am 7. Februar 2003
What we have here is a great look into the possibilities of the IPA concerning language transcription, a must for any true phonetician.
But in the meantime, this Handbook is highly disputable - what good is a general writing system like the International Phonetic Alphabet if single scientists have their own definitions and ideas about how to use and read it, about the representation of spoken sounds?
In the chapter "American English", Mr. Ladefoged writes "came" (to come - came - come) and transcribes it as [kem], denying the diphthong quality inside the word! But, as we all should know, /e/ is a monophthong as in the German word "Teer" ("tar" in English).
Next case: Mr. Kohler, writing the German chapter, obviously trancribes in a way he hears or speaks himself, and the transcription rather shows a personal variation, but not Modern High German!
My final word is about Mr. Okada who wrote the Japanese transcription. Though using IPA symbols, his transcription of the Japanese sentences does not represent modern Japanese pronunciation, because of whatever reason. Instead, in his introduction he writes about how to interpret his transcriptions!
I always thought that the idea of the IPA was NOT to be forced to interpret the transcription symbols - but to read them following a general practice.
And a general practice is not what I find in the Handbook of the International Phonetic Association.
am 19. April 2000
This is a much needed and superb book. It is a must for all the specialists and beginners in phonetic transcription. At last, we have a general and compact presentation of the current version of IPA, also throwing new light on the rationale of some choices that were not clear or explicit enough in the papers appeared in the Journal of the IPA. A new symbol (for the retroflex implosive of Sindhi) is also added, together with some proposals for a wider usage of little apex letters. I would have appreciated still more details on the (clumsy and much debatable) solutions proposed by present IPA for tonal notations: I feel definitely more at ease on Yuanren Chao's side! The choice of sample languages is quite balanced as for families and geographical distribution. In my opinion, however, the languages should also have been chosen also because of their sociolinguistic relevance. Might we hope, e.g., for something on Spanish and Italian in the next edition?