Crash Course Linguistics 9 (Phonetics - Vowels)

What are we doing when we make sounds?

Week 9’s Crash Course Linguistics video continues to explore the sounds of language, focusing this time on vowels.

Topics include the features of vowels and the vowel space, as well introductions to IPA diacritics, suprasegmentals, and tone. This week's Thought Bubble provides a brief tour of vowel inventories in different languages.

For your convenience, here’s another link to the clickable IPA chart that we shared earlier.

This Crash Course Linguistics video, like others, provides a widely accessible general overview of the topic. If you’re looking for a more detailed resource to introduce this week’s terminology, check out Vowels and the IPA and Stress and Feet from The Ling Space. These videos have closed captions available in English, and the above link for vowels includes a brief written summary of the video.

Listen to the 39-minute Lingthusiasm episode Vowel Gymnastics for a fun, approachable discussion about “meat tube science,” the importance of tongues, and chain shifts in different varieties of English. This episode is available wherever you prefer to find podcasts, and a transcript is available here.

For basic practice with IPA vowel symbols, check out these Sporcle quizzes where users select IPA symbols from English orthography or vice versa, or this PurposeGames quiz where users place IPA symbols on a chart. If you’re introducing acoustic phonetics, see The Whole Spectrum, a 2008 exam problem used for International Linguistics Olympiad competitions in both Australia and North America that offers practice with spectrograms. Answers are available in the final two pages of this document.

Finally, see the Resource Guide we shared in the spring for more interactive charts, videos, and activities relevant to vowels in IPA, as well as a past newsletter with video, audio, and listicle resources about schwa.

Coming next week: resources about phonology!

Liz, Gretchen, and Lauren

About Mutual Intelligibility

Mutual Intelligibility is a project to connect linguistics instructors with online resources, especially as so much teaching is shifting quickly online due to current events. It's produced by Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch, with the support of our patrons on Lingthusiasm. Our editor is Liz McCullough.

Mutual Intelligibility posts will always remain free, but if you have a stable income and find that they’re reducing your stress and saving you time, we're able to fund these because of the Lingthusiasm Patreon and your contributions there.

For the 16 weeks of Crash Course Linguistics, Mutual Intelligibility will be sharing the video weekly, along with supporting resources. We will resume our regular link request and recommendations after the Crash Course Linguistics series. For more on how we usually operate, check out our about page.

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