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Pronunciation Keys in American Dictionaries

Pronunciation Keys in American Dictionaries Working Knowledge: Hard Problems ofLexicography Pronunciation Keys in American Dictionaries William A. Kretzschmar, Jr. University of Georgia 1he principal American desktop dictionaries all use pronunciTation keys that are designed to make pronunciation tranX 3 scriptions as immediately recognizable and intuitive as possible to dieir readers. The dictionaries' editors believe that their pronunciation keys either capitalize on English spelling or take advantage of traditional American diacritical marking practices. There is, however, considerable variation among the prominent dictionaries, especially in their treatments of low and back vowels and diphthongs. Some editors prefer heavy use of diacritical marks, including several marks more than the traditional use of macron (and sometimes breve) to mark "long" and "short" vowels. Especially among the diphthongs, there is also variation in the choice of W or VC pairs, presumably because editors have chosen different common spellings as basic to the pronunciation. The result is the situation in American lexicography where no reader, whether naive or expert, can know what the transcriptions in the popular dictionaries represent without referring to the pronunciation key. Even when readers consult the key, they find sample words provided to illustrate die symbols, not internationally-agreed-upon IPA symbols or other means to represent http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Dictionaries: Journal of the Dictionary Society of North America Dictionary Society of North America

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Publisher
Dictionary Society of North America
Copyright
Copyright © The Dictionary Society of North America
ISSN
2160-5076
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Abstract

Working Knowledge: Hard Problems ofLexicography Pronunciation Keys in American Dictionaries William A. Kretzschmar, Jr. University of Georgia 1he principal American desktop dictionaries all use pronunciTation keys that are designed to make pronunciation tranX 3 scriptions as immediately recognizable and intuitive as possible to dieir readers. The dictionaries' editors believe that their pronunciation keys either capitalize on English spelling or take advantage of traditional American diacritical marking practices. There is, however, considerable variation among the prominent dictionaries, especially in their treatments of low and back vowels and diphthongs. Some editors prefer heavy use of diacritical marks, including several marks more than the traditional use of macron (and sometimes breve) to mark "long" and "short" vowels. Especially among the diphthongs, there is also variation in the choice of W or VC pairs, presumably because editors have chosen different common spellings as basic to the pronunciation. The result is the situation in American lexicography where no reader, whether naive or expert, can know what the transcriptions in the popular dictionaries represent without referring to the pronunciation key. Even when readers consult the key, they find sample words provided to illustrate die symbols, not internationally-agreed-upon IPA symbols or other means to represent

Journal

Dictionaries: Journal of the Dictionary Society of North AmericaDictionary Society of North America

Published: Apr 4, 2006

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