Preface: I use 'phonate' to mean: `to produce or to utter a phone'.

After 5 years, I finally learned to phonate the Alveolar Trill [r], from an explanation that cleverly exploited English phonology to simulate [r], even though [r] is absent in English.

  1. What is this method of learning to phonate called? It is described in p 12 of An Introduction to Language (10 ed, 2014) by V Fromkin, R Rodman, N Hyams:

Sounds of the target language that do not occur in the native language are often described by reference to known sounds. Thus the student might be aided in producing the French sound u in the word tu by instructions such as “Round your lips while producing the vowel sound in tea.”

  1. Are there books or resources that use this method, to teach (how to phonate) all IPA phones?

I must use this same method to learn how to phonate phones absent in my L1 languages and that I cannot pronounce, because I was not aided by corporeal explanations of phonetics (eg: on loosening your tongue, letting the tongue flap/flutter in your exhalation, etc... ).

1 Answer 1


Addressing the question in the title, the answer is no, because no single language has all phones. The question is somewhat ill-conceived, being framed in terms of "phones", since a "phone" is a concrete sound (it would be way too involved to properly explain what a "phone" is). The IPA does not have separate symbols representing the phonetically distinct vowels transcribed for instance [a] in all languages. Thus there is no single language sound corresponding to IPA [i], instead, very many similar sounds are subsumed under the transcriptional symbol [i]. Articulatory explanations of how to pronounce particular sounds are generally of only ancillary utility: what you need is cleanly-recorded models that you can imitate.

You would have to explain what method you're talking about, in order for anyone to give you examples of that method, or tell you if it has a name.


The linked description isn't a conventionalized and general method with a name, it's a description of how an individual (may have) learned to pronounce [r]. The magic step is "I somehow tried to hold the [ɾ] instead of immediately lowering my tongue". There may be individual descriptions of what people think they did physiologically to learn to pronounce novel sounds, but generally speaking, such descriptions are not a lot of help and are often just wrong. You need a native speaker with a bit of patience and a good ear: that is how I learned the exotic sounds of Lushootseed. Note that there is not just one phonetic type of [ɾ] and one phonetic type of [r], so if you want to master the trilled [r] of Finnish, you need a speaker or at least recordings of Finnish.

Or, you could go to London and sign up for the official IPA course.

  • Sorry for any confusion; a link (to another post) failed to appear as assumed, but should now resolve your your second paragraph. Please inform me if something is unclear?
    – user5306
    Oct 29, 2015 at 16:28

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