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The Sounds of the World's Languages

ISBN: 978-0-631-19815-4
450 pages
February 1996, Wiley-Blackwell
The Sounds of the World
This book describes all the known ways in which the sounds of the world's languages differ. Encapsulating the work of two leading figures in the field, it will be a standard work of reference for researchers in phonetics, linguistics and speech science for many years to come. The scope of the book is truly global, with data drawn from nearly 400 languages, many of them investigated at first hand by the authors.
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List of Figures.

List of Tables.


1. The Sounds of the World's Languages.

2. Places of Articulation.

3. Stops.

4. Nasals and Nasalized Consonants.

5. Fricatives.

6. Laterals.

7. Rhotics.

8. Clicks.

9. Vowels.

10. Multiple Articulatory Gestures.


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The authors are respectively Professor of Phonetics Emeritus and Adjunct Professor of Linguistics at the University of California, Los Angeles. Peter Ladefoged's books include the standard introductory phonetics textbook A Course in Phonetics 3e (Harcourt Brace, 1993)
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  • The definitive reference work on the sounds of the world's languages.
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"Scholarly account which frequently challenges many of the traditional concepts in phonetic and linguistic theory." W. J. Hardcastle, Queen Margaret College

"The Sounds of the World's Languages provides a detailed description of the articulatory processes of human speech production; it provides a descriptive backup to the UCLA speech database; perhaps most importantly it presents descriptions of the vast variety of sounds that occur in the world, and offers evidence, discussion and references which are relevant to many crucial theoretical issues at the interface of phonetics and phonology. It is a boon to all teachers and researchers in the field." W. Barry, Universitat des Saarlandes, Saarbrucken, Germany

"The Sounds of the World's Languages draws on a wealth of published and unpublished sources to determine the phonetic contrasts that support lexical minimal pairs. It is the most comprehensive treatment to date. The book is extensively documented with a variety of experimental phonetic techniques. Phonologists will find the book of special interest. There are numerous marked generalizations to be contemplated and very useful discussion of the tension between increasing the inventory of sound types versus more elaborate scenarios of gestural timing. It is a book all students of phonology and phonetics will want to own." Michael Kenstowicz, MIT

"It is well written, superbly researched and it will make a mark in the halls of linguistics publishing. It is a book a vast range of linguists, phoneticians, speech scientists and others will need to have on their shelves." John A Goldsmith, University of Chicago

"An instant standard reference work that belongs on the desk of every linguist who has interest in what sounds human languages make use of. I am unable to present a single significant criticism of this book." Geoffrey S. Nathan

"Ladefoged & maddison have put together a well written, well organized volume that is certain to become a standard reference in the field" Katharine Davis, University of Washington

" instant standard reference work that belongs on the desk of every linguist who has an interest in what sounds human languages make use of......I am unable to present a single significant criticism of this book"Geoffrey Nathan, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale

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