IPA

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Below is a basic key to the symbols of the International Phonetic Alphabet. For the smaller set of symbols that is sufficient for English, see Help:pronunciation. Several rare IPA symbols are not included; these are found on the main IPA article.

For each IPA symbol, an English example is given where possible; here "RP" stands for Received Pronunciation. The foreign languages that are used to illustrate additional sounds are primarily the ones most likely to be familiar to English speakers, French, German, and Spanish. For symbols not covered by those, recourse is taken to the populous languages Mandarin Chinese, Hindustani, Arabic, and Russian. For sounds still not covered, other smaller but well-known languages are used, such as Swahili, Turkish, and Zulu.

The left-hand column displays the symbols like this: Template:Audio-pipe. Click on the speaker icon to hear the sound; click on the symbol itself for a dedicated article with a more complete description and examples from multiple languages. All the sounds are spoken more than once, and the consonant sounds are spoken once followed by a vowel and once between vowels.

Contents: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z  other  Diacritic marks  Brackets 



Main symbols

The symbols are arranged by similarity to letters of the Latin alphabet. Symbols which do not resemble any letter are placed at the end.

Symbol Examples Description
A
Template:Audio-pipe Spanish casa, French patte, German Mann For many English speakers, the first part of the ow sound in cow. Found in some dialects of English in cat or father.
Template:Audio-pipe German Aachen, French gare Long [a].
  [ ɐ ] RP cut, German Kaiserslautern (With English, [ɐ] is normally written "[ʌ]".)
Template:Audio-pipe Finnish Linna, Dutch bad
Template:Audio-pipe RP father, French pâte Long [ɑ].
  [ ɑ̃ ] French Caen, sans, temps Nasalized [ɑ].
Template:Audio-pipe RP cot Like [ɑ], but with the lips slightly rounded.
Template:Audio-pipe Like [ɔ], but without the lips being rounded. (When "[ʌ]" is used for English, it may really be [ɐ] or [ɜ].)
Template:Audio-pipe RP cat
B
Template:Audio-pipe English babble
Template:Audio-pipe Swahili bwana Like a [b] said while swallowing.
Template:Audio-pipe Like the brrr sound made when cold.
Template:Audio-pipe Spanish la Bamba Like [b], but with the lips not quite touching.
C
Template:Audio-pipe Turkish kebap "kebab", Czech stín "shadow" Rather like English tune (RP) or cute. Sometimes used for [tʃ] in languages like Hindi.
Template:Audio-pipe German Ich More y-like than [x]. Some English speakers have a similar sound in huge. To produce this sound, try whispering loudly the word "ye" as in "Hear ye!".
Template:Audio-pipe Mandarin Xi'an More y-like than [ʃ]; something like English she.
Template:Audio-pipe see under O
D
Template:Audio-pipe English did
Template:Audio-pipe Swahili Dodoma Like [d] said while swallowing.
Template:Audio-pipe English "harder" Like [d] with the tongue curled or pulled back.
Template:Audio-pipe English the, bathe
Template:Audio-pipe1 English adze, Italian zero
Template:Audio-pipe1 English judge
  [ dʑ ] 1 Polish niewiedź "bear" Like [dʒ], but with more of a y-sound.
  [ dʐ ] 1 Polish em "jam" Like [dʒ] with the tongue curled or pulled back.
E
Template:Audio-pipe Spanish fe; French clé
Template:Audio-pipe German Klee Long [e]. Similar to English hey, before the y sets in.
Template:Audio-pipe English above, Hindi ठग [ʈʰəɡ] (thug) "thief" (Only occurs in English when not stressed.)
  [ ɚ ] American English runner
Template:Audio-pipe English bet
  [ ɛ̃ ] French Agen, vin, main Nasalized [ɛ].
Template:Audio-pipe RP bird (long)
  [ ɝ ] American English bird
F
Template:Audio-pipe English fun
Template:Audio-pipe see under J
Template:Audio-pipe see under J
G
Template:Audio-pipe English gig (no different from the symbol "g")
Template:Audio-pipe Swahili Uganda Like [ɡ] said while swallowing.
Template:Audio-pipe Like [ɡ], but further back, in the throat. Found in some Arabic dialects for /q/, as in Gaddafi.
Template:Audio-pipe see under Z English beige.
H
Template:Audio-pipe American English house
Template:Audio-pipe English ahead, when said quickly.
  [ ʰ ] The extra puff of air in English top [tʰɒp] compared to stop [stɒp], or to French or Spanish [t].
Template:Audio-pipe Arabic محمد Muhammad Far down in the throat, like [h], but stronger.
Template:Audio-pipe see under U
  [ ɮ ] see under L
I
Template:Audio-pipe French ville, Spanish Valladolid
Template:Audio-pipe English sea Long [i].
Template:Audio-pipe English sit
Template:Audio-pipe Russian ты "you" Often used for unstressed English roses.
J
Template:Audio-pipe English yes, German Junge
  [ ʲ ] Russian Ленин [lʲeˈnʲɪn] Indicates a sound is more y-like.
Template:Audio-pipe Spanish cayo (some dialects) Like [j], but stronger.
Template:Audio-pipe Turkish gör "see", Czech díra "hole" Rather like English dew (RP) or argue. Sometimes used for [dʒ] in languages like Hindi.
Template:Audio-pipe Swahili jambo Like [ɟ] said while swallowing.
K
Template:Audio-pipe English kick, skip
L
Template:Audio-pipe English leaf
Template:Audio-pipe English wool "Dark" el.
Template:Audio-pipe Zulu hlala "sit" Rather like [l] and [ʃ] or [l] and [θ] said together. Found in Welsh names like Lloyd and Llywelyn and Nelson Mandela's Xhosa name Rolihlahla.
Template:Audio-pipe Like [l] with the tongue curled or pulled back.
Template:Audio-pipe A flapped [l], like [l] and [ɾ] said together.
Template:Audio-pipe Zulu dla "eat" Rather like [l] and [ʒ], or [l] and [ð], said together.
M
Template:Audio-pipe English mime
Template:Audio-pipe English symphony Like [m], but lips touch teeth as they do in [f].
  [ ɯ ] see under W
Template:Audio-pipe see under W
N
Template:Audio-pipe English nun
Template:Audio-pipe English sing
Template:Audio-pipe Spanish Peña, French champagne Rather like English canyon.
Template:Audio-pipe Hindi वरुण [ʋəruɳ] "Varuna" Like [n] with the tongue curled or pulled back.
Template:Audio-pipe Castilian Spanish Don Juan [doɴˈχwan] Like [ŋ], but further back, in the throat.
O
Template:Audio-pipe Spanish no, French eau
Template:Audio-pipe German Boden, French Vosges Long [o]. Somewhat reminiscent of English no.
Template:Audio-pipe German Oldenburg, French Garonne
Template:Audio-pipe RP law, French Limoges Long [ɔ].
  [ ɔ̃ ] French Lyon, son Nasalized [ɔ].
Template:Audio-pipe French feu, bœufs Like [e], but with the lips rounded like [o].
Template:Audio-pipe German Goethe, French Dle, neutre Long [ø].
Template:Audio-pipe French bœuf, seul, German Göttingen Like [ɛ], but with the lips rounded like [ɔ].
Template:Audio-pipe French œuvre, heure Long [œ].
  [ œ̃ ] French brun, parfum Nasalized [œ].
Template:Audio-pipe English thigh, bath
Template:Audio-pipe Japanese 富士 [ɸɯdʑi] Fuji Like [p], but with the lips not quite touching
P
Template:Audio-pipe English pip, spit
Q
Template:Audio-pipe Arabic Qur’ān Like [k], but further back, in the throat.
R
Template:Audio-pipe Spanish perro, Scots borrow "Rolled R". (Generally used for English [ɹ] when there's no need to be precise.)
Template:Audio-pipe Spanish pero, American English kitty/kiddie "Flapped R".
Template:Audio-pipe A trill in the back of the throat. Found for /r/ in some conservative registers of French.
Template:Audio-pipe Hindi साड़ी [sɑːɽiː] "sari" Like flapped [ɾ], but with the tongue curled back.
Template:Audio-pipe RP borrow
Template:Audio-pipe American English borrow, butter Like [ɹ], but with the tongue curled or pulled back, as pronounced by many English speakers.
Template:Audio-pipe French Paris, German Riemann Said back in the throat, but not trilled.
S
Template:Audio-pipe English sass
Template:Audio-pipe English she
Template:Audio-pipe Mandarin Shàolín, Russian Пушкин (Pushkin) Acoustically similar to [ʃ], but with the tongue curled or pulled back.
T
Template:Audio-pipe English tot, stop
Template:Audio-pipe Hindi ठग [ʈʰəɡ] (thug) "thief" Like [t], but with the tongue curled or pulled back.
Template:Audio-pipe2 English cats, Russian царь tsar
  [ tʃ ] 2 English church
  [ tɕ ] 2 Mandarin 北京 Template:Audio-pipe, Polish ciebie "you" Like [tʃ], but with more of a y-sound.
  [ tʂ ] 2 Mandarin zh, Polish cz Like [tʃ] with the tongue curled or pulled back .
U
Template:Audio-pipe French vous "you"
Template:Audio-pipe RP food, French Rocquencourt, German Schumacher Long [u].
Template:Audio-pipe English foot, German Bundesrepublik
Template:Audio-pipe Australian English food (long) Like [ɨ], but with the lips rounded as for [u].
Template:Audio-pipe French lui Like [j] and [w] said together.
Template:Audio-pipe see under W
V
Template:Audio-pipe English verve
Template:Audio-pipe Hindi वरुण [ʋəruɳə] "Varuna" Between [v] and [w]. Used by some Germans and Russians for v/w, and by some speakers of British English for r.
Template:Audio-pipe Arabic / Swahili ghali "expensive" Sounds rather like French [ʁ].
Template:Audio-pipe Mandarin Hénán Like [o] but without the lips rounded, something like a cross of [ʊ] and [ʌ].
  [ ʌ ] see under A
W
Template:Audio-pipe English wow
  [ ʷ ] English rain [ɹʷɛn] Indicates a sound has lip rounding, quick.
Template:Audio-pipe what (some dialects) like [h] and [w] said together
Template:Audio-pipe Turkish kayık "caïque" Like [u], but with the lips flat; something like [ʊ].
Template:Audio-pipe Spanish agua
X
Template:Audio-pipe Scottish English loch, German Bach, Russian хороший [xɐˈroʂɨj] "good"
Template:Audio-pipe Dutch Scheveningen, Castilian Spanish Don Juan [doɴˈχwan] Like [x], but further back , in the throat. Some German and Arabic speakers have [χ] for [x].
Y
Template:Audio-pipe French rue Like [i], but with the lips rounded as for [u].
Template:Audio-pipe German Bülow, French sûr Long [y].
Template:Audio-pipe German Eisenhüttenstadt Like [ɪ], but with the lips rounded as for [ʊ].
Template:Audio-pipe Spanish llama (Castilian) More y-like than [l]. Rather like English million.
Template:Audio-pipe see under U
Template:Audio-pipe see under V
  [ ɣ ] see under V
Z
Template:Audio-pipe English zoos
Template:Audio-pipe English vision, French journal
Template:Audio-pipe formal Russian жжёшь [ʑːoʂ] "you burn" More y-like than [ʒ], something like beigey.
Template:Audio-pipe Mandarin 人民日报 Rénmín Rìbào "People's Daily", Russian журнал "journal" Like [ʒ] with the tongue curled or pulled back .
  [ ɮ ] see under L
other
Template:Audio-pipe English uh-oh, Hawaii, German The 'glottal stop', a catch in the breath. For some people, found in button [ˈbʌʔn̩], or between vowels across words: Deus ex machina [ˌdeɪəsˌʔɛksˈmɑːkɨnə]; for some Americans, in a apple [ʌˈʔæpl̩].
Template:Audio-pipe Arabic عربي (carabī) "Arabic" A subtle sound deep in the throat.
Template:Audio-pipe English tsk-tsk! or tut-tut!, Zulu icici "earring" (The English click used for disapproval.) The Zimbabwean MP Ncube has this click in his name.
Template:Audio-pipe English tchick! tchick!, Zulu ixoxo "frog" (The English click used to urge on a horse.) Found in the name of the Xhosa.
Template:Audio-pipe Zulu iqaqa "polecat" A hollow popping sound, like a cork pulled from a bottle.
  • ^1 ^2  These symbols are officially written with a tie linking them (e.g. t​͡ʃ), and are also sometimes written as single characters (e.g. ʧ) though the latter convention is no longer official. They are written without ligatures here to ensure correct display in all browsers.

Diacritic marks

All diacritics are here shown on a carrier letter such as the vowel a.

Symbol Example Description
[ ˈa ] pronunciation
[pʰɹɜʊ̯ˌnɐnsiˈeɪʃn̩]
Main stress. The mark denotes the stress of the following syllable.
[ ˌa ] Weaker stress. The mark denotes the stress of the following syllable.
[ aː ] English shh! [ʃː] Long. Often used with English vowels or diphthongs: Mayo /ˈmeːoː/ for [ˈmeɪ̯ɜʊ̯], etc.
[ aˑ ] RP caught [ˈkʰɔˑt] Semi-long. (Although the vowel is different, this is also longer than cot [ˈkʰɒt].)
[ a̯ ] English cow [kʰaʊ̯], koi [kʰɔɪ̯] This vowel runs into the vowel next to it. (In English, the diacritic is generally left off: [kaʊ].)
[ ã ] French vin blanc [vɛ̃blɑ̃] "white wine" A nasal vowel, as with a Texas twang.
[ n̥ ] Sounds like a loud whisper; [n̥] is like a whispered breath through the nose. [l̥] is found in Tibetan Lhasa.
[ n̩ ] English button A consonant without a vowel. (English [n̩] is often transcribed /ən/.)
[ d̪ ] Spanish dos, French deux The tongue touches the teeth more than it does in English.
[ k’ ] Zulu ukuza "come" Like a popped [k], pushed from the throat. Similarly [t’ p’ q’ tʃ’ ts’ tɬ’].
[ á ] Mandarin 妈 [mámā] "mother" High tone. Careful!
The Pinyin Romanization used for
Mandarin has these same diacritics,
but with different values. (However,
Thai Romanization uses them the
way the IPA does.)
[ ā ] Mandarin 妈 [mámā] "mother" Mid tone.
[ à ] Mandarin 的 [màdɤ] "horse's" Low tone.
[ â ] Mandarin 骂 [mâ] "scold" Falling tone.
[ ǎ ] Mandarin 麻 [mǎ] "hemp" Rising tone.
[ . ] English London [ˌlɐn.dən] Syllable break. (this is often redundant and therefore left off)

Brackets

Two types of brackets are commonly used to enclose transcriptions in the IPA:

  • [Square brackets] indicate the phonetic details of the pronunciation, regardless of whether they are actually meaningful to a native speaker. This is what a foreigner who does not know the structure of a language might hear. For instance, the English word lulls is pronounced [ˈlɐɫz], with different el sounds at the beginning and end. This is obvious to speakers of some other languages, though a native English speaker might not believe it. Likewise, Spanish la bomba has two different b sounds to foreign ears, [laˈβomba], though a Spaniard might not be able to hear it. Omitting such detail does not make any difference to the identity of the word.
  • /Slashes/ indicate phonemes. That is, changing symbol between slashes would make a difference in the meaning of the word, or produce nonsense. Since there is no meaningful difference between the two el sounds in the word lulls, they need to be transcribed with the same symbol: /ˈlʌlz/. Similarly, Spanish la bomba is phonemically transcribed /laˈbomba/.

A third kind of bracket is occasionally seen:

  • |Pipes| indicate that the sounds are theoretical constructs that aren't actually heard. (This is called morphophonology.) For instance, if it is decided that the -s at the ends of verbs, which surfaces as either /s/, as in talks /tɔːks/, or /z/, as in lulls /lʌlz/, is actually the former (the difference between /s/ and /z/ is meaningful in English, unlike for example in Spanish), then that could be written |s|, for a claim that phonemic /lʌlz/ is essentially |lʌls|. This is not standardized; other conventions are //lʌls//, ||lʌls||, and {lʌls}.

Lastly,

  • <Angle brackets> are occasionally used to represent the orthography: <lulls>, <la bomba>.



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