Phonetics – Part One

This week I have been doing some reading up on Phonetics. It was a subject that I knew very little about (in regards to the alphabet) and it got me wondering whether there is still a need for a phonetic alphabet and indeed phonetic transcription.

I wanted to share with you all my research so far, I am calling this blog Part One as there is still so much more information out there and it is quite lengthy and hard to read/absorb. But here is what I have discovered so far…

What is it?

Phonetic transcription is the visual representation of speech sounds. The most common type of phonetic transcription uses a phonetic alphabet.


Phonetic transcriptions are usually written in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), in which each words sound has its own symbol (not the spelling) and are written in square brackets [ ].

What is the International Phonetic Alphabet?

 The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is a system of phonetic notation devised by linguists to accurately and uniquely represent each of the wide variety of sounds (phones or phonemes) used in spoken human language. The IPA became widely used before the First World War.

For example: The word home is hoʊm, and the transcription of come is kʌm. Note that in spelling, these words are similar. They both end in ome. But their phonetic transcriptions are different, because they are pronounced differently.

Phonetic transcription is usually given in brackets, like this: /hoʊm/, /kʌm/.

 Why would you use Phonetic Transcription?

  • For someone where English is not their native language or they are learning it, phonetic transcription enables him or her to extract precise and explicit information on pronunciation
  • Public service announcements and broadcasting – to ensure that broadcasters, announcers and news readers are pronouncing word correctly

Is there still a need for the IPA?

The IPA is being used less and less here are our thoughts as to some of the reasons:

  • Both teachers and students to not feel that the symbols are useful or credible any more
  • Online dictionaries and thesauruses that pronounce the word as sound so that students can listen and repeat the words
  • The rise in online language tutorials
  • Phonetic alphabet may not be useful for everyone as it is quite difficult to understand

What is the difference between phonetic and phonemic transcription?

Phonetics is the study of the systematic organisation of sound in different languages. Phonetic transcription is concerned with the physical characteristics of sounds, not their patterns. Phonemic transcription is concerned with the distribution of sound therefore when a sound alters the meaning of the word it becomes important to allocate separate symbols to make them distinguishable.


This is by no means a conclusion on the subject, there is still a lot to be understood on this subject, but I want to try and steer away from using academic terms and share with you my research in more layman terms, because I am not in any way shape or form an academic and will not try to be. I personally find some of the reading I have done difficult to understand and I want to make sure that my blog post explains phonetic and phonemic transcription in a simple and easy to understand way.

If anyone has any experience or knowledge that they would like to share on the subject then please leave a comment.


Cerri Killworth, Typist for Fingertips Typing services.

Outsourcing Your Data Entry Requirements

Data entry is the standard and core requirements of the modern world. By outsourcing your data entry requirements, you can save your organisation a great deal of expense with hiring data entry resources and back office operations salaries. Reduce your administrative burdens and save time.

Here are our reasons as to why you should outsource your data entry requirements:

  • Focus on business strategic tasks, rather than time-consuming administrative processes
  • Consistent quality of work performed
  • Reduce your administrative costs
  • Reduce your overhead costs; no salaries required

What should you look for when looking for a data entry services provider?

Here are some areas you should consider while looking for a data entry services provider:

  1. Accuracy – Look for a company that has an audit system to check for errors, ensuring that accurate data is being processed. Here at Fingertips Typing services we ensure all of our work is quality checked to ensure the highest level of accuracy is provided to our customers.
  2. Data Security – This is probably one of the most important factors, afterall you do not want your customers’ information to fall into the wrong hands. Work with a company that has multiple layers of security. All of our customers’ data is safe and secure and our employees handle your data in a secure manner ensuring that nothing will be compromised.
  3. Quality Levels – Make sure that the provider that you use has good quality standards and clear SLA’s, the worst thing is having to wait for your data because it has not been entered in a timely manner. At Fingertips we are clear about our deadlines and SLA’s every member of the team works towards these exacting standards and is why our customers keep coming back to us.
  4. Client Testimonials – You wouldn’t get a builder to build you a house without hearing about or seeing a house that they have built before, so why should this be any different. You will want a long term relationship with the company you pick so ask for feedback or testimonials from their previous clients. The best companies will always have a proven track record and willing customers to provide testimonials.

Outsourcing data entry services really is a viable option and can save your business thousand and allow you to focus on the core areas of your business and business growth.

For a no obligation quote call 0845 300 5245 or email us:

How to turn an interview into something meaningful?

There are many different types of interviews conducted every day; job and university, celebrity and sports personalities, police and legal interviews. Although each of these has different requirements for what the information gathered is going to be used for, each is using same underlying technique which is to ask lots of questions to gather as much information as possible.

But there is so much more that can be done to ensure that you are getting the best possible quality answers from the interviewee.

This blog post explores the most useful techniques that can be adopted to turn questions and answers into a meaningful conversation.

Our Techniques

  • Use Open-ended Questions – You want to get as much information as possible from the candidate, so avoid yes or no questions “Are you thirsty?” For example as the answer is either going to be “Yes” or “No”. Open-ended questions will elicit longer answers and ensure that the interviewee gives you examples and details, for example: “What else do we need to do to make this a success?”
  • Try not to anticipate answers – There is nothing worse than be interrupted mid conversation or having your sentences finished. Let the interviewee speak and have their opportunity to explain everything for you.
  • Funnel Questions – This involves using general questions, and then homing in on a point in each answer. This is a common technique used by the police when taking a statement. For example: “How many people were involved in the robbery?”
    “About four.”
    “Were they children or adults?”
    “Mostly adults.”
    “What sort of ages were they?”
    “About twenty-one and thirty.”
    “Were they carrying any weapons or tools?”
    “Yes, several of them had crow bars and hammers.”

By continuing with the funnel technique you can help the interviewee  re-live the scenario and focus on the detail that is needed.

  •  Listen slowly – This can help you illicit more information from the interviewee, without having to ask any further questions. Try this technique
    • Ask a question
    • Listen attentively
    • Count to five once they have finished talking before asking the next question. Yes this may feel unnatural at first, but it might illicit additional information and an expansion of the answer from the interviewee.
    • Tip: Pick a few questions that give the interviewee room for introspection, the pause will then give the interviewee the space to fill it with an additional example or a more detailed explanation.

These interview techniques can be applied to any interview situation and will give you even more food for thought.

Your note taking is just as important as the techniques you apply, after all you want to be able to capture and save as much information as possible for you to look back on at a later date. This is where audio recording can help as it will capture everything at source.

At Fingertips Typing Services we offer audio transcription services If you have an interview and feel you would benefit from transcription services, then Fingertips Typing can help. Visit Fingertips Typing Services.

Written by: Cerri Killworth, Transcriber for Fingertips Typing Services.