Sunday, February 28, 2010

Interactive IPA

Hands up who loves the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet)? Maybe not many outside the phonetics and phonology specialisations. It probably isn't my favourite part of linguistics either. All those difficult names to remember related to teeth and lips, tongue and throat.

I am very jealous of people who are learning the IPA in the computer age. No more are linguistics students required to sit alone making absurd noises and imagining they can see clearly the difference between a close-mid front and an open-mid front vowel sound. It isn't that we can't all hear the difference, it is just that it is really hard to feel it. Newcomers to the IPA can now have clearly pronounced interactive charts that clearly show how the sounds are made and the differences between them.

I came across the first one looking at extra pages from O'Grady et al.'s "Contemporary Linguistics". I think they took the idea from Paul Meier and Eric Armstrong. All you have to do is click on a chart which offers explanations by pointing the mouse at the different terms. Then click on a phonetic symbol to hear how it sounds.

I found another version prepared by the good people in University of Victoria in Canada (but I couldn't get the sounds to work).

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