Pronunciation of English words

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]

Overview

Pronunciation of English words in Wikipedia is most often given in the International Phonetic Alphabet, or IPA. The goal is that interpretation should not depend on the reader's dialect, and therefore a broad transcription is generally used.

For a more complete key to the IPA, which covers sounds that do not occur in English, see Help:IPA.

Since this key covers standard American, British, and Australian pronunciations, not all of the distinctions shown here will be relevant to your dialect. If, for example, you pronounce cot and caught the same, you can ignore the difference between the symbols /ɒ/ and /ɔː/. Again, in many dialects /r/ only occurs before a vowel; if you do this, simply ignore /r/ in the pronunciation guides where you would not pronounce it. It is not necessary to give multiple transcriptions for such variation.

For a more precise use of the IPA to illustrate differences between English dialects, to transcribe languages other than English, or if the IPA symbols are not displayed on your browser, see the links at the bottom of this page.

Key

Consonants
IPA Examples
/p/ pen, spin, tip
/b/ but, web
/t/ two, sting, bet
/d/ do, odd
/tʃ/ chair, nature, teach
/dʒ/ gin, joy, edge
/k/ cat, kill, skin, queen, thick
/ɡ/ go, get, beg
/f/ fool, enough, leaf
/v/ voice, have
/θ/ thing, teeth
/ð/ this, breathe, father
/s/ see, city, pass
/z/ zoo, rose
/ʃ/ she, sure, emotion, leash
/ʒ/ pleasure, beige
/h/ ham, ahead
/m/ man, ham
/n/ no, tin
/ŋ/ ringer, sing, sink
/ŋɡ/ finger
/l/ left, bell
/r/ run, very[1]
/j/ yes
/w/ we
/ʍ/ what[2]
Marginal consonants
/x/ loch, Chanukkah[3]
/ʔ/ uh-oh (/ʌʔoʊ/), Hawaii[4]
Stress
/ˈ/ intonation
(/ˌɪntəˈneɪʃən/)[5]
/ˌ/
Vowels
IPA Examples
/ɪ/ bid, pit[6]
/iː/ bead, peat[6]
/ɛ/ bed, pet
/æ/ bad, pat
/ɑː/ balm, father, pa
/ɒ/ bod, pot, cot
/ɔː/ bawd, paw, caught
/ʊ/ good, foot, put
/uː/ booed, food
/ʌ/ bud, putt
Diphthongs
/eɪ/ bay, hey, fate
/аɪ/ buy, high, ride, write
/aʊ/ bough, how, pout
/ɔɪ/ boy, hoy
/oʊ/ beau, hoe, poke[7]
/juː/ beauty, hue, pew, new[8]
R-colored vowels[9]
/ɪr/ mirror
/ɪər/ beer, mere
/ɛr/ berry, merry
/ɛər/ bear, mare, Mary
/ær/ barrow, marry
/ɑr/ bar, mar
/ɒr/ moral, forage
/ɔr/ born, for
/ɔər/ boar, four, more
/ʌr/ hurry, Murray
/ʊər/ boor, moor
/ɜr/ (ɝ) bird, myrrh, furry
Reduced vowels
/ɨ/ roses, business (/ˈbɪznɨs/)[10]
/ə/ Rosa’s, cuppa (/ˈkʌpə/)
/ər/ (ɚ) runner,[11] mercer (/ˈmɜrsər/)

Notes

  1. Although the IPA symbol [r] represents a trill, /r/ is widely used instead of /ɹ/ in broad transcriptions of English.
  2. /ʍ/ is found in some dialects, such as Scottish and Southern American English; elsewhere it's pronounced the same as /w/.
  3. In most dialects, /x/ is pronounced as /k/ and /h/, respectively, in these two words.
  4. Most people pronounce Hawai‘i without the /ʔ/ sound.
  5. It is arguable that English does not distinguish primary from secondary stress, but it is conventional to notate them as here. Likewise, it is debatable whether a word like Glennallen is [glɛˈnælən] or [glɛnˈælən]; for clarity, the former is used.
  6. 6.0 6.1 American convention is to write /i/ when unstressed, as in wiki /ˈwɪki/ and serious /ˈsɪəriəs/; British convention is /ˈwɪkɪ/ and /ˈsɪərɪəs/, though the OED recently converted to /i/.
  7. Commonly transcribed as /əʊ/ or /oː/.
  8. In many dialects, dew /djuː/ is pronounced the same as do /duː/. This is automatic, and therefore only /djuː/ need be shown in a pronunciation guide.
  9. In many dialects, /r/ only occur before vowels. Note that due to American influence, the schwas have been left out in many Wikipedia articles. That is, /ɪər/ etc. are not always distinguished from /ɪr/ etc. When they are, the distinction may be transcribed /iːr/ ~ /ɪr/ etc. by analogy with vowels not followed by /r/.
  10. Few British dictionaries distinguish this from /ɪ/, though the OED uses pseudo-IPA symbol ɪ̵.
  11. Similarly /əl, ən, əm/ for bottle, button, rhythm,

See also



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