USING THE CUED SPEECH GUIDE TO
AMERICAN PRONUNCIATIONS
OF COMMON WORDS

Te following alphabetical listing of more than a thousand common words is not intended as a prescriptive pronunciation guide. It is rather a descriptive guide to pronunciations which exist in various American speech dialects. Once you have located your pronunciation of a word, the cues are then provided.

Entries are first spelled as in standard dictionaries. Then each word is re-spelled in the Phonemic Spelling system revised by the author with Dr. R. Orin Cornett from the latter's "Foenetik Spelling" system (Henegar & Cornett, 1971). Study the Phonemic Spelling Guide elsewhere in this manual if you have not already done so. Here are a few examples of entries:

English Spelling  Phonemic Spelling
================  =================
able              /aybul/
above             /ubuhv/
again             /ugen/
because           /bikawz/
captain           /kaptin/
circle            /surkul/
country           /kuhntri/
The third entry for each word is usually (but not always) the General American dialect broken down into syllables for pronunciation and cueing. Where necessary the re-speling becomes exactly compatible with cue positions of vowels and diphthongs.Stressed (accented) syllables are printed in capital (upper case) letters. Here are some examples to domonstrate:
English Sp.  Phonemic Sp. Cue Spelling
===========  ============ ============
able         /aybul/      E-I bul
above        /ubuhv/      u BUHV
again        /ugen/       u GEN
appear       /upir/       u PIR
around       /urownd/     u RAH-OOND
boy          /boi/        BAW-I
buy          /bie/        BAH-I
The fourth entry is a coded system used thoughout this manual for writing cues. Numerals designate handshapes 1-8, and letters are used for the hand positions and movements:
      c = chin
      t = throat
      m = mouth
      s = side
      s/d = side/down
      s/f = side/forward
Here are some examples to demonstrate:
Cue Spelling  Coded Cues
============  ==========
E-I bul       [5-c,5-t,4-s/d,6-s]
u BUHV        [5-s/d,4-s/d,2-s]
u GEN         [5-s/d,7-c,4-s]
u PIR         [5-s/d,1-t,3-s]
u RAH-OOND    [5-s/d,3-s,5-t,4-s,1-s]
BAW-I         [4-c,5-t]
BAH-I         [4-s,5-t]
If a word entry is never pronounced any other way, the fourth entry will be the last for that particular word. But when other pronunciations are known to exist -- either in the same dialect or in different dialects -- more entries are added. The word "for" is a good illustration because it has many variations: for /faw/ FAWR [5-c,3-s] FOHR [5-s/f,3-s] FOH u [5-s/f,5-s/d] FOH ur [5-s/f,5-m] fur (weak form) [5-m] fu (weak form0 [5-s/d] You probably won't use all of these pronunciations in your particular dialect, but you certainly will use more than one, depending upon the spoken context:
  1. "What's that for?" /FAWR/, /FOHR/, /FOH u/, /FOH ur/
  2. "What's for dinner?" /fur/ or /fu/ (probably)
When only one syllable changes from pronunciation to pronunciation, we have taken the liberty at times to print cues only for the changing syllable. Special information about words or pronunciaitons is enclosed in parentheses: (alphabet letter), (article), (weak form) etc.

The author has deliberately avoided designating entries as "typical" of any one regional dialect -- and for good reason! Some pronunciations cut across many dialects, and some which might be "regional" for others may not reflect your speech within that region.The author apologizes in advance for any omissions of pronunciations which you may favor. Please enlighten him so that the error of omission can be rectified in the near future.

[Author's Note: Although this writer prefers Phonemic Spelling because it is not case-sensitive and can be written in either cursive script or computer-eze, the reader would be wise to GET BEYOND any spelling or re-spelling system as quickly as possible. The sooner the speech sounds become cues -- without any middle transition step -- the better!]


CS Guide to American Pronunciations
Return to Table of Contents