I refer you to a horror story reported in Alex Rotatori’s blog. The above is part of a page in an English phrasebook published in Italy by a respectable publisher.
It’s not just a question of possible typing errors or misprints such as [intʃ] instead of [ɪntʃ] inch. What we have here is gross ignorance on the part of the author about the ‘phonemic spelling’ of English words.
• Leaving aside the Scots and Ulstermen who have no GOOSE-FOOT contrast, every native speaker of English pronounces foot as fʊt, not fuːt. Indeed, I chose FOOT as my keyword for the lexical set that includes put, push, and good.
• Every NS of English pronounces pint as paɪnt (i.e. with the PRICE vowel), not pɪnt.
• Every NS pronounces gallon with -lən, not -lɪən.
• No NS of English pronounces ounce as oːnts. We all use the MOUTH vowel, which may range depending on our accent from [æə] through the customary [aʊ] and [ɑʊ] to [ɔʊ], but is never oː.
• As far as I know, no NS pronounces Fahrenheit as ˈfɑːnhaɪt. Most of us say ˈfærənhaɪt.
• The citation form of the plural of degree ends in z. OK, there may be some contextual devoicing, but the appropriate entry in a list such as this is -ˈɡriːz.
• Because of the operation of the ‘stress shift’ or rhythm rule, for a NS the stress pattern of eighty-six in the expression 86 degrees is normally TUM-ti-tum rather than the citation tum-ti-TUM given here.
Of the thirty transcribed forms in this tiny fragment of the phrasebook, fifteen are wrong.
The Pons Travel Kit Inglese, according to the cover, comes con Audio Trainer. I do hope they got a native speaker to make the recordings. If they did, and listened to what the NS said, they would have been able to avoid these howlers.
As I say, Pons is a respectable publisher, based in Germany. They ought to be ashamed of themselves.
I think teachers of English pronunciation need to give a lot of attention to establishing the correct target for the pronunciation of each word in the student’s English vocabulary. Knowing the spelling is not enough. We’re all aware that the relationship between spelling and pronunciation is less than perfect. But we often don’t realize how insidious the misleading effect of the orthography can be. Wild guesses are not the route to follow.
Presumably the author of the phrasebook knows English fairly well. He or she may even have a degree in the subject. But clearly this relates to the written language rather than the spoken.
It’s not just a matter of learning to make the sounds of English in an acceptable way. It’s also a matter of knowing which sounds ought to be used in which words. And that’s what often gets neglected.