Felaco – IK6QGE
AND PHONETIC TRANSCRIPTION
QSOs in foreign languages
am involved in
a QSO in a foreign language, I find it helpful to have in front of me
a list containing the sentences that I will probably hear from other
hams and those that I will need for the answers.
This list should
be a kind of handbook available at a glance, containing the few dozen
phrases that are used in most QSOs and concerning
call signs, names, QTHs, signals, equipment, QSL cards, greetings and
course, the list must contain also the Italian translation of the
words and phrases that I will probably use and should also have some
pronunciation notes, both to facilitate the understanding of what I
hear and to allow me to get an idea
pronunciation of what I'm going to say.
We are just going to
analyse, below, the way such a list can be prepared, taking
for granted the
possibility of finding somewhere the phrases to be used in the
various stages of the QSO and reserving, once and for all, the
necessary attention to the problems that arise when you try to write
down the pronunciation of words.
down the pronunciation
we decide to write down our pronunciation notes using the symbols of
the Italian alphabet, we soon realize that we'll never be able to do
it. Even with Italian words, some
difficulties are immediately met when using the
graphic symbols representing several different sounds (open or close
"e", open or close "o", "g" as in
"gatto" or as in "gelo", "c" as in
"cane" or as in "cena" and so on).
imagine what happens when we try to write down the pronunciation of
words belonging to languages that require the production of sounds
that are never used in Italian.
simple example, let's consider the definite article the
in English. Let's suppose we know its pronunciation and want to write
it down. How can we do it? Using the symbols of the Italian alphabet,
we will probably be forced to write
[de]. (Let's take note that from now on we will propose in italics
the words written in the language they belong to, and in brackets
However, if we ask an Englishman to read the
pronunciation note [de] and ask him to tell us the word it refers to,
we would hardly be answered that it's the article the.
point is that we do not have the symbols needed to write down the
correct pronunciation of English words. We'd need a larger alphabet
containing the symbols required to represent all the sounds that can
be produced by human beings in any language.
Some professors of
linguistics studied this problem and decided, at the end of the
nineteenth century, to
International Phonetic Association in order to elaborate an alphabet
that contained a symbol for each sound, without ambiguities and
approximations. Of course, they spoke as linguists do and, like all
specialists, had a specific jargon made of "phonemes",
"allophones", "plosive", "palatal",
"rolled" and so on. However,
this does not matter to us. We
will continue to say that we need graphic symbols to represent in
writing the sounds which may be found in the words we want to use.
short, this International Phonetic Association produced,
at the end,
its alphabet and called it International Phonetic Alphabet.
looked at the extended form of this alphabet, would surely be worried
along at the idea of using it to take pronunciation notes for a QSO. Actually,
matter may be much simpler. We will use almost always the Italian
symbols that we already know and will add only about thirty ones to
eliminate ambiguities and to represent the sounds that are not used
in our language.
we will learn to write the pronunciation of the English word the
as [ðə] and not as [de] and we will know exactly how to read our
will see that writing pronunciation notes is not that difficulty we
can imagine. For now, though,
let's try to eliminate some possible confusion: the words written
using the alphabet of any language are
one matter while
pronunciation notes written in square brackets (or between bars)
using the International Phonetic Alphabet
are quite a different matter.
In short, we could use the International Phonetic Alphabet to write
down the pronunciation of words of Arabic or Russian or Chinese or
whatever other language and we could pronounce them perfectly
without claiming, as a result, that we know Arabic or Russian or
International Phonetic Alphabet
our purposes, we can simply ignore
all the symbols that represent sounds belonging to languages that we
will probably never use in our QSOs. We must pay,
however, a special attention to the symbols used to write down the
pronunciation of the sounds that compose the English words, which are
certainly the most frequently used in international radio
can simplify, where possible, the list of vowels and use the symbols
of the Italian alphabet (a, i, u) to which we only add:
close e (é)
as in the Italian word velo [velo];
as in the Italian word cartello [kar'tεllɔ];
intermediate sound between a
as in the English word map
as in the Italian word Roma ['roma];
as in the Italian word cotto [cɔtto]
or in the English word golf
pronounced with the lips protruded as to pronounce u,
as in the French word bureau
[by'ro] or in the German word für [fyr];
intermediate vowel between a
as in the English word run [rʌn];
that is the final sound of many words in some dialects of southern
or as in the English word [ðə];
semivowel, as in the Italian word ieri
['jεri] or in the English word you
semivowel, as in the Italian word tuorlo ['twɔrlo]
or in the English word water ['wɔ:tə].
can use the symbols of the Italian alphabet (b, d, f, h, l, m, n, p,
r, s, t, v) to which we add:
as in thing [θiŋ],
similar to the sound [t] but with the air filtering through the
as in that [ðæt], similar
to the sound [d] but with the air filtering through the teeth;
as in the Italian word scena ['ʃεna] or
in the English word shelf [ʃelf];
as in the French word jour
[ʒu:ʀ] or I the English word measure ['meʒə];
as in the Italian word cielo
['tʃεlo] or in the English word chat [tʃæt];
as in the Italian word cane ['kane];
as in the Italian word gelo ['dʒεlo];
as in the Italian word gatto ['gatto];
as in the Spanish word Juan
[ŋ] velar n,
as in the Italian word inganno [iŋ'ganno] or
in the English word writing ['raitiŋ];
as in the Italian word giglio ['dʒiʎo];
as in the Italian word gnomo ['ɲɔmo]
- [gn] is pronounced, however, [g] followed by [n], as in the English
[ts] voiceless z,
as in the Italian word inizio [i'nitsio].
as in the Italian word zona ['dzɔna]
as in the Italian word sole ['sole].
as in the Italian word rosa ['rɔza].
will use the apostrophe ['] to indicate that the syllable that
follows is the one with the strongest stress and a colon [:] to
indicate that the preceding vowel is long.
have, now, the symbols we can use to remove ambiguities or to
represent certain sounds
which we are not used to.
For the rest, we will continue to use the symbols of the Italian
Obviously, the list is far from complete, but there is
no reason to complicate our lives with investigations that would go
beyond our needs.
We can try, at this point, to write the
pronunciation of some phrases that
used in QSOs.
this frequency in use, please? [iz
ðis 'fri:kwənsi in ju:z pli:z];
like [d] but with the air filtering through the teeth, stress on
['fri:], [i:] long vowel, [w] semivowel as in water,
[ə] as in Abruzzo dialect [panə],
[j] semivowel as in ieri,
[u:] long vowel, [z] like [s] but voiced.
long vowel , [k] as in cane,
semivowel [j] as in ieri
and stress on
['u], semivowel [w] as in water.
is Italy Kilo Six Quebec Golf Echo
[ðis iz 'itəli 'ki:ləu siks kwi'bεk gɔlf 'εkəu];
open vowel as in cartello, [ɔ]
open vowel as in cotto.
name is Charles
[mai 'neim iz tʃa:ls];
as in rosa,
[tʃ] as in n cielo,
[a:] long vowel.
QTH is Manchester
[mai kj'u ti eitʃ iz man'tʃestə];
on ['tʃe], final sound in [ə] as in Abruzzo or Neapolitan dialects
here, in Bournemouth
hiə in 'bɔ:nməθ];
on ['we] and ['bɔ:], [ə] as in Abruzzo or Neapolitan dialects
you very much
ju: veri mʌtʃ];
to the sound [t] but with the air filtering through the teeth, [æ]
intermediate vowel between [a]
[ʌ] intermediate vowel between [a] and [o], [tʃ] as in cielo.
report is five and nine [jɔ:
ri'pɔ:t iz faiv ænd
open vowel as in cotto,
but long, stress on ['pɔ:], [z] like an [s] but voiced.
antenna is a magnetic loop
iz ə mæg'netik
to be pronounced as [g] followed by [n], stresses on ['te] and ['ne
name is Juan
(Spanish name) [mai neim iz xu'an];
similar to [k] but with the air filtering between the palate and the
back of the tongue.
tu llamada ['graθias pɔr tu ʎa'mada];
as in the Italian word giglio ['dʒiʎo].
can do many activities using the radio, but probably you mainly talk
and listen to other hams. In the context of such
activity, dealing with pronunciation is not a waste of time: I am convinced
and I hope I have convinced
To conclude and to continue to avoid confusion, it
seems a good idea to highlight the fact that some dictionaries use
other phonetic transcription systems that have not, however, the
completeness and accuracy that linguists recognize to the
International Phonetic Alphabet.
If someone should wish to take
one of the excellent handbooks for QSOs available online or in
amateur radio shows, some of which are
in three or four languages,
and integrate it with the pronunciation notes written using the
International Phonetic Alphabet, this short article would not be
completely useless and we could have a new tool, practical and easy
to be used during our QSOs in a foreign language.
The Principles of the International
Phonetic Association, Department of Phonetics, University
College, London, 1970.
Daniel Jones, English Pronouncing Dictionary, Everyman's Reference
Library, London, 1964.
Angelo Gentile, Principi di trascrizione fonetica, Liguori, Napoli, 1966.
Wikipedia, http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Phonetic_Association .
Università degli studi di Cassino, Dispensa di fonetica,