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  • The Bloomsbury companion to phonetics ed. by Mark J. Jones and Rachael-Anne Knight
  • Maria-Josep Solé
The Bloomsbury companion to phonetics. Ed. by Mark J. Jones and Rachael-Anne Knight. New York: Bloomsbury, 2013. Pp. ix, 314. ISBN: 1441146067. $180.50 (Hb).

This book presents the current state of research in the various subareas of phonetics, and it is also a practical guide to phonetic research. It is written for students and academics who need to become acquainted with current knowledge and methods in phonetic research and its applications. It is introductory in the sense that the material is clearly presented and technical terms are defined, and advanced in that research utilizing a specific methodology or technique is reviewed and discussed. Thus, as the editors explain in the foreword to this volume, ‘[it] will bridge the gap between the introductory textbooks and the more specialist volumes and primary literature’ (1).

The volume presents contributions from leading experts in the field. There is a marked bias toward the UK and the ‘British School’ shown in the selection of contributors and in the chapters on applied phonetics, which, with the exception of the chapter on phonetic technology, describe the state of the art mostly in Britain.

The book comprises fifteen chapters. The initial chapters provide a general overview of current knowledge and research methods in various areas of phonetics (speech perception, speech production, phonetic fieldwork, speech acoustics, speech perception development, voice and phonation, prosody, phonetic universals, and spontaneous speech) and provide useful technical and practical advice. The latter chapters focus on applied phonetics (clinical, forensic, phonetic pedagogy, technology) and new directions in the field.

The introduction offers a useful preview of the book by summarizing the questions examined in each chapter and drawing connections across those questions. Barry Heselwood, Zeki Majeed Hassan, and Mark J. Jones open with a ‘Historical overview of phonetics’. The chapter clearly identifies the origins of fundamental concepts in phonetics—as well as, inter alia, the first modern accounts of vowel and consonant classification, voicing, phonemic systems, and assimilation—contextualized to issues current at the time: prescriptive pronunciation, the description of vernacular languages, spelling reform, universalist approaches, and the physical sciences. The advent of the IPA, sound recording, and acoustic analysis, along with increasing reliance on speech analysis software and modeling, characterize the twentieth century.

Rachael-Anne Knight and Sarah Hawkins, in ‘Research methods in speech perception’, provide guidance and practical advice on designing perceptual experiments. In addition, the chapter illustrates, with reference to published research, various procedures (from identification and discrimination tasks to lexical decision, priming, and gating techniques to neuroimaging and eye-tracking procedures), as well as the linguistic level they are accessing.

In the third chapter, ‘Research methods in speech production’, Marija Tabain presents a clear pedagogical overview of methods and concerns in the study of speech production. Some of the most widely used techniques for examining supralaryngeal and laryngeal articulation are succinctly reviewed (with useful references to papers using the technique), though there are omissions, for example, the nasograph or the velotrace to study velopharyngeal function. Then EPG, EMA, and ultrasound are described in some detail, illustrating the data obtained and the interpretation of the data.

‘Research methods in phonetic fieldwork’, by Andrew Butcher, is a practical guide to phonetic field methods. The very useful suggestions—with a welcome pinch of humor—from an experienced fieldworker will certainly help the researcher avoid many pitfalls. The chapter reviews how phonetic fieldwork has changed in the last few decades and covers its various stages: planning and preparing for the field trip, equipment, audio and visual recording, and gathering articulatory and perceptual data. Butcher gives clear indications as to how different types of techniques (or the data obtained with such techniques) are useful for investigating specific research questions.

In Ch. 5, Dominic Watt presents a clear introduction to ‘Research methods in speech acoustics’. Rather than describing different techniques to analyze the speech signal (e.g. waveform, spectral and spectrographic analysis, cepstrum coefficients, etc.) as is customary, it describes [End Page 967] how...


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