glossary of terms used on the ioE website
click on an entry to see a definition
We use it every day, even though it's quite possibly the world's worst ordering system! Click here for more.
There are two kinds of phonetic transcription relating to IPA: broad and narrow. Here at ioE, we use a broad transcription. A narrow transcription includes more specific details about the sounds which, for our purposes, are usually not necessary to know.
Here's an example. Hold your palm about an inch in front of your mouth and say the word pit. You should feel a puff of breath when you make the /p/ sound. Now leave your hand in place and pronounce the word rip. Unless you exaggerate the pronunciation, you will not feel that same puff of breath, called aspiration, on your hand when you get to the end of the word.
If you transcribe narrowly, you mark the difference between the aspirated /p/ and the unaspirated /p/. When you transcribe broadly, you don't. Most of the time for us, a /p/ is a /p/.
The difference between broad and narrow transcription is a matter of how closely you pay attention to the sounds you are examining.
A measure of the relationship between the number of words used and the amount of meaning conveyed. Platform English generally favors a high compression ratio (more meaning expressed in fewer words).
The word corpus in Latin means 'body' as in the human body. Over time, we have metaphorically extended the idea of a body to other concepts, such as body of water, body of evidence, body of data. In the study of language, corpus linguists examine "bodies" of language and catalogue the details exhaustively. Click here for more.
A vowel sound that starts in one zone in your mouth and ends in another. For example, the vowel sound in the word "fly" goes from low back to high front.
More in the sounds of language section.
Basically, a list. Like a dictionary, a glossary provides definitions of unfamiliar words. Unlike a dictionary, which attempts to define all the words in the English language, a glossary is limited to all the words in a particular document. There can be glossaries in legal documents, instruction manuals, books about school subjects, and websites.
The minimal distinctive unit of sound in a language. Don't confuse a phoneme with a letter of the alphabet. For more on sounds and letters, check our sounds of language section.
An acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.
We are used to hearing about “long” and “short” vowels from early schooling. This description of vowel sounds in English was borrowed centuries ago from European scholars studying ancient texts in Greek and Latin. It never really worked well for English, as we see on the IOE site in the many spelling problems learners encounter. The tense/lax distinction was developed by the linguistics subspecialty, phonetics. It is based on physiology. If you alternate between pronouncing the two high front vowels, for example, you should be able to notice how the tension varies from one to the other. This will be true of all the pairs (high and middle front, high and middle back).
Isn’t it interesting that most of the spelling confusion in English involves the pairs of vowels with this tense/lax opposition. Hmm...