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Francisco Zabala - 2014

How to transcribe: tutorial


This document will help you work with the first two texts. Before getting started you need to:

Get acquainted with the IPA chart


Read Weak and Strong Vowels (focus on the role of stress)
Read Sentence Stress (focus on the difference between content and grammar words)
Read Word stress (focus on the Teutonic Rule and the Rule of Alternation)
Read Spelling and Pronunciation (focus on silent <-e>, magic <-y>, the Basic
Vowel Pattern, double consonant letters and two vowel letters together.)

STEP 1: Highlight all the content words in the text. This will help you get organized. Remember
that most monosyllabic grammar words are normally pronounced in their weak form (see the
chart). You will soon get to remember all of them by heart because they are extremely
frequent. These words take weak vowels because they are 90% of the times unstressed. Why?
Because they are predictable!
STEP 2: Underline the stressed syllables in each of the content words. You will soon realize that
there are loads of monosyllabic content words in English. Longer words normally take one
stress, especially if it falls on either the first or second syllable (Teutonic Rule). Be careful with
those long words whose main stress falls on the third or fourth syllable: there is a hidden
secondary stress towards the beginning of the word!

Bedazzled
DEVIL:

And so the cow was returned to its rightful owner. Ok, boys tonights
homework:

CLASS:

Aw!

DEVIL:

Algebra. X to the nth plus Y to the nth equals Z to the nth. Well, you're never
gonna use that, are you? Imperialism and the First World War. Well, what's
done is done, I say. No point thinking about it now. German, French,
Spanish: ja ja, oui oui, s s. It's nonsense. Everyone speaks English
anyway, and if they don't, they ought to. So, no homework tonight. But I
want you to watch a lot of television, don't neglect your video games, and I'll
see you in the morning. Shall we say ten, ten thirty? No point getting up too
early, is there?

CLASS:

Yes!

Francisco Zabala - 2014

Analysis
Bedazzled

/bdz()ld ||
1. The stress falls on DAZ, so the vowel is strong. Schwa cannot be used there. The vowel
sound is short because the <a> letter is followed by a double consonant (i.e. .dH. is not
possible here). The spelling <a> normally corresponds to .z..
2. We use weak vowels in the unstressed syllables.
3. The final sound in the base form, .k., is voiced. This means that the past tense is formed
by adding a voiced sound, .c.. (See the rule for regular past tenses in the booklet).
4. (): Scwha is normally dropped when it is followed by .k+ m+ l. and preceded by a
consonant. E.g. Parcel .!o@9r'?(k., pardon .!o@9c'?(m., rhythm .!qHC'?(l..

DEVIL:

And so the cow was returned to its rightful owner.

dev()l || n s ka wz rtnd tu ts ratf()l n ||


1. All the grammar words in the line are used in their weak form.
2. Notice that although schwa is never stressed, we can stress .?T.. Why is this so? This is
not schwa, this is a strong diphthong in its own right. In other words, when we stress
.?T. we arent stressing schwa, were stressing the whole diphthong.
3. The word <and> normally loses the final .c..
4. The verb to be, although it is a main verb, is considered to be a grammar word in
phonetics. As a result, we need to use its weak form.
5. Notice that the word RETURNED contains only one .q. phoneme. In General British, .q. is
only found before vowels, i.e. it is silent when it is followed by consonants or silence.
General British is a non-rhotic accent, that is, the distribution of .q. is restricted to prevocallic environments. This radical <r> makes the vowel long.
6. The weak word <to> takes .t. because it is followed by a vowel sound.
Ok, boys tonights homework:

ke bz | tnats hmwk ||
1. OK is a compound word, that is to say, a lexical item made up of two elements that
belong together. Each letter is a noun, therefore each deserves to be stressed.
2. <tonights> is an example of the possessive case. The last sound in the base form is
voiceless /t/, so it demands a voiceless /s/. (See the rule for the formation of plural
countable nouns, nouns in the genitive and the third person singular simple present
tense).
3. Homework is another compound word. This time, the primary stress falls on the first
element and there is a secondary stress on the second element. Whats the difference
between a primary and a secondary stress? The primary stress is the one that changes
the melody of intonation. If you say Homework! as an exclamation, your voice will fall
on HOME. If you say Homework? as a question, your voice will start rising as from
HOME.

Francisco Zabala - 2014

CLASS:

Aw!

kls || ||
1. The word class is special because it is an exception to the Basic Vowel Pattern and the
double consonant rule. Some words, which we call BATH words, take the long BATH
vowel .@9. in General British.

DEVIL:

Algebra. X to the nth plus Y to the nth

dev()l || ldbr || eks t i en | pls wa t i en |


1. Here we can find more weak forms. The word <to> is used in its pre-consonantal weak
form. The word <the> is used in its pre-vocallic weak form. Compare: tu eat .st !h9s., to
see .s? !rh9 .. The man .C? !lzm., the ant .Ch !zms..
equals Z to the nth. Well, you're never gonna use that, are you?

ikwlz zid t i en || wel j nev n juz t | ju ||


1. The contraction <youre> is always .iN9.. (See contractions chart).
2. <gonna> is a casual form, so it is unstressed.
3. The demonstratives that, this, those, these are always strong. They may optionally be
stressed.
4. The auxiliary verb <are> is strong here because this is a short yes-no question. In these
structures the auxiliary is always strong because we stress them to focus on their
polarity (i.e. yes or no?).
Imperialism and the First World War. Well, what's done is done, I say.

mprilz()m | n fst wld w || wel wts dn z dn | a se ||


1. In <world> and <war> we can see how troublesome <w> affects <a, o>.
2. <Well> is an example of the Basic Vowel Pattern.
3. Wh- words tend to be strong, regardless of whether theyre grammar or content words.
4. <Done> is an exception to the silent <-e> rule. The previous vowel doesnt say its
name in this case. Many words got fossilized in the history of English.
5. <Say> illustrates how the first vowel letter says its name.
No point thinking about it now.

n pnt k bat t na ||
1. In <no> the vowel says its name.
2. The <-ing> ending is always .HM.. The final <-ng> combination is always .M..
3. The word about is indeed a grammar word. However, its not monosyllabic. As a result,
we need to stress one of its syllables. This stress requires a strong vowel.

Francisco Zabala - 2014

German, French, Spanish: ja ja, oui oui, s s.

dmn | frent | spn | j j | wi wi | si si ||


1. <German> is a compound word whose ending is weak. Many old words end in
unstressed <-man, -men>, so they take schwa.
2. <French> is an example of the Basic Vowel Pattern.
3. <ja, oui, si> are not English words.
It's nonsense. Everyone speaks English anyway, and if they don't, they ought to.

ts nns()ns | evriwn spiks l eniwe || n f e dnt | e t tu||


1. <Everyone> and <anyway> are compound words. Happy .h. is used at the end of the
words <every> and <any> because these are word-final, unstressed syllables.
2. <n> is always .M. before a word internal .f..
3. <Dont> takes a strong form because this contains the negative adverb <not>. Also, it is
a frequent exception to the Basic Vowel Pattern, because the vowel says its name in this
case.
4. The word <to> is in the strong form here because it is followed by a syntactic gap. In
other words, theres ellipsis here: They ought to [speak English].
So, no homework tonight. But I want you to watch a lot of television,

s | n hmwk tnat || bt a wnt ju t wt lt v telv()n |


1. The ending <-sion> takes .Y. if its preceded by a vowel sound (e.g. vision .!uHY'?(m.),
and .R. if its preceded by a consonant sound (e.g. tension .!sdmR'?(m.).
don't neglect your video games, and I'll see you in the morning.

dn(t) nlekt vdi emz | n al si ju | n mn ||


1. The speaker goes quickly over <neglect your>, that is why she merges the edges of these
words. The original .mH!fkdjs iN9. fuses .s. and .i., which results in .sR.. This is called
ASSIMILATION, an optional phonological process that makes words run more smoothly.
Shall we say ten, ten thirty? No point getting up too early, is there?

()l wi se | ten | ten ti || n pnt et p tu li | z e ||


CLASS:

Yes!

kls ||

jes /

Francisco Zabala - 2014

McVities Original
In England we have lousy weather, but the girls are always half naked. We live on an
island, but you get there by train. We have a Queen, but her husbands only a Prince.
We built the European Community, but in the end, we kept the Pound. We have
dominated the world, but also we like to be dominated. We invented football, but our
national team is run by an Italian. We have the most ridiculous police uniforms, but
somehow it seems to work. We love a well-tailored suit, but we also love a well-tailored
dress. We dont know how to cook, but we make good biscuits.

Analysis
McVities Original

/mkvtiz rd()n()l ||
1. The title <Mc-> or <Mac> tends to be unstressed, especially if the next syllable is
stressed.
2. <Vities>: the endings <-y, -ie> are normally unstressed and final, so they take /i/. This
surname is irregular because this ending does not make the previous vowel say its
name. Proper names are quite unpredictable!
In England we have lousy weather, but the girls are always half naked.

n lnd | wi hv lazi we || bt lz | r lwez hf nekd ||


1. <England>: The ending <-land> is weak in old words, so it takes a schwa. The word-

internal <ng> cluster always takes .Mf..


2. The word <have> is strong here because its a main verb. Its an exception to the silent <-e> rule
because it takes .z., that is, the previous vowel doesnt say its name.
3. <lousy> is a good example of how /z/ is used when letter <s> occurs between vowels or voiced
sounds.
4. The verb to <are> is weak because the verb to be is normally so. It is interesting to note that
the final <r> is actually pronounced when the following word starts with a vowel. We call this
linking /r/.
5. <half> takes .@9. because this is a BATH WORD. In this case, the <l> is silent.

Francisco Zabala - 2014

6. The word <naked> is not a verb, but an adjective. Thats why we add .Hc. to the base form, not
just

.c..

Compare:

was

blessed

(verb)

by

the

blessed

(adjective)

virgin.

.`H v?y !akdrs a`H C? !akdrHc !u29cYHm.

We live on an island, but you get there by train.

wi lv n n alnd | btu et e | ba tren ||


1. The verb <to live> is an exception to the silent <e> rule (not the adjective, though A live
concert .? !k`Hu !jPmr?s.).
2. The word <on> is a grammar word but it is always strong .Pm/.
3. Notice that theres a silent <s> in <island>.
4. The sequence <but you> presents ASSIMILATION: the final .s. merges with the following .i. and
the result is .sR. (.a?s it = a?sRt.).
5. <get> takes .d. because of the Basic Vowel Pattern.
6. <There> is a good example of how radical <r> and silent <e> get together: the result is a
diphthong .d?.7. <Train> has two vowel letters together, and the first one says its name.

We have a Queen, but her husbands only a Prince.

wi hv kwin || bt (h) hzbndz | nli prns ||


1. In <only>, the magic <y> makes the previous vowel say its name.
2. <Prince> takes a short vowel because its an exception to the silent <e> rule.

We built the European Community, but in the end, we kept the Pound.

wi blt | jrpin kmjunti | bt n i end | wi kept pand ||


1. <built> behaves like a Basic Vowel Pattern example. We might say that the <u> is silent.
2. In the word <European>, we can hear that its main stress is on the 3rd syllable. The
Teutonic Rule of stressing tells us that there cant be two unstressed initial syllables in
an English word. To solve this problem we apply the rule of Alternation: if the primary
stress is on the 3rd syllable, then the secondary stress is likely to be found on the 1st
syllable.

Francisco Zabala - 2014

We have dominated the world, but also we like to be dominated.

wi (h)v dmnetd | wld || bt ls | wi lak t bi dmnetd ||


1. <have> is a weak form here because it isnt a main verb, its an auxiliary. Its so weak that it can
drop both the .g. and the weak vowel schwa.
2. The verb <dominate> is stressed on its first syllable. The ending <-ate> is strong.

We invented football, but our national team is run by an Italian.

wi nventd ftbl | bt a n()n()l tim | z rn | ba n tljn ||


1. The verb <to invent> ends in a .s., so the past tense <ed> adds a whole syllable, .Hc..
2. The word <football> is acompound word. Although the main stress falls on the first syllable,
both elements are strong.
3. <run> is an example of the Basic Vowel Pattern.

We have the most ridiculous police uniforms, but somehow

wi hv mst rdkjls | plis junfmz | bt smha |

it seems to work.

t simz t wk ||

We love a well-tailored suit, but we also love a well-tailored dress.

wi lv wel teld sut | bt wi ls lv | wel teld dres ||


1. <dress> takes .r. because 99% of the times <ss> is .r., not .y.-

We dont know how to cook, but we make good biscuits.

wi dnt n ha t kk | bt wi mek d bskts /