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date: 27 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Phonetics has a long narrative history, stretching back through the Middle Ages and the Graeco-Roman period to the work of Sanskritic grammarians nearly 3,000 years ago. In the Middle and Far East, similar scholarly studies were undertaken, from the early Middle Ages onwards. The connection between the interpretation of aspects of Sanskritic literature and religious ritual and phonetics was paralleled in some medieval Arabic work on the interpretation of the Qur’an. The application of phonetic concepts in proposals for orthographic reforms in various languages, especially from the seventeenth century CE onwards, led to a varied series of proposals for change, some more practicable than others. Often however, at the same time it revealed the authors’ subjective awareness of the usefulness of the phonemic concept. Phonetics was to benefit, especially in the nineteenth century CE and afterwards, from the development of physiological and acoustic instrumentation in medicine and physics.

Keywords: medicine, physics, pronunciation, Royal Society, spelling reform

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