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canIPA Natural Phonetics & Tonetics

Luciano Canepari's Website

:!: Since March 1, 2015, only the English version of this website has been operational. The other versions (Italian, French, and Portuguese) have been discontinued. :!:


:!: Please write exclusively to My other mailbox has been discontinued. :!:


“Les langues sont faites pour être parlées, l’écriture ne sert que de supplément à la parole … L’écriture n’est que la représentation de la parole, il est bizarre qu’on donne plus de soin à déterminer l’image que l’objet.” (J.-J. Rousseau)

This site has been designed with the following main goals in mind:

canIPA Natural Phonetics

To be of any practical use in the learning/teaching of pronunciation, but also as a plausible basis for any successive abstract speculation/theorizing, phonetics should be ‹natural›, in the sense that it should be possible to do it without the help of any instruments other than one’s own articulatory apparatus and ears. It should also draw upon our inborn, instinctive ability to discern sounds. In fact, we all possess such an ability, or at least we used to before being, as it were, ‹corrupted› by conventional spelling. When, as children, we wanted to write no instead of know, or definately for definitely, in keeping with the way we pronounce those words today, we were naturally doing phonetics (or doing Natural Phonetics).

canIPA Natural Phonetics is a method to bring the phonetic skills, which we instinctively possessed as children, back to our consciousness.

To put it more scientifically, we could say that Natural Phonetics aims at achieving the essence of linguistic sounds:

  • by determining their exact articulations through the awareness of what our mouths do to produce them;
  • by showing them with accurate articulatory diagrams (i.e. orograms, vocograms, labiograms, palatograms, dorsograms), and auditory diagrams (mainly tonograms);
  • by assigning them appropriate phonetic symbols (which must not be too general with the risk of being useless).

All people interested in sounds of languages could profit from discussing phonetics along these lines. Illustrations of the framework can be seen in Canepari (Manuale di pronuncia italiana), (Dizionario di pronuncia italiana), (Fonetica e tonetica naturali), (Manuale di pronuncia), (Natural Phonetics & Tonetics) and (A Handbook of Pronunciation). By way of illustration, excerpts from these books are provided in the PDF files section (continuously updated with samples of work in progress, see here).

For further clarification, a selection of frequently asked questions is shown in the FAQ section.

Speech sound collection

It would be useful to have recordings of the most important regional, social and foreign accents of the following languages which are in great demand for teaching-learning: English, French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish, besides: Greek, Italian, Dutch, Russian, Arabic, (Mandarin) Chinese, Japanese, Hindi… but others will be appreciated as well. They may concern either broad regional or marked social accents of native speakers, on the one hand, and broad immigrants or marked foreign accents, on the other hand. Larger nations will naturally have several interesting accents.

I will be happy to receive any proposals. The recordings could be included on this website and made downloadable (see the Italian Sound Files section) by permission of the collectors.

In this way, my sound collection could profitably be enriched to allow fuller descriptions (see here).

Interested people could collect not only the typical accent of their mother tongue, but others as well, and not only for their mother tongue. Coordinated planning, however, is mandatory. If you’re interested, please write to (my other mailbox has been discontinued).

Also, it would be interesting to identify the most numerous immigrant communities in the nations where the following languages are spoken: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Greek, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Dutch, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish (but, again, others could be included) in order to describe their accents.

Pronunciation studies

I’d like to encourage all those people with a bent for language sounds to engage in the preparation of studies/publications on pronunciation: dictionaries, handbooks, essays, sketches. At least one native speaker is needed who has a thorough knowledge of phonetics and phonemics (or is willing to acquire it) and knows what to include. If necessary, I could cooperate. The sketches and essays, as well as extracts from the dictionaries and handbooks (at least during their preparation), could be shown in the PDF Files section of this website.

The dictionaries are to give many (first, family, and place) names and all the inflected forms of common words that can cause pronunciation doubts either to foreigners or native speakers. For a list of model pronouncing dictionaries, see here.

Among the most needed are those for Arabic, (Mandarin) Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Turkish, Vietnamese.

The handbooks could be similar to Canepari (Manuale di pronuncia italiana), which deals extensively with the pronunciation of neutral (or standard) Italian and of its 22 regional variants. After English PronunciationS / The Pronunciation of English around the World, four more monographs have been planned about (neutral, mediatic, international, regional and foreign accents of Spanish, French, Portuguese, and German.

Other much needed handbooks could be on: Arabic, (Mandarin) Chinese, Greek, Hindi, Japanese, Persian, Russian, Turkish, Vietnamese.

Examples of essays/papers are those on the 12 languages given in Canepari (Manuale di pronuncia) and (A Handbook of Pronunciation): Arabic, (Mandarin) Chinese, English, Esperanto, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish.

Other useful essays could be on: Burmese, Czech, Danish, Finnish, Greek, Hausa, Hebrew, Hungarian, Indonesian, Korean, Dutch, Norwegian, Persian, Polish, Turkish, Slovak, Slovenian, Somali, Swahili, Swedish, Vietnamese, Wolof.

Examples of sketches, or phonosyntheses can be seen in the second part of Canepari (Fonetica e tonetica naturali) and (Natural Phonetics & Tonetics), in some chapters of Canepari (Manuale di pronuncia) and (A Handbook of Pronunciation), as well as here on this site. They are arrived at by working with recordings after seeing the most useful descriptions available on the language in question. They necessarily include one or more vowel diagrams, a consonant table, the four basic intonation diagrams of canIPA Natural Phonetics, and a short presentation of the main phonetic/phonological features. They vary in length from a few lines to three pages; generally, though, the figures provided ‹speak for themselves›.

start.1533798149.txt.gz · Last modified: 2022/01/28 23:37 (external edit)