J. C. Catford’s A Practical Introduction to Phonetics is packed with superb physical descriptions of vowel and consonant articulations. It is both very useful and—for the most part—very compatible with our approach. Dudley does disagree strongly with some of the physical formulations, but it is an exceedingly clear and well-written book. Catford was a major phonetician for many years at the University of Michigan and only recently passed away. A common saying among phoneticians is “Catford is always right.”

Beverly Collins and Inger Mees’ Practical Phonetics and Phonology is an extremely thorough and very accessible introductory text. It covers a number of subjects, including some accent work. Though it takes as it’s main reference accent ‘Non-Regional [Southeastern English] Pronunciation’ (‘NRP’), it also covers some features of other accents, and even addresses aspects of accent work. It also has an accompanying CD with some excellent accent samples.

Columbia University Linguist John McWhorter has written a number of books for general audiences that aim to explode various persistent (and pernicious) language myths. Word on the Street takes on severalr of them. The essential linguistic (as opposed to social) equality of all dialects and accents, though long recognized by linguists, is still ill-understood by the public at large. It is a basic tenet of Knight-Thompson Speechwork, and this book is a lively explication of the linguistic facts of life at the heart of the issue. Among other subjects, it includes an excellent discussion of African-American English, covering everything from phonology and grammar to history and cultural attitudes.

This three-volume work is an extremely valuable reference. Reading through them, or even just dipping into them, will inevitably increase the reader’s phonetic insight and knowledge of English language accent variation. Professor Wells, the creator of the invaluable concept of lexical sets, describes the system and its uses in detail in Volume 1.

The Handbook of the International Phonetic Association is subtitled A Guide to the Use of the International Phonetic Alphabet. Aside from a helpful introduction and good examples of all phonetic symbols as used in at least one word of one language, the Handbook provides illustrations of the phonologies of a number—though not an exhaustive list—of languages. It also provides a supplementary chart of symbols for Disordered Speech.

Phonetic Symbol Guide, by Geoffrey K. Pullum and William A. Ladusaw, Second Edition. This invaluable volume contains excellent information on every single phonetic symbol (except one!); all the symbols you will ever use and many you will never use but will admire from afar…

Longman Pronunciation Dictionary, by J. C. Wells. This is a phenomenal reference work, including RP and “General” American pronunciations for all items, along with preference polls for a number of words and numerous illuminating sidebars on all manner of pronunciation and phonetics questions and issues. It is shot through with Professor Wells’ characteristic lucidity.

The Sounds of the World’s Languages, by Peter Ladefoged and Ian Maddieson

Sound Patterns of Spoken English, by Linda Shockey

Trail Guide to the Body, by Andrew Biel

Concise Compendium of the World’s Languages 2nd Edition by George L Campbell


Academic Journals:


The Journal of the International Phonetic Association (JIPA)


American Speech, (quarterly journal published by the American Dialect Society)