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Re: pronunciation of saurus by a spanish speaker who also knows some greek

Which brings me to another point: discussing phonetics is kind of
pointless without using something like the International Phonetic
Alphabet. Each language has its own version of how the letters should
be pronounced in which contexts (and English is especially irregular
in its version, I think), but IPA characters are universal.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kirshenbaum (check out the links at the bottom, and keep in mind that... erm... I modified the vowel chart from Kirshenbaum's original which... well... some say it makes the vowel system of American English look all nice and symmetric...)

To say "English is especially irregular" is an understatement. :-) It has the worst orthography of any language that uses an alphabet or syllabary. It's worse than French, all kinds of Gaelic, Tibetan, and Mongolian-in-the-Mongolian-script. (In French, at least, there are often lots of ways a spoken word could be written down, but only one way to pronounce any written word, including even scientific names, if we ignore a few irregular words and placenames. English even lacks this, in spite of actually having rules that prevent "ghotiugh" from being pronounced "fish".) I've made the observation it's easier to learn for nonnative speakers (who learn the spelling and the pronunciation at the same time, sort of like learning Chinese) than for native speakers -- I've often seen native speakers making mistakes I wouldn't dream of, because they already know the pronunciation and try to write it down.

I really like this page. http://www.xibalba.demon.co.uk/jbr/ortho.html :-)