Reverse detail from Kakelbont MS 1, a fifteenth-century French Psalter. This image is in the public domain. Daniel Paul O'Donnell

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Phonetic spelling exercise

Posted: Sep 10, 2016 09:09;
Last Modified: Sep 10, 2016 09:09

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This exercise is an experiment in “phonetic” spelling, that is to say the use of orthography to capture sound.

In doing this, we are trying to get a sense for how people in previous eras might have used one spelling system to transcribe another language—e.g. use French spelling to write Middle English, or adapt Latin letters to spell Germanic languages.

This is not an exercise in the use of modern Phonetic Alphabets (e.g. IPA). If you know phonetic transcription, try to ignore that knowledge here. You should try to spell words using the sound values associated with Modern English letters and letter combinations.

  1. Find a brief passage of spoken or sung text on YouTube or other video sharing service. The text can be in standard North American English, but it is probably better if it is in an North American regional variety (e.g. Southern U.S. or Newfoundland, for example) or from somewhere other than North America (South Africa, Trinidad of Jamaica, the U.K., New Zealand or Australia).
  2. In a Moodle Blog, write out the passage so that you spell things the way they sound. Use sound values associated with Modern English spelling rather than a recognised phonetic alphabet (so ee perhaps rather than /i/ for the sound in sleep).
  3. Make sure you embed the video into your Blog posting so that others can compare your work against the original.
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