What is the need of transcription in English?

Transcription (from Latin trans- + scribo, or "re-" + "write") in linguistics is the written transmission of elements of sound speech by means of a system of signs. At the end of the 19th century an international phonetic alphabet was created for this purpose: this is how foreign language teachers from Great Britain and France solved the problem of explaining nuances of the pronunciation of sounds, allophones and phonemes.

One has only two options when learning a foreign language:

  • learn all the rules of reading by heart, and there are lots of them to memorize: the letter "a", which opens the alphabet, can be pronounced in six different ways (in the transcription it looks like this: [ə], [ɑ:], [æ], [ɔ:], [ɒ], [eɪ]);
  • use a universal tool - the common phonetic alphabet that can help you to correctly read a word in any language of the world, even if it is written with unknown characters.

Certainly, there is another solution - learning a language with native speakers, when learning of phonetic rules happens naturally, just as it does with the native language. This advantage is given to young Russians entering the British school CIS International School accredited by the famous Cambridge educational institution with English teachers and tutors with communication and teaching in English (call the school administration and clarify the conditions of admission, the campuses operate in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Tashkent).

Phonetic alphabet

So, why do we need transcription? For example, you and I know that the word "корова" (cow) is spelled with an "o" but read with an "a", and any child can call a cow correctly, but a foreigner learning Russian will need additional clarification to read it correctly.

Pronunciation in English differs from the spelling of words quite significantly because there are only 26 letters in the alphabet of the language and as many as 44 sounds, so the number of letters and sounds in a word is not always the same. Moreover, some sounds are difficult to reproduce due to specific characteristics of foreigner's speech organs or peculiarities of his/her native language.

That is why apart from learning words it is recommended to develop the skill of reading a phonetic transcription - a special record which puts each sound in accordance with a graphical symbol. Such a record also reflects the open/closed syllables (this affects the rules of reading in English), indicates how long to pronounce the vowel, which consonant letters are not voiced at all.

Below are just a few examples that illustrate why there is a need for transcription in English:

  • Pronunciation and duration of the vowel depend on whether the syllable is open (e.g, made — [meɪd], nose — [noʊz]) or closed (red — [red], kill — [kɪl]);
  • mismatch in the number of letters and sounds (daughter — [ˈdɔ:tə ], тhrough — [θruː]);
  • differences in the pronunciation of the same letter (made — [meɪd], mad — [mæd], dark — [dɑːrk], tell — [tel]).

English is also famous for diphthongs and triphthongs, combinations of two or three vowels producing a new sound. One of the most difficult for Russian speakers is considered a diphthong th (designated as [ð] in the transcription).

But when one knows the phonetic alphabet, all the difficulties of the language are gone: having only a dictionary at hand without

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