On Wed, Sep 23, 2009 at 1:04 PM, David Peterson <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> A visitor to my site pointed  me to the following link:

Thanks for that link. I've decided to finally try to learn a little
something about phonology, so I checked it out. The problem is, a
couple of the sounds make no sense at all to me.

FYI: I grew up with Michigan American English, spent my teen years in
Los Angeles, and the last 30 years in Oregon, if that helps identify
my dialect.

With that background, here are the problems:

The table lists the vowels in "hot, rock" as different from the vowels
in "arm, father". To me three of them (with the exception of "arm")
are the same. HOWEVER, in the footnote to "hot, rock" they say "In
AmE, they are one vowel, so calm and cot have the same vowel." BUT
"calm" and "cot" are distinctly different in my dialect, and "calm" is
nothing like "cot", "hot", or "rock", which are all the same.

In fact, "calm" is the same vowel as "call". Yet the table shows
"call, four" as the same sound, and they aren't even remotely similar
in my dialect. "four" is the "o" in "go, home", or "fore", "or',
"door", or "corn" for that matter.

The table also shows "arm, father" as the same vowel. Granted, they
are similar, but they are not really the same. "father" is spoken with
the mouth in a broader position.

Also the table shows "pure, tourist" as the same vowel, and they are
also not remotely similar. I've heard a lot of Californians speak
"tourist" and "tore" with the same vowel, but my "tourist, tore" are
not alike at all. My "tourist" is almost the first vowel in "sewer",
and my "pure" is more like "pyoor".

So given all those discrepancies between the way I speak and the way
the IPA chart describes "American English", how do I figure out what
symbols actually represent which sounds?