2009/11/25 Sam Stutter <[log in to unmask]>

> Um... sorry to be a list noob about this, but how does this phonetic script
> work?

We use the IPA here:
But since some people's mail clients still have difficulties with characters
outside the 7-bit ASCII range (or have trouble inputting IPA characters), it
is common to use the X-SAMPA representation (, or our own variant CXS (

> Is /e/ like "let", /ej/ like the Swedish "hej" and (I'm seriously guessing
> here) but are the others something more similar to certain dialects of North
> West England?

It depends: transcriptions between // are phone*m*ic representations of
sounds, i.e. they represent idealised phonemes which might have different
pronunciations in different contexts. To indicate actual sounds, one uses
the square brackets [], as Catherine did to indicate which sounds she felt
she was actually making.

> /ei/ something akin to "late" (pronounced more like "lay it") and E
> something akin to the lack of schwa in a word like "runner" or lack of /i:/
> in "runny": that is: "runneh"? More information; about 15 minutes into the
> latest episode of Top Gear where Jeremy Clarkson attempts to describe
> Worksop accent ("They're using Cosworth engines, or since they're from
> Sheffield: "Cosseh". That's "Cosseh", like you've had a stroke halfway
> through the word: "Cosseh", so your face just falls off").
It's actually difficult to use English to exemplify the vowels of the IPA,
because English vowels vary wildly between dialects and even idiolects, and
because English centralises unstressed vowels a lot, while it tends to
diphthongise stressed vowels. Usually one will have more luck using other
languages with "tamer" vowel systems (although those have their own pitfalls
as well).

As for the *ideal* pronunciations of [e] and [E], [e] is the vowel at the
end of the French word "année" [a'ne]: "year", while [E] is the more open
vowel of French word "sept" [sEt]: "seven". I'd actually expect the English
word "let" to have [E], but I could be wrong.
Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets.