1st Edition

American English Phonetic Transcription

By Paul Carley, Inger M. Mees Copyright 2021
    182 Pages 51 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    182 Pages 51 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    American English Phonetic Transcription provides an accessible introduction to phonemic, phonetic, and intonational transcription with a focus on American English. Featuring exercises, revision tasks, and recordings to help students gain hands-on practice, the book takes a learning-by-doing approach and ensures students gain practice using each new symbol or concept introduced before moving on to the next. Consisting of three parts, the book covers:

    • transcribing individual words, including consonants, vowels, primary stress, secondary stress, syllabic consonants, and inflections;
    • transcribing phrases and sentences, including weak forms, elision, and assimilation;
    • transcribing intonation, including the structure of English intonation and recognizing pitch patterns.

    Ideally suited as a standalone workbook or for use alongside British English Phonetic Transcription, American English Phonetic Transcription is key reading for undergraduate students of linguistics as well as anyone teaching or learning English as a foreign language.

    Symbols for phonemic transcription

    Phonetic symbols and diacritics

    The International Phonetic Alphabet

    Preface and acknowledgments

    Before you start transcribing…


    1. The familiar consonants /p b t d k ɡ f v s z h m n w l r/ and the vowels /ɪ æ ɛ ə ʊ/

    2. Primary stress, unstressed schwa /ə/, unstressed schwar /ər/, and unstressed KIT /ɪ/

    3. Consonants with unfamiliar symbols /ʃ ʒ ʧ ʤ j ŋ θ ð/ and /t/-voicing

    4. The FLEECE /i/ and the GOOSE /u/ vowels

    5. The PALM /ɑ/, THOUGHT /ɔ/, SPORT /o/, stressed schwa /ər/ vowels, and DRESS /ɛ/ and TRAP /æ/ before /r/

    6. The FACE /eɪ/, PRICE /aɪ/, and CHOICE /ɔɪ/ vowels

    7. The GOAT /oʊ/and MOUTH /aʊ/ vowels

    8. FLEECE /i/ and GOOSE /u/ before /r/

    9. Syllabic consonants

    10. Secondary stress

    11. Inflections and epenthesis


    12. Connected speech and liaison

    13. Stress and weak forms

    14. Elision

    15. Assimilation

    16. Connected speech: extended practice


    17. An introduction to intonation

    18. Nucleus and tail

    19. Head and pre-head

    20. Intonation: extended practice


    A. Summary of consonant and vowel theory

    B. Phonetic transcription

    References and suggested reading



    Paul Carley has held posts at the University of Applied Sciences, Utrecht, the universities of Bedfordshire and Leicester, UK, and the Fakeeh College for Medical Sciences, Jeddah. He is a regular lecturer on the UCL Summer Course in English Phonetics and an examiner for the International Phonetic Association.

    Inger M. Mees is Associate Professor Emeritus at the Copenhagen Business School and a part-time lecturer in the Department of English, Germanic, and Romance Studies, Copenhagen University. She has formerly held lectureships at the universities of Leiden and Copenhagen, Denmark. She is on the academic staff of the UCL Summer Course in English Phonetics.

    “Phonemic transcription is an invaluable tool for language learners and teachers. In my opinion, American English Phonetic Transcription is by far the best treatment of the subject to date. It’s comprehensive, accessible, and contains a wealth of practice material supported by recordings. Truly an indispensable resource for anyone interested in the sounds of English!”

    Hiroshi Miura, Senshu University, Japan

    "This book takes a systematic approach to successful phonetic transcription, focusing on step-by-step fundamentals needed by any beginning linguist or English language teacher in approaching English speech in words and phrases."

    John Levis, Iowa State University, USA