American English Phonetic Transcription  book cover
1st Edition

American English Phonetic Transcription

ISBN 9780367441715
Published May 27, 2021 by Routledge
182 Pages 51 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

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.

Table of Contents

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


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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