Some 19th century phoneticians
|Alexander John Ellis 1814-1890
Mathematician and phonetician, remembered for his work on early English pronunciation, English dialects, spelling reform, musical scales. He translated Helmholtz’s Die Lehre von den Tonempfindungen als physiologische Grundlage für die Theorie der Musik into English.
|Alexander Melville Bell 1819-1905
Scottish elocutionist and speech therapist, educator of the deaf, author of books on speech physiology. He invented visible speech, a writing system based on symbols for articulator, place and manner. Intended as an aid for teaching speech to the deaf, it was found too clumsy and abandoned. He also introduced the vowel articulation model we know today, with the tongue moving freely between front and back, and small increments of movement yielding small shifts of timbre. He moved to Canada, and then to the USA, where he continued working as an educator of the deaf, assisted by his son Alexander Graham.
|Henry Sweet 1845-1912
Specialist in Anglo-Saxon and Old English, active in movements for spelling reform and language teaching reform. He publicised Bell’s vowel articulation model.
|Abbé (Jean-Pierre) Rousselot 1846-1924
Catholic priest, French dialectologist, the “father of experimental phonetics”, he built up, in Paris, the first phonetics laboratory ever, and then helped establish other laboratories in neighbouring countries. His work is summarized in the two volumes of his Principes de phonétique expérimentale (1897 and 1901).
|Ferdinand de Saussure 1857-1913
Philologist at Geneva, writing a treatise on the vowel system of proto-Indoeuropean, and contributing to the laryngeal theory. He is particularly remembered for his Course in General Linguistics (published posthumously by his students in 1916) that laid the foundations for 20th c. structural linguistics.
|Otto Jespersen 1860-1943
A Danish anglicist, publishing works on English grammar, also active in the auxilliary language movement and in language teaching reform. He created the Danish dialect alphabet. In phonetics he published his monumental Fonetik in 2 vols., (1897 and 1901), with German versions in 1904. He was one of the founders of the International Phonetics Association.
©Sidney Wood and SWPhonetics, 1994-2012