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So I decided I should finally get with the program and learn XSAMPA so
I can properly describe a new syllabary I'm working on. The problem
is, every resource I can find doesn't seem very complete from the
perspective of an English speaker with know prior knowledge of
phonology. For example, I've been through every XSAMPA chart I can
find looking for the vowel sound in the English words "lake", "rain",
"base", "fail", etc. It's a common enough sound, but I can find any
trace of it in the XSAMPA chart. From that I conclude that it must be
one of the many sounds for which they only give examples from French
and Urdu, assuming for some reason that I already know all about how
those other languages are pronounced. Either that or it one of those
they describe with alien-sounding words like "fricative" and "uvular".

If you detect a trace of frustration in my tone, it's because I can't
find anything on the Internet that talks about XSAMPA in plain English
that a non-linguist could understand. I see why language textbooks for
the general public never use IPA or SAMPA. Nobody but linguists
understands it. And they are, quite successfully, keeping it hidden
from the rest of us common folk!

Grrrrr!

--gary