Pronunciation of English words
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.
- Although the IPA symbol [r] represents a trill, /r/ is widely used instead of /ɹ/ in broad transcriptions of English.
- /ʍ/ is found in some dialects, such as Scottish and Southern American English; elsewhere it's pronounced the same as /w/.
- In most dialects, /x/ is pronounced as /k/ and /h/, respectively, in these two words.
- Most people pronounce Hawai‘i without the /ʔ/ sound.
- 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.
- 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/.
- Commonly transcribed as /əʊ/ or /oː/.
- 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.
- 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/.
- Few British dictionaries distinguish this from /ɪ/, though the OED uses pseudo-IPA symbol ɪ̵.
- Similarly /əl, ən, əm/ for bottle, button, rhythm,
- To compare these symbols with dictionary conventions you may be more familiar with, see Pronunciation respelling for English, which lists the pronunciation guides of fourteen English dictionaries.
- For differences between the national dialects of English, see International Phonetic Alphabet for English, which compares the vowels of Received Pronunciation, General American, and General Australian.
- For use of the IPA in other languages, see Help:IPA for a quick overview, or the detailed IPA article.
- If your browser does not display these symbols, you probably need to install a font that includes the IPA. A good free IPA font is Gentium; download links can be found on that page.