Transcription exercises

1. What would a native speaker say?

An important part of phonetics and phonology is the ability to predict the way in which a standard native speaker would pronounce a given sentence, at various levels of detail.

Of course, there is never a single correct answer, especially in terms of intonation and linking. However, we can make predictions which are plausible for standard British English.

The first exercise

Open this paragraph. First, transcribe only the phonemes – the results are here.

In the summer semester, you will be transcribing in connected speech.
This means 1) linking, and 2) using feet as the units, not words. You thus have to mark all stresses!
Check the results.

Finally, transcribe the paragraph including all allophones. Try to think not only of the mandatory allophones, but also of some optional ones (e.g., stop releases). These are the suggested results.

You can also transcribe intonation, using tonetic marks for the individual tones. This is our suggestion. Try to read the paragraph aloud, using this intonation.

Similar exercises

British or American?

You can try to compare the British and American standards (Standard British English, SBE, and General American, GenAm, respectively). Transcribe two versions (SBE and GenAm) of this text in phonemes. You can look at the results in phonemic transcription and in connected speech.

2. Can you hear it?

It would not be phonetics without careful auditory analysis of natural English speech.

Save the zipped sound file and transcribe what you hear in allophonic transcription. First of all, transcribe only the phonemes, and then start with the allophones.
It is always better to focus on one allophone or a group of allophones. Don’t try to „catch“ all the details for one word. You may start, for example, with plosive allophones (aspiration and devoicing).

You can complete some of the allophones without actually listening for them (e.g., devoicing or coarticulatory allophones like nasalization or velar fronting).

Here you will find the results.

You can try two more exercises of the same type:
1) the sound and the results
2) the sound and the results
3) and in a somewhat longer sentence: the sound and the results

3. Synthesis

In this exercise you can combine prediction for a given text with the actual pronunciation.

  • First, open the text and predict an RP speaker’s pronunciation. You can look at one possible solution.
  • Now you can open the sound and compare the BBC speaker’s pronunciation with what you have predicted. There will, most probably, be some differences, so listen carefully! Then you can check the results.

4. Analyzing Czech English

Here you can try a task identical to that in the Listening Assignment of the seminar work, i.e. analysis of Czech-accented pronunciation.
This is the sound and the results.