Online Resources for Practical Phonetics

These resources have been designed to provide a range of materials to support students who are studying practical phonetics on programmes in Linguistics and Speech and Language Pathology.

By practical phonetics we refer to the listening and transcription skills which characterise any practical or field application of descriptive phonetic theory. A key part of acquiring such skills involves being able to make use of the symbols in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) to visually represent the range of the sounds produced by the human vocal tract. These resources focus on the necessary sound-to-symbol mapping and provide extensive exemplification of the sounds captured by the IPA. We hope they will be of value to anyone learning or teaching the IPA!

What's in the resources?

The bulk of the material consists of high quality video and audio recordings of individual sound segments produced by a male and a female speaker. There are also a range of practical exercises where the same speakers produce a range of real and nonsense words for students to transcribe. It is anticipated that the material could be used most readily as reinforcement of classroom-based material, or as a reference tool.

Cross-speaker variation

One of the most fascinating aspects of the study of phonetics (and one of the most challenging aspects of practical phonetics) is the extent of cross-speaker variation in the production of the same words or sounds. When producing the material for this resource, the two speakers have attempted to be as consistent as possible, but inevitably you will see and hear slight differences in how they produce the "same" target IPA sound. This reflects a combination of vocal tract differences between the two speakers as well as habitual detail of the way in which particular targets are realised by each speaker (while remaining consistent with the overall description of the target).

History of our video-based practical phonetics resources

Our existing video-based practical phonetics resource, produced by Gerry Docherty in 1992, has been extensively used for teaching and learning practical phonetics at Newcastle University, and indeed throughout the world. We're very pleased to be able to offer this new online resource to the phonetics community.

Updates and future plans

The updades page lists all changes and additions to this resource. We intend to continue to develop, update and expand these materials. If there are certain changes or additions that you think would be beneficial, please do email us: ipa@ncl.ac.uk.

Happy teaching, listening and transcribing!

Ghada Khattab & Gerry Docherty

Ghada Khattab is a Lecturer in Phonetics at Newcastle University. Her areas of research include sociolinguistics and bilingualism, particularly dialect acquisition by second-generation immigrants, and first- and second-language acquisition of Arabic, English, and French.

Gerry Docherty is Professor of Phonetics at Newcastle University. His research is focused on understanding phonetic variability and its implications for phonetic theory. In particular, he is interested in determining how speakers’ phonetic performance is shaped by the social-indexical dimensions of spoken communication.