British Dialects Book

Dennis R. Preston preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU
Sat Sep 21 13:04:47 UTC 2002

Matt's point is good, but even IPA-style dictionaries use a "broad
phonetic" transcription, not, I would claim, a phonemic one. What is
left out of a broad transcription is most often 1) predictable
(though often linguistically interesting) allophonic realizations of
a language (e.g., the nasalization of vowels in English occasioned by
a following nasal segment, a luxury not afforded the dictionary
treatment of languages with phonemic nasal vowels), 2) predictable
fast speech phenomena (e.g. let N = syllabic nasal: [NNnaepl at s] for
"Indianapolis," though some such processes result in "relexification"
["tater," "bout"]), 3) predictable dialect distributions (e.g., /E/
is realized as [I] in most South Midland and Southern US dialects).
Matt is right is suggesting such broad transcription is perhaps more
"phoneme-like" (since native speakers must supply these features),
but I would argue that, since they are guides to pronunciation, they
are still phonetic, however generalizing and undetailed they are.
Vowel devoicing in Japanese is a very interesting parallel. A word
like "atafuta" (hurriedly), for example, sounds like "atafta" to all
nonative speakers, but the mental representation allows (actually
demands, since codas and clusters are illegal) all native speakers to
supply the "missing" /u/ (although there are subtle phonetic clues
that something has been deleted). Since speakers of Japanese know
that both high vowels (/i/ and /u/) are likely to be devoiced when
they occur between two voiceless consonants and in an unstressed (or
"L" pitch-accent position), what should we put in the dictionary?
I would still like to claim that an entry such as "a.ta.fu.ta" is
broadly phonetic, but I understand Matt's temptation to call it


>Even assuming that Wendalyn meant phonemic *representations* and not
>pronunciations, I don't think the difference here is phonemic vs.
>Don't non-US dictionaries still use phonemic representations even if
>they use IPA for those representations? They don't represent
>allophonic differences (e.g., aspiration in English), do they?
>Anyway, is IPA used in British dictionaries? If so, why wouldn't
>Trudgill have used it in the first edition of his book. His audience
>was primarily Brits.
>>I don't understand what a phonemic (since it is a mental
>>representation) pronunciation is. Nobody ever pronounced a phoneme.
>>Chiming in late, due to posting problems: since IPA constitutes
>>"dictionary-style definitions" for pretty much the whole planet other than
>>the US, can we distinguish between "phonemic" (US-style) and "phonetic"
>>prons rather than assuming we're normative and the rest of the linguistic
>>world is abnormal?
>>Winking, but not n jest,
>>Wendalyn Nichols
>>At 05:41 AM 9/15/02 -0400, Frank Abate wrote:
>>In reply to what Sali says below, what makes linguists abnormal is that they
>>use IPA without complaint, AND want others to do the same.
>>Partly in jest,
>>Frank Abate
>>At 05:45 PM 9/14/2002 -0500, Matthew Gordon wrote:
>>>The second edition of Trudgill's book includes IPA as well as the
>>>dictionary-type respellings making it useful to linguists as well as
>>>normal people.
>>       I did not know linguistics made its practitioners abnormal! I once
>>heard this kind of distinction from the manager of an apartment building
>>where I stayed at the LSA Institute at UIUC (1999). He said that linguists
>>were only on my floor and a second one. All the other floors were occupied
>>by "normal people." I stared at him wondering what made linguists abnormal.
>Dennis R. Preston
>Professor of Linguistics
>Department of Linguistics and Languages
>740 Wells Hall A
>Michigan State University
>East Lansing, MI 48824-1027 USA
>Office - (517) 353-0740
>Fax - (517) 432-2736

Dennis R. Preston
Professor of Linguistics
Department of Linguistics and Languages
740 Wells Hall A
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824-1027 USA
Office - (517) 353-0740
Fax - (517) 432-2736

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