making a place for data in english class
The first thing we need to do is collect some data. For data in our investigation, we will be looking at the sounds of English. We will NOT be looking at spelling or anything to do with the letters of the alphabet. Why not? Well, there are problems with English spelling that will get in our way.
For example, in a word like pat, there are three letters and three individual sounds. If we add the letter e at the end, though, we get four letters but still only three individual sounds. In a word like though, there are six letters but only two distinct sounds. And of those two sounds, there is no t sound, no h sound, no u sound, and no g sound either.
There’s another problem too. In the English alphabet, one symbol (that is, one letter) can represent more than one sound. Take the letter p for example. It can be used to represent two entirely different sounds, as in philosophy and punch, or even no sound at all, as in pneumonia.
Question: If we reject the letters of the alphabet as a means of referring to individual sounds, how can we accurately represent the sounds that make up our data?
Answer: We need a new notational system. Our substitute for the English alphabet shouldn’t allow any of its symbols to represent more than one different sound.
This ideal system would have only one symbol for one sound, to avoid confusion.
Fortunately for us, such a system has already been invented and has been in world-wide use for over a hundred years: the International Phonetic Alphabet, or IPA. You can see the whole glorious thing here--but don’t click away just yet. There will be plenty of time to learn the entire IPA for English, but for the purpose of answering the question at the top of the page, you only need to learn one.
Whenever you see this IPA symbol /i/, it represents the last vowel sound in the word gas-o-line. The rest of the IPA symbols should be perfectly clear.
Torture the data, and it will confess to anything
It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data.
“Data is the new oil? No: Data is the new soil.”