was originally conceived in 2000 as a response to new visa restrictions
which made it increasingly difficult for some English language learners
to come to study English in the USA, Britain and Australia. Fonetiks
enabled these language learners to study native speaker pronunciation without
leaving their homes, merely by mousing over the text on their computer screens.
For all language varieties represented, the following concepts guide us in the selection of speakers and speech sounds:
1 Majority comprehensibility: sounds should be readily comprehensible to the majority of speakers of the same language. So for example we would avoid a Scottish accent if it were so 'broad' as to be incomprehensible to many Americans.
2 Class: unless otherwise stated, we represent the broad majority, avoiding sounds associated uniquely with the very rich or the very poor.
3 Living language: unless otherwise stated, we represent sounds that are common usage at the time of their publication on this website.
4 Authenticity: we will not ask speakers to falsify their accent in any way, seeking rather to represent their natural accent in everyday speech.
5 Sounds on this site are written down in various ways for convenience - the aim is to identify each sound, not to describe it phonetically - we leave the sound recording itself to do that.
6 One more guiding principle: we will avoid as far as possible the use of any phonetic alphabet or jargon from the dismal science of phonetics, seeking rather to popularise this revealing field of study.
Postscript from Tim Bowyer
"An eery poem written around the year 975 A.D. in Old English, called 'The Dream of the Rood', wherein Christ's cross comes to life, gave me my first interest in phonetics. I then read of Daniel Jones, the obsessive pioneer who tied lead plates to his tongue to x-ray its movements as he spoke... I hope Fonetiks will not only help language learners but also serve as a record of vowel sounds as they shift from generation to generation." Perth, December 11th 2000
"I was cut down at the forest edge, removed from my root... They pierced me with dark nails... I was soaked with blood issuing from the man's side after he sent forth his spirit...."
Mouse over to hear this excerpt from the poem, roughly as it was spoken a thousand years ago:
- which means:
I dreamed in the middle of the night,
The contents of this site are © Copyright 2000-2006 Tim Bowyer - All rights reserved