Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Thu Mar 26 14:51:38 UTC 2009

On Thu, Mar 26, 2009 at 10:27 AM, Mark Mandel <thnidu at> wrote:
> (
> >>>
> Reviewed in Journal of the International Phonetic Association 39:1
> Thomas E. Zurinskas, Analysis of the sounds (phonemes) of USA English (Truespel
> Book 1). Bloomington, IN: Authorhouse, 2004. Pp. x + 135. ISBN
> 1-4107-6629-2 (pbk)
> Kevin Watson
> <<<

Excerpted without comment...

"Although I agree with the sentiment of some of these points (my
students, for example, would testify that the IPA is quite difficult
to master), Truespel's rationale is weakened because the evidence used
in support of the main arguments is misrepresented and the complexity
of existing transcription systems is exaggerated. ... Overall, whilst
the Truespel enterprise is an interesting exercise, it is not
sophisticated enough to become the international medium for phonetic
transcription, as Zurinskas hoped. It seems clear that although
Truespel is based on a basically sound ‘ear for phonetics’, its lack
of engagement with the disciplines of phonetics and phonology is a
fundamental flaw. This point has not gone unnoticed in the phonetics
and phonology community, with Truespel being discussed on a number of
electronic mailing lists over the past few years. If phoneticians and
phonologists are to be convinced that Truespel is useful, the book
needed to provide a detailed, direct comparison between it and other
transcription systems, but such comparison is lacking. Indeed, the IPA
receives very little consideration at all. The book also needed to
take greater care to be academically rigorous. Where references to
external sources are provided, they are to websites rather than to
academic work, and even then they are misrepresented. This lack of
academic rigour means that the book is unlikely to be useful as a text
in university phonetics and phonology courses."

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

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