Cambridge English Pronouncing Dictionary, cover

Cambridge English Pronouncing Dictionary is a comprehensive guide to generally understandable pronunciation of English in the United Kingdom and United States of America.

A Specialist and Comprehensive Reference to English Pronunciation

Cambridge English Pronouncing Dictionary recognises that there are wide variations in spoken English across both countries, and beyond. To achieve a widely understood and acceptable pronunciation standard the editors have used broadcasters as the model.

Whilst it is acknowledged that many presenters do have a regional accent it is not possible to reflect the considerable variations in a reference book such as this.

Pronunciation Based on BBC and Network English

In particular the pronunciation used is based on that of professionally trained newsreaders and presenters who do not have particular regional dialects or forms of English. The basis and rationale for the choice of this spoken form is fully described in the introduction.

The pronunciation used is therefore described in the dictionary as BBC English for the UK and Network English for the USA. This also has the advantage that those studying the pronunciation of English have access to extensive and high-quality sources from television, radio and the Internet news channels.

Foreign Words and Alternative Pronunciations

The pronunciation of words of foreign origin is based on the most common Anglicised pronunciation as well as for original “authentic” pronunciations particularly where they might be used by an educated speaker of English. Such pronunciations are marked as such in the text.

The usage of alternative pronunciations are included where needed. For some forms and words there are complex rules for determining correct pronunciation and these are explained with supporting text.

Technical Phonetic Descriptions

As the printed content relies on an understanding of the phonetic alphabet there is guide to the principle of transcription that has been used. The approach is based on phonemes. Cambridge English Pronouncing Dictionary provides an extensive description of the techniques used to transcribe and describe punctuation which will require detailed study for those without a background in phonetics.

The general differences between British and American English are described. There is a short section explaining how the relatively few non-English sounds of which most English speakers will be aware are pronounced. The examples are from the Gaelic, Welsh and Germanic languages and some French sounds.

Audio CD Increases Usefulness

Cambridge English Pronouncing Dictionary comes with a CD that allows the dictionary to be installed on a computer which makes the dictionary much more accessible to those users without training in phonetics. It provides spoken pronunciation of both the English and American forms.

Comprehensive Coverage of the English Language

Cambridge English Pronouncing Dictionary covers some 80,000 words and 220,000 associated pronunciations. It includes place names and other common proper names that are in frequent use. It is clearly laid out with headwords in colour to aid readability.

It is a specialised reference that will be invaluable for some readers but with the CD is usable by anyone with access to a computer. For many, such as broadcasters and teachers of English, it will be an essential guide. For others it will be a fascinating exploration of the English language. Whilst it is not a book that will be on everyone’s shelves it is an important and masterly reference that should be acknowledged as such.

Cambridge English Pronouncing Dictionary, 17th Edition with CD (2006; ISBN:978-0-521-68087-5) by Daniel Jones is published in Paperback by Cambridge University Press at 25.75.


First appeared on Suite101

Add new comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.