Friday, 17 April 2009

Learning Method: IPA Dephonetisation & Asphonetisation

IPA made easy

(Lucky I still have something I wrote before the Easter Holidays. This is it!)

There is a saying, "As ye sow, so shall ye reap". This is all so true for everything you do in life, no matter you are trying to cook a delicious meal or learn up new vocabulary.

Luckily, there are sometimes short-cuts to learn something and I'm going to share with you my secrets of learning IPA.

Some of you might have heard me teaching this in the class already, but I would like to share with everybody here again, just in case I missed talking about it in class (so ask more questions and you will learn more).

The steps of learning IPA are actually pretty simple.

First, you need to learn how to write the alphabets.

Then, you need to remember one most simple example.

Eg. 'at' /æt/ and 'up' /ʌp/

Next, all you need to do is to apply a method that I invented, called 'Method of Dephonetisation', and that is simply to delete the non-relevant sound from the word and you will get the sound of the IPA.

The advantage of this method is, you don't need to remember the sounds of each IPA by itself, but you have a better reference from an example.

Since you can dephonetise a word, you can of course asphonetise it to form a larger word using 'Method of Asphonetisation'.

Many learners in Hong Kong can't say the word 'cat' properly. Now with the method of phonetisation, from 'at' to 'cat', all you need to do is to add a /k/ sound in front, thus /kæt/.

Now, let's try some examples:

What is the difference between 'bread' and 'brad'?

Bread /bred/ Brad /bræd/

Now, how do we pronounce them? For 'bread', because we can see the IPA /bred/ having 'red' /red/ inside, so all we need to do is /b/ + /red/.

For 'Brad', because the IPA /bræd/ has 'rad' /ræd/ inside, so all we need to do is /b/ + /ræd/.

If you are not comfortable with 'rad', you can trying the following step by step:

  1. start with 'at' /æt/, dephonetise /t/ => /æ/
  2. asphonetise /æ/ + /d/ => /æd/
  3. asphonetise /r/ + /æd/ => /ræd/
  4. asphonetise /b/ + /ræd/ => /bræd/
You can use these methods and expand to long words and still get perfect pronunciations. The key is just not to lose your sound in every step.

Enjoy your IPA!

To type IPA on your websites:

Coming soon: ...... Wait until I recover first......

Reply to comments & readers:

  1. Thanks for all your caring messages!