Bauhaus-Universität Weimar

E. H. Tuttle. 
I. General principles. 
In order to discuss speech sounds in a concise and intelligible manner, 
we must represent them by signs of fairly definite meaning. Ordinary 
orthography will not do for this purpose, since in nearly every language 
there is more or less of irregularity in the relation of spoken words to 
their written forms. Thus, in English, groups of letters are often used 
for simple sounds, and conversely ; ‘ rough ’ = ‘ ruff, ’ ‘ sword ’ = 
‘soared,’ ‘phlox’ = ‘flocks.’ In German ‘wird’ = ‘ wirt(h)/ 
‘ stadt ’ = ‘ statt,’ ‘ viel ’ = ‘ fiel,’ ‘ feld ’ = ‘ fällt,’ ‘ so(o)le ’ = ‘ sohle,’ 
—z rimes with—ds, —ts, etc. In French ‘ car’ = ‘ quart, ’ ‘sansr 
= ‘ sang ’ = ‘ sens ’ = ‘ sent ’ = ‘ cent,’ ‘ saoul ’ = ‘ sous ’ = ‘ soue,’ 
‘ ceins ’ = ‘ ceint ’ = ‘ cinq ’ = ‘ sain ’ = ‘ saint ’ = ‘ sein ’ = ‘ seing,r 
‘souhait’ = ‘soi.’ In Italian half the letters of the alphabet are used 
in two or more different manners. 
It is evident that we need for scientific purposes a sign system free 
from such serious faults as these. It should, however, be kept in mind 
that to construct and employ a mathematically exact system would be 
practically impossible, because of the linguistic and physiological differ¬ 
ences between individuals.1 Many of the phonetic symbols used here 
must therefore be understood as representing groups of slightly different 
articulations, sounds or properties.2 
One of the first points to be considered is how to distinguish phonetic 
letters from orthographic ones. Many writers, overlooking the impor¬ 
tance of this consideration, make no distinction between orthographic 
and phonetic spelling, with the result that their work is sometimes unin¬ 
telligible, or, worse yet, misleading. Thus, when a French writer speaks- 
1 The formula system of representing sounds is evidently intended as an approach to 
mathematical accuracy, but can hardly be called a phonetic transcription in the proper 
sense of the term ; it is rather a description in a sort of physiological shorthand. (JES- 
persen, Fonetik, Köbenhavn 1897-1899.) 
2 The fact that speech does not consist of a series of adjacent sounds independent of 
one another, as implied by an alphabetic representation, will be left out of account here. 


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