Today's newsletter is our second Resource Guide, and it's for teaching the vowels of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), a classic intro linguistics course topic, with a few resources for working with the IPA in general. This guide is a companion to Introduction to IPA Consonants (Resource Guide 1).
Most intro classes we've encountered will include suprasegmentals and other phonetic features in the same week as vowels, but this worksheet is focused on vowels. Next Friday's Resource Guide will be about introducing morphemes.
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 different sounds, it's useful to be able to convey precisely and unambiguously in writing exactly which one we're talking about, even when people may have different accents, dialects, or pet spelling conventions. Vowels in particular require particular attention because they are more of gradient than categorical phenomena.
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 phonetics in general.
UBC Enunciate: Vowels - On the IPA vowel chart, clicking on each symbol least to its identification (height, backness, roundness), a list of some languages in which it occurs, and an animated video of its production alongside another video of a human speaker pronouncing it with the corresponding MRI footage superimposed over the speaker.
OSU Interactive IPA Chart - 6 separate interactive IPA charts for specific phonemes found in these major world languages: Chinese, English, Indian, Korean, Spanish, Turkish.
IPA Lab Audio Illustrations - A highly 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 the IPA.
Videos & Podcasts
Explanations & Demonstrations
Essential of Linguistics: 2.7 Classifying Vowels
A short technical, lecture-style video about vowels with mini-quiz below; dry but informative. Length: 4m39s. Captions: human-edited.
NativLang: IPA for Language Learning - Vowels
A short animated video with a simple and fun but accurate description of IPA vowels. Good for an introduction to IPA consonants. Length: 2m46s. Captions: automatically generated.
LanguageStory: Sound Check: Phonetics Part 2
A detailed and engaging breakdown of IPA vowel symbols and characteristics starting at 1m34s, followed by a similar explanation of consonants. Check out Phonetics Part 1 for a short but informative introduction to the subject. Length: 9m23s. Captions: automatically generated.
The Ling Space: Vowels and the IPA
A mid-length video with charts and an on-screen demonstration. Good for introduction to phonology. Length: 8m48s. Captions: human-edited.
TheTrevTutor: Vowels: Production and Transcription
A detailed and structured video about the phonology of vowels that’s heavy on terminology and diagrams. Good for a more in-depth look at phonology terms and concepts. Length: 17m35s. Captions: automatically generated.
Lingthusiasm Podcast Episode 17: Vowel Gymnastics
Section (3:35-5:42): Vowel sounds on a continuum with examples, describing how the IPA vowel chart “fits” in the mouth. Transcript for the whole episode available.
Pronunciation Tutorial 3: English Vowels and the International Phonetic Alphabet
A video describing each vowel in the English language and classifying them according to the IPA vowel chart. Informative but geared towards teaching English pronunciation. Length: 14m28s. Captions: human-edited.
Related Subjects & Interesting Facts
ArticulatoryIPA YouTube Playlist
A collection of animations and ultrasounds that depict people pronouncing various phonemes. Captions: we're not exactly sure how one would caption this.
Essential of Linguistics: 2.8 Diphthongs
A short technical video about diphthongs with mini-quiz below; dry but informative. Length: 3m00s. Captions: human-edited.
Aaron Alon: What If English Were Phonetically Consistent?
A fun look at the relationship of English spelling to its phonology, mostly focused on the (in)consistency of our vowels. Breaks each vowel grapheme down into the different IPA symbols it’s likely to represent in English. Length: 4m05s. Captions: auto.
NativLang: Intro to Phonology: Consonants & Vowels
A short animated explanation of phonology in general. Length: 3m30s. 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.
Introducing the IPA: quizzes
Third batch of quizzes: Phonetic Symbols & Mnemonic Words (#1,4,5) - good review of vowel phonemes where you match the IPA symbol to the right word. Phonetic Symbols & Their Names (#2,3) could be helpful if identifying the symbols by name is part of the curriculum. (Sound Recognition (#6) has technical issues.)
IPA Vowel Identification Quiz & IPA Vowel Identification II (Sporcle)
In the first quiz, you are given words with capitalized vowel sounds and asked to identify the correct IPA symbol. In the second quiz, you are given words and asked to identify the correct IPA symbol for each word’s nucleus. Good for a basic review of IPA vowels in English.
IPA Vowel Chart Quiz (PurposeGames)
Given a blank IPA vowel chart, place each IPA symbol on the correct spot based on its articulatory features.
Pink Trombone - An interactive diagram of the oral and nasal cavities that lets you drag the tongue around to simulate how people pronounce different vowel sounds.
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.
The Journal of the IPA accepted articles written in IPA from the late 1800s all the way up until 1971.
Via May Helena Plumb
In other news
See you on Monday for 3 Links about semantics, and stay tuned for next Friday's Resource Guide on morphemes.
Kate, Lauren, Gretchen and Liz.
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 3 Links editor is Liz McCullough, and our Resource Guide contributor is Kate Whitcomb (Layman's Linguist).
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