By Peter Ladefoged & Keith Johnson
“The sixth edition marks a transition in A Course in Phonetics. This is the first edition to appear since the death of Peter Ladefoged. When I was asked by his widow Jenny Ladefoged and publisher Michael Rosenberg to produce this new edition of the Course, I was honored but also quite daunted. Through five editions, this book has been an almost ideal tool for teaching phonetics. When you start from such a high point, there is a lot of room to go down and not much room to go up.
As in previous editions of this book, there is an introduction to how speech is produced, a description of speech in acoustic terms, and instruction in practical phonetic skills. These approaches all use phonetic transcription. Whether you are a speech pathologist, an opera singer, a linguist, an actor, or any other student of speech, you need to be able to represent the sounds of speech by using the symbols of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). This is the accepted way of recording observations of what people say. Ordinary spelling does not allow you to represent all the subtle variations that occur when different people talk. Learning to use the IPA symbols is an essential part of phonetics.
One of the main changes in this new edition is that the sections on acoustic phonetics and speech motor control go deeper than those in the fifth edition did. The aim of the acoustic phonetics sections is to help students use widely available tools for digitally inspecting and manipulating speech. However, instructors who prefer the traditional system of teaching only articulatory phonetics to start will still find it possible to do so by simply skipping the acoustics sections. Inclusion of new material on speech motor control is meant to provide a firmer foundation for the understanding of speech production, and the performance exercises in each chapter provide a framework for students to practice the sounds of the world’s languages.”