Is my textbook wrong about phonetic transcription?

Linguistics Asked by David Moravec on February 22, 2021

brand new here with (I hope) a simple question.

Yesterday I had my first linguistics class and the professor mentioned a difference between phonemic and phonetic transcription. He said for e.g. that a phonemic trans. uses "/", however phonetic trans. uses "[". I looked into my high school text books and found out that in a column "phonetics" there are "/". I am quite puzzled right now. Is my textbook using a wrong format of transcription?

Thank you so much for clarifying this to me!


Picture of my English textbook

One Answer

I would say that the textbook is correct: that barring squabbles over the substance of the phonemic analysis, the book has provided a phonemic transcription, and not a phonetic one. For example, there would be "ʰ" all over the place to indicate the phonetic aspiration that exists in English. In notates "jingle" with a cluster /ŋgl/, lacking the syllabic diacritic under l which would be in a phonetic transcription. This being UK English, I don't know what other phonetic details are missing. It does make some choices about phonemicization, writing /əʊ, i:/ which could equally be /o: o; i/, but that is consistent with the range of possible analyses of English.

Correct answer by user6726 on February 22, 2021

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