LINGUIST List 10.1039

Tue Jul 6 1999

Disc: Davenport and Hannahs: Phonetics & Phonology

Editor for this issue: Karen Milligan <>


  1. DETERDING David Henry (SOA), Disc: Davenport and Hannahs: Intro. Phonetics & Phonology

Message 1: Disc: Davenport and Hannahs: Intro. Phonetics & Phonology

Date: Mon, 5 Jul 1999 16:24:00 +0800
From: DETERDING David Henry (SOA) <>
Subject: Disc: Davenport and Hannahs: Intro. Phonetics & Phonology

In their response to my review of their book 'Introducing Phonetics and
Phonology', S.J. Hannahs and Mike Davenport mention the chicken-and-egg
problem of using phonetic symbols before students are familiar with them.
Indeed, it is a problem: when teaching phonetics, you want students to use
phonetic symbols as soon as possible, but how can you do this when they are
not yet familiar with all the symbols that they need? Their solution to
this problem is to use partial transcriptions such as '[lj]ute' and
'pi[l]ow', until all the vowels have been introduced.

I believe that a better solution to this problem is to deal with vowels
before consonants. There are plenty of consonants that are fairly obvious
and can be used with no introduction: e.g. [p, b, t, d, s, f, v, m, n], but
there are almost no vowels that fall into this category. [e] is about the
only candidate, but even this is not possible if Cardinal Vowel 3 is used
for the vowel in 'pet'.

Hannahs and Davenport introduce consonants before vowels, and as a result
they have little option but to use partial transcriptions. Of course, there
are some advantages in dealing with consonants first, particularly because
the articulation of consonants links well with the description of the
articulators of the vocal tract. However, I believe that the advantages of
dealing with vowels first, and thereby achieving full transcriptions right
from the start, outweigh the disadvantages.

David Deterding
NIE, Singapore
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