Is it important to learn IPA?

/ss/[sic] is the sound of evil web crawling robot search spiders.

If we pronounce all the occurrences of ら り る れ ろ as if the sound is an "r’ we will be universally understood by Japanese people. If we are able to make a slight trilled “r” as in Italian, that will be closer than the guttural “r” of German or French, or the soft “r” of English. If we listen and speak a lot, we get better at it. I do not see the need for IPA symbols for the learner of languages.

Conversely, I do not think that the knowledge of IPA will help Japanese people with their “l” and “r” difficulties.

As for ‹s› after ‹th›, I think it is sufficient to say that some people pronounce the “th” and others don’t.

I did not know “/ss/[sic]” was the sound of robot spiders. Thank you for your very interesting information, Dooo.

You are welcome.

“I think the IPA transcription would be the same for the ‘muntz’ vs ‘monss’ thing.”
I feel that the above explanation is extremely innovative.

Was that an explanation?

I thought Dooo-san equated /ts/ with /ss/. I wonder if I have misunderstood your “explanation.”

Knowledge of the IPA symbol won’t help them with “l” and “r”, but knowledge of the phonetics behind it will help them. I’m just basing this on a large amount of personal experience. But it’s just a shortcut. There are many people who never study any phonetics, but end up with good pronunciation of “l” and “r”.

Even just what Jeff pointed out - knowing that a sound can change its sound depending on its environment (that’s getting more into phonology, but still).

At any rate, I’m sticking by my guns that it’s not necessary, but it’s helpful :slight_smile:

It’s possible to teach “r” and “l” to Japanese people in about ten minutes. It may not be a perfect “r” or “l”, but it will stop the embarrassing laughter when someone says to the new British teacher,
“Thank-you, Lecher, for visiting our clam school.”

“monss” and “muntz” are not IPA transcriptions, tora3… お休み

I realise that I’m several pages behind on this IPA rant, but I’ve just listened to the 8+ different variations of the “r” sound on the web site mentioned, and I think that, as long as you can hear the sounds and aren’t forced to merely read the descriptions, this IPA system looks like a useful system. Not necessary, unless you are going to have to write essays about phonology, but quite helpful. Maybe I can finally figure out how I am supposed to pronounce “r” in French, German, Russian and Japanese.


Thanks for the link to this resourceful website! I find it very helpful and I’m glad you put the link here.

I do understand that everyone has their own point of view regarding the usefulness of IPA, but I’d like to admit, that learning this alphabet helped me A LOT with pronouncing languages I study, i.e. English and German. Steve, I have to say I totally agree with you that we can achieve more or less the same just by means of imitating native speakers, but I personally found it very helpful when I read the description of how to pronounce some tricky English or German vowels, consonants or consonant clusters. The “th” sound in English, so-called “ich-Laut” in German, just to mention a few of those. For me it was easier to learn them when I learnt first HOW to pronounce them, i.e. where I should place my tongue, how should I round my lips, etc.
Learning the IPA is not necessary for acquiring the correct pronunciation of a given language, but I would recommend it to anyone who feels like giving it a try. Some people benefit from it and that’s why I wouldn’t call learning the IPA useless. As I said, I benefited from it greatly.

@customic, exactly. It’s just a tool. Not necessary, but helpful to some.

One may learn the sounds of Sanskrit before learning IPA.
English pronunciations can easily be written in IAST scheme.