Phonetics: Learning to Speak Proper

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What’s it all about?

Why do we say dogs with a ‘z’ but cats with an ‘s’? How come I can’t say those foreign words correctly? And hold on a second… what even is phonetics?

Well, it is the study of the sounds of human speech. It covers how we use our voices to pronounce different sounds, understanding which sounds are particular to different languages, and how to confer these sounds into script (the international phonetic alphabet). Phonetics is amazingly useful if you’re trying to learn a second language, or if you’ve ever had an argument with somebody about the “correct” way to pronounce something.

What will we cover?

This class will give you an insight into something that you know how to do perfectly, without having ever really considered what you are doing. We will look at the different types of consonants in English, what exactly is a vowel, what sounds exist in other languages that we never use in English, and how to read the international phonetic alphabet (IPA). In this, we will answer the following questions: What is the difference between a “d” and a “t”? Why do Japanese speakers pronounce an “l” as an “r”? Why do we find New Zealand accents funny? What is the strange difference between the words “women” and “woman”? And what on earth is ði ɪntə’næʃənəl fə’nɛtɪk ‘ælfəbɛt ?

Who will be teaching?

Stephanie is a life-long student who studies everything she can find time to study. One of those topics is phonetics, which she took classes on during her BA at Melbourne University a few years ago. She finds language infinitely fascinating, and loves regaling friends at social gatherings about the bizarre and quirky intricacies in language differences, and talking about different speech patterns between languages.