We’ve almost completed the first phonetics class where we learn to distinguish and repeat various sounds that may occur in a language. In general, we start with the most familiar sounds in a group that we use in English and add the sounds that either don’t exist in English or exist but we don’t think of them as separate sounds, like the schwa or the unaspirated alveopalatal affricate.
As you can imagine, each chapter begins with frustration as we complain that we can’t hear a difference between certain sounds, and certainly can’t make a differential sound. And yet, after six weeks, I feel like an expert in the International Phonetic Alphabet. Phonetics 2 doesn’t happen till second year, when I plan to be headed back to Brazil, so I will not learn all the most interesting and exotic sounds. Nevertheless, what I have learned should help immensely when I’m learning Portuguese.
Here’s a sample of the recording homework from last week: