P H O N E T I C S
DIFFERENT SPELLINGS IN DIFFERENT LANGUAGES
When reading texts in various languages we see that identical sounds are expressed by different letters. And we also see that different sounds are expressed by identical letters.
Thus the reading of foreign languages requires knowledge of various systems of spelling.
Scholars have developed several so-called phonetic alphabets, that have specific special symbols for , hopefully, every sound in a great number of different languages.
Regretfully, none of these systems can be fully perfect, as the variations of sounds in pronunciation are just too many to be captured in one "alphabet". Therefore, any phonetic alphabet has to be a kind of compromise between necessities and reasonable possibilities.
As things stand today, none of the existing phonetic alphabets is readily understandable and accessible to the average educated reader. Besides that, there is no practical full agreement between scholars as to how a phonetic alphabet should be. To us, with the problem of explaining similarities between words and roots written in various languages, this is an obstacle. And therefore also we have had to arrive at some compromise between desirable and comprehensible.
We have taken into consideration that our readers will be familiar with the English language and that a considerable part of them may have a different mother-tongue.
Further one must register that English has a rather accessible system of writing the sounds of consonants, but a very difficult system of writing vowels. Transcribing foreign languages , as is sometimes tried, respecting the way some English vowels are pronounced, makes a well-nigh impossible and certainly very unpleasant reading for anybody. If one writes the German word "bitte" as "beette", the reader loses himself like in a jungle and is soon fed-up with his reading.
THE CHOSEN SOLUTION
So we have chosen to adopt a phonetic transcription with the following main characteristics :
- Vowels are used following Latin, which is very near that of most European continental languages.
- Consonants are used following the English spelling, with a few inevitable but easily understandable exceptions.
- Vowels and consonants that are not represented as such in these
two groups, receive a specific, often used and anyhow easily understandable phonetic spelling.
| Created: Tuesday 6 November 2007 at 22.30.54 Updated: Thursday 10 January 2013 at 20.00.48