Freshman Speech and Phonetics

Carnegie Mellon University
Natalie M. Baker, Associate Professor
School of Drama
Office Purnell Center 326

Speech & Phonetics: Course Description

Speech and Phonetics is a one year course designed to instruct the student in Good American Speech for the Theatre. The sounds of spoken English are presented in phonetic order. Vowels, diphthongs, triphthongs and consonants are taught using the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) for the purpose of eliminating regional characteristics in the student's speech pattern.

View the Fall 99 Syllabus

Course Goals

1. To foster the joy that results from using all the sounds of our parlance. The student actor investigates the most excellent of all types of poetry for the purposes of delight in and devotion to our language.

2. To demonstrate the close relationship between voice and speech and how, for the American- English dialect, the voice is shaped into speech sounds (39): vowels, diphthongs, triphthongs and consonants.

3. To present a systematic course of study of phonetics and to conduct regular practice sessions in phonetic drill. In addition, to present the principles of stress groups and intonation patterns. The combination of these offerings represents the quickest and most precise manner of learning to speak professionally.

4. To prepare the student to analyze and accomplish any dialect or accent on the basis of his knowledge of and facility with the IPA (international Phonetic Alphabet), in which there is a symbol to represent every sound of every known language.

Instructions to students

1. Bring required text, Speak with Distinction by Edith W. Skinner and required workbook, Distinct, Efficient and Pleasing by Natalie M. Baker to all classes. Use tape accompanying Distinct, Efficient and Pleasing in your own practice sessions.

2. Dress in comfortable clothing for some physical exercise.

3. Bring 2 sharpened #2 pencils with erasers to all classes.
Note: work done in ink will not be accepted.

4. Bring pocket-sized mirror to all classes.

5. Purchase 1 cassette tape and have access to a tape recorder. Arrangements will be made with Instructional Technology Center.

6. Attendance is mandatory at all classes. Unexcused absences will adversely affect grade. Lateness is not acceptable in the Theatre or in this class.

7. Presentations are to be memorized.

8. Workbook assignments are accepted until 5:00 p.m., Fridays. Place workbook in cardboard box marked "Freshman Speech&Phonetics" in CFA 108.

9. Grading is based on the standards of excellence of the School of Drama and on the following:

A=Superior work
B=The approach to the work was clearly strong
C=Mediocre work
D=Poor quality of effort, attitude or result

10. It is advisable to check progress and grade status periodically throughout the semester. Phone or e-mail N. Baker.

11. Fridays 12:00-1:00 are open, casual meetings for any clarification of instruction in N. Baker's office, Purnell Center 326. No appointment necessary.

Origins Paper

You are required to write a paper (5-7 pages typed), concerning the early influences on your voice and speech patterns. It is expected you will have already begun to reflect on this idea in September. Set up a meeting with relatives, close friends and teachers, to hear their speech sounds and and intonational patterns. Make recordings to illustrate particular aspects of your findings and include a tape with your final paper to support your conclusions. Steer away from psychological profiles and chattiness. Cite the facts. Use the information gained in class to describe sounds phonetically and to speak with some confidence about support, tension, resonance and voice quality.


Go to Natalie Baker's Voice and Speech Home Page