Learning Some “Manners”

Update: January 30, 2012

Have you ever played the game “Mad Gab”? It is a pretty hilarious game in which one person reads a card that has a seemingly unintelligible jumble of letters like “Tis Coal Eighty”. Then the other teammates madly try to decipher what the word actually is, in this case it’s “Disco Lady”.

This game reminds me a lot of the linguistics course that Lauren and I have recently started called Sounds and Symbols (aka, Phonetics). In this class we learn how to read, write, and understand the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA).

Here is an example of some of the sounds we are learning. In the English language we put the consonants “t” and “h” together to form “th”. We use this symbol in words like “the”, “there”, “through”, etc., but there is a problem with this symbol because “th” can have several different sounds. To demonstrate this, put your fingers on your neck by your vocal chords and say the word “there”. Feel the vibration as you say the “th”? This sound is represented in the IPA by this symbol: [ð]. Now, put your fingers back on your neck and say the word “thistle”. Feel any vibration? You shouldn’t. This sound is represented with the symbol [θ] in IPA. In English we use the same symbol for two different sounds! This would pose a major problem in the translation of a language where the slight difference could mean a totally different word. Consider the words “yeast” and “east”. How confused would you be if someone told you to add “east” to flour to make bread?

The International Phonetic Alphabet divides up all the sounds that the human speech apparatus can make into different “points” and “manners” of articulation. The picture below shows all the different sounds and symbols we will be learning this semester, and someday hope to use to aid us in learning a foreign language.

Sufficiently to say, it has been a mind numbing couple of weeks, but hard as it has been it has also been a whole lot of fun. I always used to get in trouble for making strange noises during class, but now I’m in a class where that’s all we do! Gotta love that.

Until every tribe has heard or Christ calls us home,
Durham, ON

Praise & Prayer
+ We celebrated the wedding of our dear friends, Dan & Cara, at the end of December.
+ We began phonetics class this semester! It’s so much fun, but please pray that we will be able to soak everything in and not become frustrated.
+ Please continue to be praying for our involvement in the youth group; that we will not miss opportunities for evangelism nor become disheartened. Pray that the youth will desire to learn more about God and come to place their trust in Him for their salvation.
+ Please pray for wisdom and direction in future decisions to be made (there are a lot of them!).


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