[Wikipedia-l] policy suggestion: SAMPA

Toby Bartels toby+wikipedia-l at math.ucr.edu
Fri Aug 9 14:51:49 UTC 2002

Brion Vibber wrote:

>Toby Bartels wrote:

>>IANAB (I am not a Brit), but I think that you are wrong.
>>But this doesn't invalidate your ultimate point;
>>it just means that the guide should say "CHAHP-ek" instead.

>Great! Then please change it.


>>Brion Vibber wrote:

>>>See [[Clitoris]] for an example: it has a link to [[SAMPA|pronounced]],
>>>a SAMPA representation (correctly in [phonetic transcription brackets]),
>>>an approximation in English orthography, and a wav file (should it be an

>>How are the phonetic brackets correct?  *I* don't pronounce it that way!
>>But change it to phonemic slashes, and suddenly I do.
>>Unless we're describing distinct dialects, brackets will always be wrong.

>Is the wav file incorrect, then? It's much more precise and dialect-
>specific, including detail that the phonetic transcription does not.

The wav file is fine (although it disagrees with the bracketed transcription).
But it's obvious that this is just one person's pronunciation.
Sure, it's obvious that the bracketed transcription is just one dialect,
but why are we trying to claim more precision than is justified?
There's no way for a recording to give less precision than
the sound of a single, unique, ultimately unreproduceable utterance,
but there's an easy way to make a phonetic transcription give less precision,
and that's to use slashes to indicate that the transcription is phonemic.

Even that may be too precise for a language as broadly varying as English,
but it should do in this case, and in many others.

And what dialect is that bracketed transcription supposed to be anyway?
Or is the lack of aspiration on the [k] a mistake?

-- Toby Bartels
   <toby+wikipedia-l at math.ucr.edu>

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