Henry Sweet



English phonetician

Chief founder of modern phonetics


During his life time

International phonetic association was founded

Modern languages in secondary schools became more secure

Reform Method based on the principles of language teaching laid down by the I. P. A.


The elaboration of a true method involves

(1) The selection of the variety of language to be taught

(2) The limitation of the amount to be taught in any given course

(3) The arrangement of the selected material in terms of the four language skills of the understanding speech, speaking, reading and writing

(4) The grading of the details of the materials at the various level pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary and cultural content


             A profound influence on the work of Harold Palmer, author of The Scientific Study and Teaching of Languages (1917), The Principles of Language Study.


             He considered that a knowledge of phonetics was the first essential step in learning a foreign language, and that no attempt should be made to advance in grammar and vocabulary until the sounds of the language have been mastered.


             He suggests that the first foreign language should be introduced to children when they are 10 years of age.



History of English Sounds from the Earliest Period (1874), Anglo-Saxon Reader (1876),

Anglo-Saxon Reader in Prose and Verse (1876), Handbook of Phonetics (1877),

Anglo-Saxon Primer (1887), A New English Grammar (1892, 1898),

The practical Study of Languages (1899),The History of Language (1900),

The Sounds of English (1908),

Old and Middle English texts, primers of speech, an Anglo-Saxon dictionary, a historical English grammar.


Related Website

The Henry Sweet Society for the History of Linguistic Ideas.