- Drama And Acting Classes
International Phonetic Alphabet
Imagine that you wanted to write a language in a way that anyone reading it would immediately know how each word is supposed to be pronounced. At first blush it seems like an uncomplicated task. Simply write out the words using the letter of the alphabet that corresponds with the sound the word makes. After all, that is why alphabets were invented in the first place.
If you dig deeper though, you will find that the task is more complex than was first thought. Consider English \”a\”. The same letter is used in \”stage\”, \”hall\” and \”sand\” but it represents a different sound in each word. Sometimes different letters even represent the same sound as is the case with the \”s\” in \”precise\” and the \”c\” in \”price\”. Even more \”phonetic\” languages like Spanish have the same problems. For example, the letter \”g\” in Spanish represents a different sound in \”guapo\” than it does in \”gente\”.
The International Phonetic Alphabet (or IPA) was developed to solve these and other problems. In the IPA, each symbol (which is similar in concept to a letter) represents only a single sound (known as a phoneme). If you break words and phrases down into their most basic sounds and then replace each sound with the corresponding symbol, you will have written the words in such a way that a reader will know exactly how the text should sound.
Using a conventional alphabet you can write words in a language that will be readable by the speakers of that
; however, you cannot guarantee that the readers will be pronouncing the words the same way you intended. \”Park the car in Harvard yard\” will be read and understood the same by an English speaker from the midwestern United States, one from Boston and one from England. Though, as you can imagine, if they were to read it aloud, the phrase would sound quite different for each speaker. These differences in pronunciation might not matter if you are simply writing something to be read silently, but, the differences become quite profound if, for instance, you are a playwright and it is very important that the sentence be read as if spoken with a southern drawl. Writers will often attempt to indicate the desired pronunciation by varying the spelling (e.g. \”Papaw\’s battree is daid.\” as an attempt to represent \”Papa\’s battery is dead\” in eastern Kentucky dialect). However, this is an imprecise rendering at best which can lead to different pronunciations by different people. If a pronunciation is written in IPA there will be no confusion as to how it should be pronounced.
In addition to being useful for indicating the dialect of a speaker, the International Phonetic Alphabet can help language learners determine the proper pronunciation of words. Many languages courses attempt to describe the sound of a letter in a foreign language by giving a close approximate in English. For instance, you might see something similar to \”like the \”a\” in \”father\” but more rounded\”. If the IPA symbols were given instead a learner who knows the basics of IPA will be able to identify the exact sounds that a given letter represents.
The examples can help people interested in linguistics, serve as an aid for people studying accents for acting and provide guidance for people singing songs written in foreign languages. The IPA is a valuable tool which allows a person to \”hear with their eyes\”, and is also a great tool for people interested in languages.
Aunes Oversettelser AS has been in the business for 26 years, and we are specialized in technical translations. We are specializing in the Nordic languages, and can offer services into Swedish, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian and Icelandic. The premier translation agency for Norway and the Nordic region! Technical translation services for businesses in the Nordic countries and translation agencies world wide.
Aunes Oversettelser AS
has been in the business for 26 years, and we are specialized in technical translations. We are specializing in the Nordic languages, and can offer services into Swedish, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian and Icelandic. The premier translation agency for Norway and the Nordic region! Technical translation services for businesses in the Nordic countries and translation agencies world wide.