I wish I could spend all my weekends making phonology trees
Originally uploaded by emilybean
It’s a well-established principle when using IPA for phonetic descriptions to declutter the transcription by leaving out anything that can be predicted using knowledge of the language. (“It is better to state such information in the conventions that accompany a phonetic transcription rather than in the transcription itself.”)
This is absolutely fine in a monolingual context, but I think it falls over to a certain extent elsewhere.
For instance, when giving the original pronunciation of a borrowing in a monolingual dictionary, the IPA is often simply copied from a bilingual dictionary. That is, the pronunciation of ‘Champs-Elysées’ might be given as /???z elize/, which is fine if you know French IPA conventions, but not otherwise. Where does the stress go – equally on each syllable, or will one syllable get more stress? Is the /e/ to be pronounced [?] as in English? Is the /l/ light or dark?
Or going the other other way, if the word ‘tell’ was taken into French, giving it pronunciation as /tel/ would indicate [t?el] rather than [t???].
Surely in this context it would be better to use precise IPA.