In this course ...

(M.St./M.Phil. Phonetics)

... we shall study general articulatory and acoustic phonetics.

General phonetics means that we shall study all the possible speech abilities that a speaker of any language might use in their speech.

For this term, we will concentrate on the description of speech, independently of any particular language, through a complete and thorough study of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), which is designed to be used in writing down the pronunciation of any language. We shall study various kinds of phonetic transciption, in various degrees of detail, for different purposes. Articulatory phonetics means that we shall study the names and nature of the speaking organs and their role in speech. The symbols of the IPA are defined mostly in articulatory terms, and partly in acoustic terms.

After each lecture, please practise the new sounds you have learned, by saying them aloud to yourself (in a private place, I suggest). By practising, you will become more sensitive to the position and motions of the organs of speech, including those which you are not normally used to using, and their auditory effects. If you do not practise, you will probably not get the hang of the IPA properly.

To help you practise, there are some audio-visual resources. There is a web-based guide to the sounds of the IPA at The sound clips on that site are taken from a tape recording/CD made at UCL and available from that department by mail order (details at A number of recordings of words in various languages are presented in my web pages/handouts for this course, which are available at (follow the third link below "Course handouts").