8th International Conference on Spoken Language Processing

Jeju Island, Korea
October 4-8, 2004

In Search of a Universal Phonetic Alphabet - Theory and Application of an Organic Visible Speech-

Hyun-Bok Lee

Seoul National University, Korea

Phonetic symbols have an important role to play in phonetics, linguistics, language teaching, speech pathology and speech sciences in general, and linguists and phoneticians have tried to devise appropriate phonetic alphabets. Notable among them are Sweet, Bell, Jespersen, Pike, etc. The most successful and popular phonetic alphabet today is no doubt the International Phonetic Alphabet. The International Korean Phonetic Alphabet (IKPA for short) is a system of phonetic symbols that has been devised by the author on the basis of the articulatory phonetic(organic) principles exploited by the Korean King Sejong in creating the Korean alphabet of 28 letters in 1443. The Korean alphabet is not merely a phonetic alphabet of arbitrary nature but a highly sophisticated system consisting of sets of interrelated organic phonetic symbols, each set representing either the shape of the organs of speech, i.e. lips, tooth and velar etc. or their articulatory action. The Korean alphabet is, in a true sense of the word, a set of phonetic symbols designed to represent the organic visible speech of the human being. The author has applied the organic phonetic principles much more extensively and systematically in devising IKPA than the King had done. Consequently the IKPA symbols are just as systematic, scientific, easy to learn and memorize as the Korean alphabet, quite unlike the IPA counterparts which, having been derived mainly from Roman and Greek letters, are mostly unsystematic and arbitrary. The IKPA symbols visualize or mirror the actual speech organs or their action and thus tell us exactly what sort of an articulatory action is involved in producing sounds. It is in this sense that the IKPA deserves to be called a "Universal Visible Speech", which is to be shared by all.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Lee, Hyun-Bok (2004): "In search of a universal phonetic alphabet - theory and application of an organic visible speech-", In INTERSPEECH-2004, paper P3.