Thursday 25 November 2010

a new book on North American English

Jørgen Staun, associate professor at Copenhagen University, has just published An Introduction to the Pronunciation of North American English. The publisher is University Press of Southern Denmark. The current list price is DKK 348,00 for a book with 311 pages.

Here's the table of contents of this "lærebog":



1    Introduction to American English

1.1  North American English dialects
1.2  The delimitation of a reference dialect of North American English
1.3  Summary of the main points

2    The phoneme and the phoneme inventory of North American English
2.1  Introduction
2.2  The phoneme and the linguistic hierarchy
2.3  Phonemes and allophones
2.4  The phoneme as an organising unit of sound structure
2.5  Establishing the phoneme inventory of NAERD
2.6  Summary

3    Obstruent consonants in American English
3.1  Articulatory, acoustic and auditory descriptions
3.2  The organs of speech and their three systems: articulatory, phonatory and respiratory
3.3  The Classification of the consonant system
3.4  Classes of obstruents in NAERD – stops
    3.4.1 Plosive versus affricate
    3.4.2 Strong versus weak
    3.4.3 Different kinds of release
    3.4.4 Summing up the manner and energy of stops
3.5  Individual stops
    3.5.1 The affricates
    3.5.2 The plosives
    3.5.3 Summing up the individual stops
3.6  Classes of obstruents in NAERD – fricatives
    3.6.1 Sibilant and non-sibilant fricatives
    3.6.2 Strong versus weak
    3.6.3 Summing up the manner and energy of fricatives
3.7  The individual fricatives
    3.7.1 Sibilants
    3.7.2 The non-sibilant fricatives
    3.7.3 Summing up the individual fricatives
3.8  Summarising the obstruent consonants of NAERD

4     Sonorant consonants in American English
4.1  Types of sonorant consonants
4.2  The individual sonorants
    4.2.1 The nasals
    4.2.2 The approximant /r/
    4.2.3 The approximants /j/ and /w/
    4.2.4 The lateral /l/
    4.2.5 Summing up the individual sonorants
    4.3  Syllabic consonants
    4.4  Summarising the sonorant consonants of NAERD

5    Vowels in American English
5.1  How to describe vowels
5.2  Subclasses of vowels
    5.2.1 Checked and free vowels
    5.2.2 Monophthongs and diphthongs
    5.2.3 Classification according to place and height
    5.2.4 Vowels before /r/
5.3  Ongoing vowel changes in American English
    5.3.1 The Northern Cities Shift
    5.3.2 The Southern Vowel Shift
    5.3.3 Summing up the vowel description
5.4  The individual vowels
    5.4.1 Subsystem A – checked vowels
    5.4.2 Subsystem B – free monophthongs
    5.4.3 Subsystem C – front-closing diphthongs
    5.4.4 Subsystem D – back-closing diphthongs
    5.4.5 Summing up the individual vowels
5.5  Vowels in unstressed syllables
    5.5.1 Unstressed syllables of content words
    5.5.2 Reduction in form words in connected speech
    5.5.3 Summing up vowels in unstressed syllables
5.6  Summarising the vowels of NAERD


6    Syllable structure in American English

6.1  Prosodic or suprasegmental phenomena
6.2  Introduction to syllable structure
6.3  The structure of the syllable
6.4  The sonority sequencing principle
6.5  Permissible onsets and codas in NAERD
    6.5.1 Onsets
    6.5.2 Codas
    6.5.3 The main points about the structure of onsets and codas
6.6  The syllabification of polysyllabic words
6.7  Summary of syllable structure

7    Word stress in American English
7.1  Introduction to word stress
7.2  Stress rules in non-compounds
    7.2.1 The root stress rule
    7.2.2 The antepenult rule
    7.2.3 The prefix rule
    7.2.4 The word class rule
    7.2.5 Secondary word stress
    7.2.6 Summary of word stress in non-compound words
7.3  Stress in compounds and compound-like combinations
    7.3.1 Stress in simple compounds
    7.3.2 Stress in simple compound-like combinations
    7.3.3 The stress of complex compounds
    7.3.4 The stress of compound-like combinations
    7.3.5 Summary of stress in compounds and compound-like combinations
7.4  Rhythm
    7.4.1 Types of rhythm
    7.4.2 The foot
    7.4.3 Main points about rhythm

8    Intonation in American English

8.1  The nature and function of intonation
8.2  What is represented between the two horizontal lines?
8.3  The tone group – structure and demarcation
    8.3.1 Structure
    8.3.2 Demarcation
8.4  The classification of nucleus types
    8.4.1 Simplex and complex nuclei
    8.4.2 The interpretation and transcription of simplex and complex nuclei
8.5  The use of the NAERD nuclei
    8.5.1 The unmarked nuclei in final tone groups
    8.5.2 The unmarked nucleus types in non-final tone groups
8.6  Some communicative implications of the nucleus types
8.7  Simplified transcription
8.8  The intonation of some characteristic syntactic constructions
    8.8.1 Tag questions
    8.8.2 Alternative questions/constructions and enumerations
    8.8.3 Relative clauses
    8.8.4 Sentence adverbials, dialogue mechanisms, comment clauses and vocatives
8.9  Summary of the main points


9    Variation and change
9.1  Types of inter-segment influence
9.2  Types of assimilation
    9.2.1 Phonetic parameter and direction
    9.2.2 Allophonic or phonemic assimilations
    9.2.3 Word-internal and word-external assimilations
9.3  Elision and Epenthesis
    9.3.1 Elision
    9.3.2 Epenthesis
    9.3.3 Summarising whole-segment processes
9.4  Diachronic change
    9.4.1 Combinatorial i-umlaut
    9.4.2 Combinatorial changes in American English
    9.4.3 System-dependent change: consonant shift and vowel shift
    9.4.4 System-dependent changes in North American English
    9.4.5 Closing remarks

10    Survey of American English dialects
10.1  Introduction
10.2  The main dialect areas
10.3  The North
    10.3.1 The northern area
    10.3.2 Diagnosing the North
    10.3.3 The vowel system of a northern speaker
10.4  The Midland and the West
    10.4.1 The area of the Midland and the West
    10.4.2 Diagnosing the West and the Midland
10.5  The South
    10.5.1 The southern area
    10.5.2 Diagnosing the South
    10.5.3 The vowel system of a southern speaker
10.6  The East
    10.6.1 The eastern area
    10.6.2 Diagnosing the East
    10.6.3 The vowel systems of eastern speakers
10.7  Canada
    10.7.1 The Canadian area
    10.7.2 Diagnosing Canadian English
    10.7.3 The vowel system of a Canadian speaker
10.8  Summing up North American dialects
    10.8.1 Three residual areas
    10.8.2 Summary of the North American English dialects


More on it after I've had time to take a look at the contents. What irritates me is the change between "American English" and "North American English" in the paragraph and section titles.
NAERD stands for North American English Reference Dialect.
Why does the author call it a dialect, not an accent?


  1. This book looks extremely int·resting and /`θɜroʊ/ to judge from the chapter titles. He seems to be fighting shy of using the traditional term ‘General American’. Quaintly enuff for a book hailing from Denmark he’s chosen an abbreviation that looks curiously Danish viz NAERD. Is it going to be treated as an acronym and, if so, how is it likely to be pronounced? I suppose /nɛː(r)d/. Let’s hope no-one treats it as some Brits say the Danish name Maersk, recommended by the Beeb and LPD to be /mɛː(r)sk/ but spoken by some as /mɜː(r)sk/. If such a version cau·t on people might be saying “Have you checked with your /nɜː(r)d/?

  2. Could you post the ISBN of this book? Amazon USA doesn't seem to have a record of it, annoyingly!

  3. Okay - so I did a little online research! One can order it from the University of Southern Denmark Press website, but this uses Danish only:
    For US-based people, try the International Specialized Book Services based in Oregon:

  4. ISBN-13 is 978-87-7674-476-2.
    @Limey: I asked J. Staun how he would pronounce NAERD. Here's his answer:
    "[...] I would try and avoid the vowel of 'worse' or 'nurse' if possible."
    @Martin J Ball: You can send the Denmark Press people an email in English and they're going to help you; that's at least what I did.