It was about one and a half years ago that I finally I arrived where I had always wanted to be and do what I had always wanted-- teach students, support small language communities and conduct research on African languages on my doorstep. The University of Cape Town and my new colleagues welcomed my efforts to establish the Centre for African Language Diversity-- CALDi as well as The African Language Archive-- TALA and I was recently appointed the Mellon Research Chair: African Language Diversity this initiative. The main aim of CALDi is to train young African scholars in descriptive linguistics and open up space for research into African languages at UCT with the hopes of countering the dominance of African linguistics outside the continent. It has been a great challenge for which my whole career has been a form of preparation...Read more
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Date: Thu, 16 Sep 2004 15:44:12 -0500 From: Pete Unseth <Pete_Unseth@gial.edu> Subject: Articulatory Phonetics: Tools for Analyzing the World's Languages
Authors: Bickford, Anita C.; Floyd, Rick Title: Articulatory Phonetics Subtitle: Tools for Analyzing the World's Languages, 3rd ed. Publisher: SIL International Year: 2003
Peter Unseth, Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics
DESCRIPTION This book was written as a textbook for a course in Articulatory Phonetics, primarily aimed at equipping students to do field work in languages that they do not know. The book is appropriate for use by undergraduate or graduate students, meant for an introductory course. It is planned only for a course in Phonetics, not a textbook for the now commonly found courses in Phonetics and Phonology, such as might use Clark and Yallop's "An Introduction to Phonetics and Phonology". Almost all of the words given for students to practice are from languages other than English, which distinguishes this book from Roach's "English Phonetics and Phonology: A Practical Course" and Edwards' "Applied Phonetics: The Sound of American English". The book is most comparable to Smalley's "Manual of Articulatory Phonetics", which has been out of print for a number of years.
The title page of this book identifies it as "third edition, revised", but the first two editions, written by Floyd, were not commercially distributed.
I have used this textbook teaching phonetics for 3 semesters. I have found the order of the topics covered and the contents of the chapters to be a very adequate for a phonetics textbook. I have had two graduate students who had completed BA degrees in Linguistics at respected universities that offered linguistics degrees all the way to the Ph.D. level. Both of them had studied phonetics with a significant component of acoustics and Phonology, but both found that the present book (and the largely articulatory course) covered much material that they had not mastered.
The book explicitly strives to teach students to: -Identify the segments taught using the canonical technical labels of the IPA, e.g. voicing, place of articulation, manner of articulation, air mechanism -Produce the sounds represented by each symbol -Recognize the sounds and be able to transcribe them using IPA symbols
The book is very much formatted as a textbook, rather than a reference book. It is 8.5 inches by 11 inches (approximately 28 cm. x 22 cm.), facilitating larger diagrams and tables, and also giving room for students to write answers to questions. The progression of the lessons is from easy sounds, fricatives in chapter 3 (used with the vowel [a]), to more complex, such as clicks in 36 and double articulations in 33. Teachers can combine or reorder these chapters to fit their schedules. There are two review chapters, one in the middle and one at the end. Many lessons have production hints on how to produce sounds, such as the lesson on flaps and trills which suggests relaxing the tongue and saying "butted up" more and more rapidly until the speaker flaps the r.
Almost every lesson has written exercises to help the students test their comprehension and reinforce what they have read. For example, in the chapter on affricates, a list of consonant sequences is given and students are asked to distinguish whether each is an affricate or not, such as [bf], [tx], and [zv]. If it is an affricate, they are to give the technical label for it; if it is not, they are to explain why it does not meet the definition of an affricate.
Most chapters of the book teach a set of sounds, such as "implosives", "laterals", "approximants", etc. Because of this compartmentalized approach, this book does not provide broader coverage certain topics. We compensate for this by assigning students additional readings, mainly from Ladefoged's "A Course in Phonetics".
Since this is a textbook to prepare people for phonetic fieldwork, it includes a very brief 3-page chapter on palatography, an important heuristic test that can be demonstrated on a day when students need a lighter topic.
One very significant strength of the book is the rich array of examples of real words from languages. In the abstract, I presume that the sounds could be taught equally well using nonsense words designed to highlight the sounds taught in each lesson, but I feel my students respond better to data that is collected from real languages. The data from various languages is often credited to individual linguists as "personal communication". Some will feel that a book, especially in a graduate course, should cite a higher percentage of data from published sources. Data from a number of the published sources can be updated from later publications, e.g. the Lendu syllabic fricative data from Tucker's 1940 book can be greatly expanded by citing Kutsch Lojenga's 1994 book, "Ngiti: A Central-Sudanic language of Zaire." (Though it does not lessen the specific teaching value of the book, there are some mistakes in the citations of these sources and in the data itself.)
The book directly addresses a problem for some linguists, especially students: it provides an explanation of non-IPA alternative symbols that have been commonly used, especially the Americanist symbols. These are included piecemeal in the various chapters, not in a more helpful conversion table at the end.
The book does not come with any audio CD, so teachers must provide students with other means for listening to the various sounds being taught. This may be done by accessing phonetics websites such as hctv.humnet.ucla.edu/departments/linguistics/VowelsandConsonants/index/sounds.html or the preparation of CDs for in-class use only, copyrights and permissions complicating this matter.
The book at times falls into imprecise phrasing, such as "Aspirated double stops are not known to occur in languages" (p. 173). Since aspirated double stops have been documented, presumably this was to mean that contrastive aspiration has not been found on double stops.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
The reviewer is a member of the faculty of the Graduate Institute of
Applied Linguistics, teaching Phonetics. He has done fieldwork in a
dozen languages of Ethiopia, working under SIL.