How do you pronounce biopic, synod, and Breughel? - and why? Do our cake and archaic sound the same? Where does the stress go in stalagmite? What's odd about the word epergne? Pontcysyllte is obviously Welsh, but Penge is Welsh too! How cool is Caol in the Highlands of Scotland? What can Wesley's hymns tell us about sound change in English? How do people pronounce Wroclaw in Poland? How can anyone manage to say Gdynia as just two syllables? Why is the village of Frith in the island of Montserrat usually pronounced as if spelt Frits? What embarrassing faux pas in English did a Russian conglomerate make? Should I bild a cubbard instead of building a cupboard? How should we capitalize an exclamation mark, and why might we need to? What's a depressor consonant? As a finale, the author writes a letter to his 16-year-old self.
John Wells is Emeritus Professor of Phonetics at University College London and a Fellow of the British Academy. His interests centre on the phonetic and phonological description of languages but also extend to lexicography and language teaching. For seven years he wrote a daily phonetic blog. Based in Britain at UCL throughout his career, he has lectured in many countries around the world.
Part I. Words, Names, People and Places: 1. Unusual words; 2. Food and drink words; 3. Interesting words; 4. Names; 5. People; 6. Places; 7. Abroad; 8. Home from abroad; Part II. Sounds and Letters: 9. Allophones; 10. Phonetic processes; 11. Spelling; 12. Transcription; Part III. Applied Phonetics: 13. Classification; 14. EFL; 15. Accents; 16. Lexical stress; 17. Connected speech; 18. Texts in transcription; Part IV. Roundup: 19. Rhetoric; 20. Language mosaic; 21. Postscript.