-standard. The standard is the specialized notation.
  #69  
Old 02-03-2020, 03:07 PM
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SHOULD BE, maybe, but to me they're not.

I'd love to learn IPA, to be able to understand and maybe even participate in threads about the cot/caught and Mary/marry/merry mergers or skedjul vs shedyule, but in years of trying I have never been able to "get" IPA. I see symbols such as [tʃ] [dʒ] [ʃ] [ʒ] [j] [θ] [] [u] [ʊ] [ɛ] and my brain just freezes up. To me, they look like gobbledygook, and after literally years of trying, they still look like gobbledygook. (And I certainly never learned [ə] or [ŋ] in school.)

I'm good at puzzles, I've shopped enough at the Russian grocery to learn to sound out Cyrillic, and I want to learn IPA, and I am no where close to halfway there.
Maybe you could benefit from personalized instruction. If you really are interested, I'd be happy to try to help. PM me.
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  #70  
Old 02-03-2020, 03:36 PM
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SHOULD BE, maybe, but to me they're not.

I'd love to learn IPA, to be able to understand and maybe even participate in threads about the cot/caught and Mary/marry/merry mergers or skedjul vs shedyule, but in years of trying I have never been able to "get" IPA. I see symbols such as [tʃ] [dʒ] [ʃ] [ʒ] [j] [θ] [] [u] [ʊ] [ɛ] and my brain just freezes up. To me, they look like gobbledygook...
*nods* I sympathize. I play the piano and all my life music teachers and other musicians have told me I should be able to look at stuff like this and just hear it in my head and my fingers just go to the right places when I'm looking at it. Doesn't happen; looks like a flock of crows on telephone wires, although I can painstakingly decipher it.

I don't know why IPA "speaks to me" but it does. Within weeks of being introduced to it, I could read it at speaking speed, plus or minus, although admittedly not as fast as I can read printed English. And I don't have to think about what symbols to use to write a spoken word, I just know. (Unless it's an odd unusual sound within a word, at least).
  #71  
Old 02-03-2020, 04:02 PM
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SHOULD BE, maybe, but to me they're not.

I'd love to learn IPA, to be able to understand and maybe even participate in threads about the cot/caught and Mary/marry/merry mergers or skedjul vs shedyule, but in years of trying I have never been able to "get" IPA. I see symbols such as [tʃ] [dʒ] [ʃ] [ʒ] [j] [θ] [] [u] [ʊ] [ɛ] and my brain just freezes up. To me, they look like gobbledygook, and after literally years of trying, they still look like gobbledygook. (And I certainly never learned [ə] or [ŋ] in school.)

I'm good at puzzles, I've shopped enough at the Russian grocery to learn to sound out Cyrillic, and I want to learn IPA, and I am no where close to halfway there.
Some consonants are easy: /b/, /d/, /f/, /g/, /h/, /k/, /l/, /m/, /n/, /p/, /s/, /t/, /v/, /w/, /z/ are pronounced like the American letters they look like.

The rest are pulled from other languages:
/j/ looks like a German "j" and is pronounced like an American "y" as in yawn.
/ɹ/ looks like an upside-down "r" and is pronounced like an American "r" as in run.
/ʃ/ looks like a vertically stretched "s" and is pronounced like an American "sh" as in sure.
/ʒ/ looks like a cursive "z" and is pronounced like an American "zh" as in azure.
/tʃ/ is the combination of two sounds (think about the word tchotchke) which when combined are pronounced like an American "ch" as in churn.
/dʒ/ is the combination of two sounds (think about the word djinni) which when combined are pronounced like an American "j" as in jury.
/θ/ looks like a Greek theta and is pronounced like an American "th" in thigh.
// looks like an Old English eth and is pronounced like an American "th" in thy.
/ŋ/ looks like an "n" with a descender like a "g" and is pronounced like an American "ng" as in singer. Compare /sɪŋəɹ/ to /fɪŋgəɹ/ finger, which also has a /g/.

The vowels are a lot more difficult, especially because there's wide variation in many words of the pronunciation of their vowels. Most IPA vowel symbols are reversed or upside-down or other variation of the traditional five vowel letters: "a", "e", "i", "o", "u". As a crude guess, which vowel it's most similar to is what it sounds similar to. But there's no substitute for a skilled speaker or sound snippets to know for sure.

Try to find "minimal pairs" for close sounds to help distinguish them. For example, thigh vs thy differ only in the initial sound to help with /θ/ vs //. Or, wood vs wooed for /ʊ/ vs /u/.
  #72  
Old 02-03-2020, 04:03 PM
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Originally Posted by AHunter3 View Post
I play the piano and all my life music teachers and other musicians have told me I should be able to look at stuff like this and just hear it in my head and my fingers just go to the right places when I'm looking at it.
I think your music teachers were a bit demanding of you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by slash2k
I'd love to learn IPA, to be able to understand and maybe even participate in threads about the cot/caught and Mary/marry/merry mergers or skedjul vs shedyule, but in years of trying I have never been able to "get" IPA. I see symbols such as [tʃ] [dʒ] [ʃ] [ʒ] [j] [θ] [] [u] [ʊ] [ɛ] and my brain just freezes up. To me, they look like gobbledygook, and after literally years of trying, they still look like gobbledygook. (And I certainly never learned [ə] or [ŋ] in school.)
If you're picking up Cyrllic, it's about the same level of difficulty for the basic symbols, so I know you can do it. For some of your letters, maybe it'll help how I remember them:

ʃ = "sh" It kind of looks like a funny, elongated "s," so I just think of it as a "modified s" or "sh"

tʃ = So what happens when you put a "t" sound in front of an "sh." That's all this one is, literally t+sh, which is what is normally represented as "ch" in English (or sometimes as "tch.")

ʒ = Simlar to the "modified s" this looks like a "modified z" to me, so it's a sound sometimes marked as "zh" in pronunciation dictionaries. Thing the sound in the middle of "treasure."

dʒ = This is d+zh. What happens when you ram these sounds together? You get a "j" as in "judge."

θ = If you know math or Greek, you've probably come across "theta." That's the unvoiced "th" sound as in "math."

= This is the voiced "th." I happen to know this from Old English, where it also represents a "th" sound, so this might not help you here. In IPA, this is the voiced "th" sound as in "this."

And so on. These symbols are not so far away from letters you already know, and especially if you are learning Cyrillic and how to sound it out succesfully, I bet you can find a way to pick up the basics of IPA. It's a similar level of difficulty for the basic stuff.
  #73  
Old 02-03-2020, 04:13 PM
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This thread looks like it has turned into an encrypted message.
  #74  
Old 02-03-2020, 04:13 PM
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dʒ = This is d+zh. What happens when you ram these sounds together? You get a "j" as in "judge."
Or more memorably, the "dg" in judge is /dʒ/.
  #75  
Old 02-03-2020, 04:16 PM
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This thread looks like it has turned into an encrypted message.
Not encrypted, but an encoded message.
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Old 02-03-2020, 04:20 PM
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I have a M. Ed. in curriculum and instruction with a focus in Reading, and I never heard of IPA before today. It's not taught any of the schools of education or curricula I've had experience with.
Some here say it's easy; others disagree. Easy for some, very difficult for others. Just like everything.
Unless it becomes a standard used in Elementary reading, I don't think I'd need it.

As for English spelling and pronunciation, you don't simplify an ancient and extensive system without a massive outlay of time and money.
  #77  
Old 02-03-2020, 05:15 PM
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Reason: I took a linguistics course (post-bac) and that was one of the things that was taught and we needed to know for the test.

It comes in very useful for trying to explain or understand what something should sound like (/a/ or /ɑ/ is clearer than "'a' as in 'pajama'"). It's also really helpful when I've tried to learn foreign languages; looking something up in IPA can really quickly clear up what the teacher is trying to get me to do vs. what I'm doing ("Oh! You mean '/ɨ/.' Not sure I can do that.")
  #78  
Old 02-03-2020, 05:35 PM
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Or more memorably, the "dg" in judge is /dʒ/.
Heh. Funny how you just ninja'd me with some similar explanations. I was going to add the other letters, but I had to run out to pick up the kids and you beat me to it, anyway.
  #79  
Old 02-03-2020, 05:59 PM
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But Wiki--please just use the standard pronunciation guide most of us learned in school.
The question there is, which "standard" guide do you mean? I'm curious. How do you notate "short a" as in "cat" and "long a" as in "hay." Between grammar school and high school, the dictionaries I used had at least three different ways to notate each of those sounds. For me, what I learned in phonics class in first grade was "ă" was "short a" and "ā" was long a, but I've since discovered that is hardly universal.

Last edited by pulykamell; 02-03-2020 at 06:00 PM.
  #80  
Old 02-03-2020, 07:23 PM
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/θ/ looks like a Greek theta and is pronounced like an American "th" in thigh.
Now I'm humming that song by esidisi.
  #81  
Old 02-03-2020, 08:57 PM
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As for English spelling and pronunciation, you don't simplify an ancient and extensive system without a massive outlay of time and money.
Who is talking about "simplifying" English spelling and pronunciation? The I.P.A. is merely a tool for (relatively) unambiguously transcribing pronunciation, indispensable when pronunciation is the subject under discussion.
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  #82  
Old 02-03-2020, 10:57 PM
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I read it pretty well, only the clicks get me.
  #83  
Old 02-04-2020, 03:27 AM
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C'mon, you had to have learned the schwa.
I think I was in a college French class before I ever heard the term. I seem to have come through primary school at an awkward time, just at the tail end of the sight-reading era and before phonics gained widespread use in reading education. I don't remember much time being spent on the sounds of letters at all. The shapes of letters we had to practice, but the sounds I don't think got so much attention.

That meant that for example I had a pretty advanced reading vocabulary for a kid, but I didn't know what the words sounded like, and I stumbled badly trying to read aloud (and also became very frustrated when a later teacher would tell me to "sound it out"--I struggled for a long time on how I was supposed to do that).

I think that may be part of why, when confronted by the IPA, I still get frustrated. Intellectually I know I should be able to memorize what each symbol sounds like, e.g., but there's just some mental block. Why I can remember that Cyrillic Ш sounds like "sh" but freeze up when confronted with ʃ is a mystery, but so it is. I have tried various mnemonic tricks, and tried sitting down to memorize the list of the most common IPA symbols, and then the next time I run into IPA (usually in an SDMB thread ), I get rattled all over again and have to start from scratch.
  #84  
Old 02-04-2020, 04:09 AM
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If limited to Western phonetics, I can read it quite fluently.
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Old 02-04-2020, 08:15 AM
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Caught, cot, dawn, don, they all sound the same to my ear. If you type in IPA, you might as well be typing in Cyrillic.
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Old 02-04-2020, 08:16 AM
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Caught, cot, dawn, don, they all sound the same to my ear.
That's exactly why I.P.A. is useful. Because they don't sound the same to everyone.
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Old 02-04-2020, 08:28 AM
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That's exactly why I.P.A. is useful. Because they don't sound the same to everyone.
As I, and someone else said, I'd have an easier time trying to learn Cyrillic. I just can't bother putting in the time and effort. I'd rather drink an IPA. If you think that makes me an ignorant lugabout, I'll tip a glass to ya'.
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Old 02-04-2020, 08:57 AM
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As I, and someone else said, I'd have an easier time trying to learn Cyrillic.
Why would you have an easier time?

See, this is not about IPA and its not about your ability to learn. Its about this attitude that you have chosen to adopt and add to this some kind of macho posturing. Its an anti-education, pro-ignorance attitude, which is worse than just not knowing something.
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Old 02-04-2020, 09:38 AM
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That's exactly why I.P.A. is useful. Because they don't sound the same to everyone.
If they sound the same to you, you'll use the characters which reflect that.
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Old 02-04-2020, 09:44 AM
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If they sound the same to you, you'll use the characters which reflect that.
Exactly.
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Old 02-04-2020, 10:11 AM
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I've known about IPA for years but I've never felt that I would derive enough benefit to justify the effort in learning it. Yes, it's the best way of transcribing pronunciation but, if I have doubts about how a word is pronounced, I still want to hear it spoken by an authoritative source.
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Nope, and never intend to learn. It annoys me when people bring out the stupid symbols rather than using standard letters to emphasise the difference they're talking about.
Man, I just DO NOT understand sentiments like this. How would you use "standard letters" to, say, demonstrate how a person from London or Liverpool pronounces "bath"? Or how a Dutch speaker pronounces "Amsterdam" or how an Italian speaker pronounces "Venezia"?
Please use IPA to demonstrate those three pronunciations. Also, given that you do not understand sentiments like these, what steps are you taking to understand?

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Caught, cot, dawn, don, they all sound the same to my ear.
That's exactly why I.P.A. is useful. Because they don't sound the same to everyone.
Please use IPA to demonstrate how those words don't sound the same to everyone.
Also, why do you write "I.P.A."? The International Phonetic Association uses "IPA", as does the Wikipedia article.
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Old 02-04-2020, 10:19 AM
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That's exactly why I.P.A. is useful. Because they don't sound the same to everyone.
But I cannot appreciate a difference. Maybe it's my hearing disability, but just like Cochrane, caught and cot sound identical as do dawn and don and all the other examples people use. How would I be any better off learning pronunciations I'm already fine with?

I'm not anti-education. When my daughter learned the ASL alphabet I encouraged her to continue learning. It eventually became useful now that she is a nurse.
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Old 02-04-2020, 11:20 AM
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But I cannot appreciate a difference. Maybe it's my hearing disability, but just like Cochrane, caught and cot sound identical as do dawn and don and all the other examples people use. How would I be any better off learning pronunciations I'm already fine with?
I'm the same. I cannot hear the difference between caught /kɔt/ and cot /kɑt/. (There's sound clips at those links.) This is common among those in the caught-cot merger area, where we pronounce both words as /kɑt/. But, the utility of IPA is that I can notate the difference even without being able to pronounce or hear it.

Just like even though don't have a good pitch sense, I can read music notation and know the difference between the notes.
  #94  
Old 02-04-2020, 11:41 AM
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I'm the same. I cannot hear the difference between caught /kɔt/ and cot /kɑt/. (There's sound clips at those links.) This is common among those in the caught-cot merger area, where we pronounce both words as /kɑt/. But, the utility of IPA is that I can notate the difference even without being able to pronounce or hear it.

Just like even though don't have a good pitch sense, I can read music notation and know the difference between the notes.
Here's an audio sample of me pronouncing both "caught" and "cot." My Chicago accent actually exaggerates the difference quite a bit. The sound in "cot" is fronted towards an /a/ or // rather than the /ɔ/ of other accents. (And the "Shih-CAW-go" vs "Shih-CAH-go" at the end demonstrates two pronunciations of the city here. The "Superfans" accent will do the latter, with an even more fronted and exaggerated "AH" sound, and locals will argue that my first pronunciation of "Chicago" is the "true" Chicago accent. Others [from my neighborhood on the Southwest Side] will argue the second pronunciation is the "true" Chicago pronunciation. The truth is, in my estimation, that there are multiple "Chicago" accents in the city, and my theory is the Irish neighborhoods were more likely to use the first, and the Slavic neighborhood the latter. But that's just the base of a personal hypothesis.)

Last edited by pulykamell; 02-04-2020 at 11:44 AM.
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Old 02-04-2020, 11:43 AM
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that take a little investigation to figure out, and they are also the most useful in discussing differences in English pronunciation. Minimal effort yields a lifetime of rewards
I expect that's true if you spend a lot of time discussing differences in English pronunciation.

And I understand that some people find this fascinating, and do indeed spend a lot of time discussing it. But for a lot of other people, the subject very rarely comes up; and when it does they give it a glance and move on. So those people aren't going to get 'a lifetime of rewards'; they might get a few minutes' worth of rewards, for something that might take them many hours to learn.

I find it really interesting that people do find minor differences in pronunciation fascinating. And I find it interesting that people who think 'cot' and 'caught' are pronounced differently, and people who think that they're pronounced the same, generally manage to understand each other anyway. But I'm not all that interested in the pronunciation differences themselves. Mileage, obviously, varies.
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Old 02-04-2020, 11:50 AM
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Here's an audio sample of me pronouncing both "caught" and "cot." My Chicago accent actually exaggerates the difference quite a bit. The sound in "cot" is fronted towards an /a/ or // rather than the /ɔ/
Dammit, wrong cut-and-paste symbols. My "o" as in "cot" is more like an /a/-// rather than /ɑ/ and my "aw" as in "caught" is more towards /ɒ/ rather than /ɔ/. Luckily, this was very helpful for me in Hungarian, where "a" is an /ɒ/ sound and "" is an /a/ sound.

Last edited by pulykamell; 02-04-2020 at 11:52 AM.
  #97  
Old 02-04-2020, 11:56 AM
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Springfield Public Schools District 186 gave a half-assed effort to teach it to me in elementary school, considering it was 1978 and if you wanted to learn about a word, you had to look at a dictionary printed with ink on paper. About all I remember from it is the schwa.

One thing I did not know about the IPA is how fanatically devoted to it some of its users are, as evidenced by several SDMB threads I've read wherein pronunciation is an issue.
  #98  
Old 02-04-2020, 11:56 AM
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The For those of you who have, what was your reason to learn?
General interest in linguistics and phonetics. I used to read reference books as a kid, and I remember often seeing an alphabet comparison chart in many dictionaries. A typical one would list the Roman, Cyrillic, Greek, Hebrew, and Arabic alphabets side by side with letter names and very rough non-IPA descriptions of the sounds of those letters. There were a lot of letter descriptions that seemed really odd to an English-speaking kid -- what does "soft sign" mean?" And why does one letter sound like "shch" and not two or more letters? And why is Hebrew aleph transliterated as an apostrophe instead of a regular letter of the Roman alphabet? And what is a "glottal stop" anyway?

Digging into those mysteries -- and many more besides -- led me to eventually pick up IPA.

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How long did it take?
I picked up IPA along the way to learning other linguistic concepts, as opposed to dedicating myself to master IPA over a definite time period. From first exposure to IPA (circa 5th grade) to feeling fluent (straight As in college phonetics course) was probably something like 8 or 9 years. But that was not 8-9 years of consistent concentrated study. I learned 95% of what I know about IPA in probably less than six months.

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What method did you use to learn and how fluent would you consider yourself in IPA?
Once I started college, I was looking around at the various foreign-language dictionaries in the library's reference section (non-lending) and I found this book -- The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language by British linguist (tell me that guy didn't step right out of casting ). And I devoured that book over a few weeks, eventually purchasing my own copy from the campus bookstore so that I could read it and consult it conveniently whenever I wanted. From that book, I got my foundations in IPA that would serve me well in my Phonetics course (and some others in my Linguistics minor) two years later.

Briefly: the best thing about learning IPA via Crystal's book is that I was learning the anatomical foundations of speech sounds at the same time I was connecting those sounds to IPA symbols. The book had all I needed except live sound samples -- I could flip back and forth between sections to connect symbol to anatomical process as my curiosity required.

I studied (superficially) French, Russian, and Spanish and that helped fill in a few phonetic-knowledge gaps ... though I regret never even approached spoken fluency in any of those languages. And I can only read enough in those languages to get myself in trouble

I consider myself almost completely fluent in IPA. I know what the full set of consonant and vowel symbols stand for, even the click consonants. I know the tone symbols, and I know a healthy number of secondary articulation symbols as well. Some secondary articulation symbols do lead me back to consulting references or Googling ... there are still many I don't know by heart.

.

Last edited by bordelond; 02-04-2020 at 11:57 AM. Reason: punctuation
  #99  
Old 02-04-2020, 11:58 AM
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Why would you have an “easier time”?

See, this is not about IPA and it’s not about your ability to learn. It’s about this attitude that you have chosen to adopt and add to this some kind of macho posturing. It’s an anti-education, pro-ignorance attitude, which is worse than just not knowing something.
Fascinating how you think you can characterize me. Thing is, I only have enough room in my brain for things that I need to know every day. I'm not posturing and I'm not anti-education or pro-ignorance. It's just not something I need to know to get through my day. Just like reading Cyrillic. Or your opinion of my attitude. Cheerio.

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One thing I did not know about the IPA is how fanatically devoted to it some of its users are, as evidenced by several SDMB threads I've read wherein pronunciation is an issue.
Gee, I wonder who could be like that in this thread? No one is that judgmental.

Last edited by cochrane; 02-04-2020 at 12:02 PM.
  #100  
Old 02-04-2020, 12:21 PM
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One thing I did not know about the IPA is how fanatically devoted to it some of its users are, as evidenced by several SDMB threads I've read wherein pronunciation is an issue.
It's amazing how devoted some people are to their exponentials and integrals and other weird notations when mathematics is under discussion.

And talk about fanatics going on about time signatures and keys and staffs when music composition is being considered.

It's almost like specialized topics need to be notated in specialized ways.
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