Originally published Jun 22, 2007
As many of you know, The Name Inspector includes special phonetic representationsalong with his name analyses. He’s always considered these to be not only graphically interesting, but also useful as visualization tools. Even if you aren’t familiar with the International Phonetic Alphabet, on which these representation are based, you can still get an overall impression of the phonetic properties of a name from one of these little pictures. Syllables are separated by spaces to make them visually distinct, the relative stress of syllables is shown by the use of three different font sizes, and the different degrees of sonority of the various sound segments are indicated by darker and lighter shades of gray.
The thing is, the real value of this kind of visualization is in comparing names to one another, which is hard when each phonetic representation occurs alone in a post. So The Name Inspector has added a page that simply presents all the phonetic representations in a list. Each item is a link to the relevant post. Scanning the list gives you a sense of how each name compares to the others: how long it is phonetically, what kinds of sounds are predominant, and the like. You can also use the list to practice reading phonetic transcription. And it looks kind of cool. Enjoy.