Canadian Journal of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology

The Phonetic Notation System of Melville Bell and its Role in the History of Phonetics

Author(s) Judith Felson Duchan
Volume 30
Number 1
Year 2006
Page(s) 14-17
Language English
Keywords history
Abstract Alexander Melville Bell was an inventor, like his son Alexander Graham Bell. In 1867, Melville Bell invented the first universal phonetic alphabetic system, one that he called “Visible Speech.” Visible Speech was also used by elocutionists of the time to teach speech production to the deaf and to people with stuttering and articulatory problems. Some aspects of Melville Bell’s phonetics contribution had a lasting impact on the science of phonetics, especially in its representation of vowels. Other aspects, such as the notation system he used, were lost to posterity. This article argues that Melville Bell’s work can offer a case study, of sorts, to illustrate that one cannot assume today’s practices will be long lasting ones.

Alexander Melville Bell était inventeur, comme son fils Alexander Graham Bell. En 1867, Melville Bell a inventé le premier alphabet phonétique universel, qu’il a baptisé « Visible Speech » (le langage visible). Les professeurs d’élocution de l’époque ont également utilisé le langage visible pour enseigner la production de sons aux sourds et aux gens ayant des problèmes de bégaiement et d’articulation. Certains volets de la contribution de Melville Bell à la phonétique ont eu un effet durable sur la science de la phonétique, notamment dans sa représentation des voyelles. D’autres volets, tel le système de notation qu’il employait, n’ont pas passé à la postérité. Cet article soutient que les travaux de Melville Bell peuvent servir d’étude de cas, en quelque sorte, pour illustrer le fait qu’on ne peut pas supposer que les pratiques d’aujourd’hui perdureront.
Record ID 913
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