Today's newsletter is our first Resource Guide, and it's for teaching the consonants of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), a classic intro linguistics course topic, with a few resources for the IPA in general.
Most intro classes we've encountered start with consonants rather than vowels, since what's going on in the mouth for, say, /p/ is more concrete and easy to describe than, say, /a/. We'll get to IPA vowels in next Friday's Resource Guide. (Put your email below to make sure you don’t miss it.)
Why this topic is useful
The International Phonetic Alphabet is sort of like the Periodic Table of the Elements for linguistics, or at least for phonetics — when we're talking about spoken languages, it's useful to be able to convey precisely and unambiguously in writing exactly which sounds we're talking about, even when people may have different accents, dialects, or pet spelling conventions.
Interactive IPA Chart
A free, web-based IPA chart. Each symbol is clickable and plays the corresponding phoneme. Good for an introduction to IPA or phonology in general.
IPA Lab Audio Illustrations
A far more detailed and complete IPA chart showing more phonemes and diacritics with detailed descriptions at the bottom of the screen for each symbol you click on. This would be good for a more complete and technical look at phonology and the IPA.
OSU Interactive IPA Chart
6 separate interactive IPA charts for specific phonemes found in these major world languages: Chinese, English, Indian, Korean, Spanish, Turkish.
rtMRI IPA charts
Each clickable phoneme or word corresponds to an MRI of someone’s oral and nasal cavities while they say that phoneme/word.
Videos & Podcasts
Explanations & Demonstrations
Essential of Linguistics: 2.6 Classifying Consonants
A short technical video about consonants with mini-quiz below; dry but informative. Length: 7m45s. Captions: human-edited.
NativLang: IPA for Language Learning - Consonants
A short animated video with a simple and fun but accurate description of IPA consonants short animated video. Good for an introduction to IPA consonants. Length: 5m43s. Captions: auto
The Ling Space: Places and Manner of Articulation
A mid-length video with charts and an on-screen demonstration. Good for introduction to phonology. Length: 11m31s. Captions: human-edited.
TheTrevTutor: Consonants: Place of Articulation, Manner of Articulation, Voicing
A detailed and structured video about the phonology of consonants that’s heavy on terminology and diagrams. Good for a more in-depth look at phonology terms and concepts. Length: 24m04s. Captions: auto.
Narrow Subjects & Interesting Facts
The Art of Language Invention, Episode 21: Ejectives and Implosives
A short explanation and demonstration of implosive consonants. May be of interest to English-speaking students who have rarely, if ever, heard these before. Length: 7m32s total; timestamped at implosive section - section 4m40s. Captions: auto.
Vox: Why some Asian accents swap Ls and Rs in English
A less technical but professional, detailed look at a common question about speakers of Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese, and Korean who learn English as a second language. Includes an interview with Eleanor Lawson about using ultrasound to study phonology. Length: 8m56s. Captions: human-edited.
NativLang: Weird Phonemes - pronouncing the world's rarest sounds
A short animated crash course in phonemes (almost all consonants) that English speakers are likely unfamiliar with. Length: 5m54s. Captions: human-edited.
Podcast: Lingthusiasm Episode 6: All the sounds in all the languages - The International Phonetic Alphabet
Section: Origin of the IPA symbols (9:16-11:50)
Section: Format of the IPA consonant table and mouth position (16:18-19:45)
Making Flaps Vibrate In Your Throat: Voicing
This Tom Scott video is an explanation of voicing only, but it's short and very engaging. Length: 3m18s. Captions: human-edited.
The Language Sounds That Could Exist, But Don't
This Tom Scott video is a nice introduction to the IPA chart as a whole and the grey "articulations judged impossible" area. Length: 6m30s. Captions: human-edited.
TypeIt: IPA Phonetic Symbols
An easy-to-use website that lets you easily type IPA symbols (either full IPA or language-specific subsets) into a text box, which you can then copy-paste elsewhere as needed.
How to Type the IPA on your phone (iOS or Android)
Several good free IPA phone keyboard options, reviewed.
Two blog posts on teaching IPA transcription in the digital age from Angus Grieve-Smith, who addresses the problem of not being able to have students repeat back their transcriptions to check if they're accurately representing their own dialects (as many profs do in a face-to-face class) by instead having students transcribe based on other, linkable audio clips, such as the YouTube Accent Tag challenge and asking students to record audio files of themselves reading IPA transcriptions.
Introducing the IPA: quizzes
The first batch of quizzes are all about consonants. For the Phonetic Symbols quizzes (#2-4), you match the IPA consonant symbol with the appropriate word.
Unfortunately, the Sound/Symbol Recognition quizzes (#5-8) don’t work as well (they require a Quicktime plugin which may not be available on all devices, especially if students are stuck on phones rather than laptops).
If you want students to learn names of symbols (e.g. eth, theta), Phonetic Symbols (#9) may also be useful.
IPA Quiz: Consonants (Sporcle)
Given a word in English, match the indicated part of the word with the correct IPA consonant symbol. Pretty basic but accurate; good for wrapping up an introduction of IPA.
IPA Bingo Game Card [Downloadable PDF]
A downloadable PDF with 100 different IPA symbol Bingo cards. Could be used with a video link class as a low-stakes "quiz".
In other news
This edition we are pleased to introduce Kate Whitcomb, who also runs the blog The Layman's Linguist, as Mutual Intelligibility's Resource Guides contributor. Reaching out to other people for help is how we're going to get through this.
See you on Monday for 3 Links about 2nd year Phonology, and stay tuned for next Friday's Resource Guide on IPA Vowels.
Lauren, Gretchen, Kate, and the currently-expanding Mutual Intelligibility team.
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, and our Resource Guides contributor is Kate Whitcomb (The Layman's Linguist). Further team members to be announced shortly.
The newsletter consists of 3 Links on a topic on Mondays and Wednesdays and longer Resource Guides on Fridays, both of which are free and 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 enable us to fund more guides, more quickly.
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This Resource Guide was created by Mutual Intelligibility and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.