It is interesting at this stage to consider the system of phonetic notations which is generally termed as “transcription”. Transcription is a set of symbols representing speech sounds. The symbolization of sounds naturally differs according to whether the aim is to indicate the phoneme, i.e. a functional as whole, or to reflect the modifications of its allophones as well.
The International Phonetic Association (IPA) has given accepted values to an inventory of symbols, mainly alphabetic but with additions. “Agreed values” means, for example that the symbol [q] represents a lenis backlingual stop as in gate and not the orthographic “g” of gin, which is notated as [d3].
The first type of notation, the broad or broad or phonemic transcription, provides special symbols for all the phonemes of a language. The second type, the narrow or allophonic transcription, suggests special symbols including some information about articulatory activity of particular allophonic features. The road transcription is mainly used fir practical expedience, the narrow type serves the purposes of research work.
The striking difference among present-day broad transcriptions of British English is manly due to the varying significance which is attached to vowel quality and quantity. Now we shall discuss two kinds of broad transcription which are for practical purposes in our country. The first type was introduced by D. Jones/ He realized the difference in quality as well as in quantity between the vowel sounds in the words sit and seat, pot and port, pull and pool, the neutral vowel and the vowel in the word earn. However, he aimed at reducing the number of symbols to a minimum and strongly insisted that certain conventions should be stated once for all. One of these conventions is, for instance, that the above-mentioned long and short vowels differ in quality as well as in quantity. D.Jones supposed that this convention would relieve us from the necessity of introducing special symbols to differentiate the quality of vowels. That is he used the same symbols for them. According to D. Jones’ notation English vowels are denoted like this: [I] – [і], -[e] – [ae], [ ] – [ ], [ ], [ ], [ ] – [ ]. This way of notation disguises the qualitative difference between the vowels [ ] and [і:], [ ] and [ ], [ ] and [ ], and [ з:] though nowadays most phoneticians agree that vowel length is not a distinctive feature of vowel, but is rather dependent upon the phonetic context, that is it is definitely redundant. For example, example, in such word pairs as hit – neat, cock, pull – pool the opposed vowels are approximately of the same length, the only difference between them lies in their quality which is therefore relevant.
More than that. Phonetic transcription is a good basis for teaching the pronunciation of a foreign of a foreign language, being a powerful visual aid. To achieve good results it is necessary that the learners of English should associate each relevant difference between the phonemes with special symbols, that is each phoneme should have a special symbol. If not, the difference between the pairs of sounds above may be wrongly associated with vowel length which is non-distinctive (redundant) in modern English.
The other type broad transcription, first used by V.A. Vassilyev, causes no phonological misunderstanding providing special symbols for all vowel phonemes: [ І ], [і:], [ е ], [ае ], [ а: ], [ ], [ ], [ ], [ ], [ и ], [ з: ], [ ], Being a good visual aid this way of notation can be strongly recommended for teaching the pronunciation of English to any audience.
But phonemic representation is rather imprecise as it gives too little information about the actual speech sounds. It incorporates only as much phonetic information as if is necessary to distinguish the functioning of sounds in a language. The narrow or phonetic transcription incorporates as much more phonetic information as the phonetician desires, or as he can distinguish. It provides special symbols to denote not only the phoneme as a language unit but also its allophonic modifications. The symbol [h] for instance indicates aspirated articulation, cf. [kheIt] – [skeIt]. This type of transcription is mainly used in research work. Sometimes, however, if may be helpful, at least in the early stages, to include symbols representing allophones in order to emphasize a particular feature of an allophonic modification, e.g. in the pronunciation of the consonant [f] it is often necessary to insist upon the soft and hard varieties of it by using not only [f] but also [f] (the indication of the hard variant).