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Subject: IPA transcription question
Question: One of my co-workers and I are having a disagreement regarding the IPA transcription
of the phrase ''Explore the Core''. One thought is that it is transcribed as: ɛkˈsplɔɚ ðə
kɔɝ and the other thought is that it is transcribed as: ɪk'splɔɚ ðə kɔɚ. Please let us
know the correct transcription (or let us know if we are both wrong). Thanks

Reply: You have a very basic problem here with understanding IPA. IPA is a system for writing speech as it is said. Both of these are possible transcriptions of the spoken English of some people. Many other transcriptions are possible. For instance, many accents would have a /r/ as the final sound of both 'explore' and in 'core'.

I don't agree with Professor Sampson that the /ɛ/ is unusual. Indeed, I myself say /ɛkˈsplɔ/. I note that your transcription uses /ɔɚ/. This suggests to me that it is supposed to represent old-fashiioned RP. Most modern RP would have just a long /ɔ/, making 'paw', 'pore' (and often 'poor' as well) sound identical. Old fashioned RP would definitely have an /ɪ/ in /ɪk'splɔɚ/.

Always use slash lines, //, around phonemic transcriptions. And remember, we can't say whether a transcription is correct unless we know what the speech sounded like.

Reply From: Anthea Fraser Gupta      click here to access email
Date: 17-Dec-2013
Other Replies:
  1. Re: IPA transcription question    Elizabeth J Pyatt     (20-Dec-2013)
  2. Re: IPA transcription question    Geoffrey Richard Sampson     (17-Dec-2013)
  3. Re: IPA transcription question    Madalena Cruz-Ferreira     (17-Dec-2013)

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