2003 MAY 10 #130
I guess you've seen those pronunciation squiggles in dictionaries. If you're really dedicated, you might have tried to sound them out. But someone, somewhere, must have decided what sound each of those symbols represented. Moreover, they'd also have to have some kind of recording of those sounds, so everyone could agree that precisely that squiggle meant precisely this sound.
And so, in 1995, John Wells and Jill House, both professors at the Department of Phonetics and Linguistics at University College London (England), recorded a guide to the International Phonetic Alphabet. In doing so, they also inadvertantly crafted a work of delightful humour.
Profs House and Wells, in impeccable BBC English accents, take the listener on a tour of the world's stranger sounds. In the selection I have chosen for you, you will hear a flurry of raspberries, clicks, pops, smooches and gargles. All of these are delivered absolutely deadpan. Mere mortals would have cracked up at the first bilabial trill. But John and Jill are professionals, and keep going to the last alveolar fricative ejective.
This CD is the sort of thing that phoneticists play at parties, and wonder why only other phoneticists come to those parties. Unlike most recordings features on The 365 Days Project, this one is still very much available from the UCL Phonetics lab, here: http://www.phon.ucl.ac.uk/home/wells/cassette.htm
- Stewart C. Russell, http://www3.sympatico.ca/scruss/
TT-2:29 / 1.4MB / 78kbps(VBR) 44.1khz (MONO)
from "The Sounds of the IPA" (1995)