Library Section on Phonetics and Linguistics

Beginners Books


The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language (David Crystal, 1997). A wide-ranging and entertaining introduction to the many themes in the study of human language. This book presents the variety, structure, history and theory of language in all its diversity. It includes recent advances in areas like machine translation, speech interaction with machines, and language teaching. There is material on acoustics, physiological concepts of language, and World English, language distribution maps, language-speaking statistics, and a table of the world's languages. [Cambridge University Press, ISBN: 0521559677]. Available at and


The Language Instinct (Steven Pinker, 2000). Pursuing the ideas of Darwin and Chomsky, Steven Pinker offers a look at why we use language and where this ability comes from. Rather than being an acquired cultural artefact, it is vigorously argued that language is a biological adaptation to communicate information and as such is a system of great richness and beauty. Using examples of the way language is used in daily life from the mouths of children to the pontifications of politicians, Pinker explores this system and our instinct to use it. [Harperperennial, ISBN: 0060958332]. Available at and


The Ascent of Babel (Gerry Altmann, 1998). Language is said to be one of the faculties which sets humans apart from the animals, the crucial thing which makes our complex social interactions possible. This text explores the ways in which the mind produces and understands language. It describes, in terms accessible to the non-specialist reader, our understanding of the mental processes that underlie our use and understanding of language. This book is intended for non-specialist readers of popular science; students of psychology, from A-level through undergraduate; speech therapists, educational psychologists and linguists. [Oxford University Press, ISBN: 0198523777]. Available at and


Longman Pronunciation Dictionary (John Wells, 2000). This new edition provides up-to-date information and advice on the contemporary English pronunciation of 75,000 words. As well as providing clear models of widely accepted pronunications, it also presents valuable information about alternative pronunications, technical vocabulary and proper names. [Longman; ISBN: 0582364671]. Available at and

Intermediate Books


A Course in Phonetics (Peter Ladefoged, 1993). By the grand old man of Phonetics, this remains the most well-written and accessible introduction to Phonetics. It is widely used as a textbook for introductory College level courses throughout the world. [Harcourt Publishers Ltd School Department, ISBN: 0155001736]. Available at and


Vowels and Consonants (Peter Ladefoged, 2000). This introduction to phonetics, with an accompanying CD, should be useful for anyone who wants to learn about the sounds of languages. Peter Ladefoged describes how languages use a variety of different sounds, many of them quite unlike any that occur in well-known languages. People trill their lips and click their tongues when talking in ways that are amazing to English speakers. Several of these unusual sounds are reproduced on the CD. After a brief introduction to the main forces working on the sounds of languages, the acoustic components of speech are described in basic terms, leading up to a demonstration of speech synthesis. There are chapters on computers and speech, one describing text to speech systems, and the other outlining how speech recognition systems work. The last part of the book describes the sounds of a wide variety of languages, introducing them to readers largely by means of the CD that accompanies the book, and by reference to the symbols of the International Phonetic Alphabet. [Blackwell Publishers; ISBN: 0631214127]. Available at and


Acoustic and Auditory Phonetics (Keith Johnson, 1997). This volume provides an introduction to phonetics for speech science courses. The first chapters introduce basic acoustics, audition, digital signal processing, and the source filter theory of speech production, while the later chapters survey the major classes of speech sounds describing in detail their acoustic and auditory properties. [Blackwell, ISBN: 0631200959]. Available at and


An Introduction to Language (Victoria Fromkin, Robert Rodman, 1997). This is a very popular College-level text in the U.S. It has a very friendly and appealing style, although you can get rather distracted by the cartoons! [Harcourt Publishers Ltd College Publishers, ISBN: 003018682X]. Available at and


English Transcription Course (John Maidment, Maria Luisa Garcia Lecumberri, 2000). This manual introduces the basics of phonetic terminology, and gives extensive practice in transcribing texts involving the major phonological processes in modern English. It uses transcription systems, including features of English pronunciation which were treated as marginal (or substandard), but which are, in fact, becoming the norm for younger speakers. Model answers for all exercises are included in an appendix, and there are many original passages for transcription practice. The book should be suitable for use as a course text by an instructor, or for individual self-study. [Arnold; ISBN: 034075978X] Available at and

English Phonetics and Phonology: A Practical Course (Peter Roach, 2001). This is a complete basic course in English phonetics and phonology. Since its publication it has established itself as the most practical and comprehensive text in the field. It is used by both native and non-native speakers, who may be training to teach English or studying the language at an advanced level. The new edition takes into account recent developments on the teaching of phonology, and a number of improvements have been made in response to feedback from users world wide. English Phonetics and Phonology bridges the gap between simple pronunciation handbooks and technical phonetics and phonology textbooks. The chapters are cross-referenced to the recordings which consist of practical exercises on two cassettes or CDs. At the end of each chapter there are notes giving information on further reading, discussion of difficult issues and, where appropriate, suggestions for teachers. [Cambridge University Press; ISBN: 0521786134] Available at and

Advanced Books


Principles of Phonetics (John Laver, 1994). Underlying the apparent diversity shown by thousands of mutually incomprehensible languages of the world, there is a remarkable, elegant and principled unity in the way that these languages exploit the phonetic resources of speech. It is these principles that Professor Laver sets out to describe in this textbook. Assuming no previous knowledge of the subject, it is designed for readers who wish to pursue the study of phonetics from an initial to an advanced stage, equipping then with the necessary foundations for independent research. The book moves from a discussion of general concepts to a total of 11 chapters on phonetic classification, and it includes discussion of other issues such as the relationship between phonetics and phonology. There are illustrations from over 500 of the world's languages. "Principles of Phonetics" should be valuable reading for all serious students of speech and language. [Cambridge University Press, ISBN: 052145655X]. Available at and


English Sound Structure (John Harris, 1994). Primarily designed as a text for use on intermediate and advanced courses in English phonology, this book should be useful to anyone interested in recent developments in phonological theory. The discussion proceeds on the assumption that phonological differences between grammars, no less than syntactic differences, are constrained by universal principles and occur within fixed bounds defined by a relatively small number of parameters. The impact of this view on phonological theory is illustrated by analysis of a wide range of pronunication variables in English which offer insights into the limits of phonological variation. The book explores recent innovations in nonlinear theory, focusing on the internal composition of segments and the manner in which these are organized into prosodic constituents. Phenomena discussed in connection with these developments include vowel length, weakening and vowel reduction, and syncope. A pivotal role is assigned to phonological licensing, which controls the ability of different positions in the prosodic hierarchy to support segmental contrasts. [Blackwell Publishers; ISBN: 0631187413]. Available at and


Journal of Phonetics. From Elsevier.

Language. Journal of the Linguistic Society of America.

Reference Material

SID - The Speech Internet Dictionary. The aim of SID is to provide concise definitions of technical terms used in phonetics, phonology, speech and hearing science and allied disciplines.

A Little Encyclopedia of Phonetics. A complete book in PDF format with encyclopedic descriptions of technical terms used in Phonetics and Phonology. A series of really clear and useful definitions from "accent" to "x-ray microbeam", by Peter Roach.

SAMPA - standard for machine readable phonetic transcription. Although true IPA fonts are readily available, this page gives a standard for the storage of transcription in normal ASCII characters; and can form the basis for a keyboard layout for transcription.

Phonetics of Vowels and Consonants. Supplement to a book by Peter Ladefoged, author of A Course in Phonetics see above.

English Language around the World. Links to many resources about English language form and use throughout the world.

Information about Lexical Stress in many languages. A searchable reference database of the stress patterns found a wide range of languages.

Online phonetics resources. More links to sites with information about Phonetics and Linguistics or Speech Sciences.


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Copyright © 2010 Mark Huckvale

Last modified: 15:12 06-Jun-2010.