chapter
Linguistic Appendices
Pages 9

The term pronunciation inevitably tends to convey by association the classical fallacy thatletters have "values" that we award to them when we pronounce them. Actually, however, letters serve only to indicate what sound groups the writer intends us to utter when we reproduce his words in speech. Speakers of the influential dialect of Middle English in the Southeast Midland area (including London) around 1400, such as Chaucer and Gower, used over forty contrasting sounds, which are listed below as individual phonemes (including, for the sake of clarifying the arbitrary spelling system, some items such as [ks] that are clusters of phonemes).