International Phonetic Alphabet

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Template:Infobox WS Template:IPAseries


The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA)Template:Ref label is a system of phonetic notation based on the Latin alphabet, devised by the International Phonetic Association as a standardized representation of the sounds of spoken language.[1] The IPA is used by linguists, speech pathologists and therapists, foreign language teachers, singers, actors, lexicographers, and translators.[2][3]

The IPA is designed to represent only those qualities of speech that are distinctive in spoken language: phonemes, intonation, and the separation of words and syllables.[1] To represent additional qualities of speech such as tooth-gnashing, lisping, and sounds made with a cleft palate, an extended set of symbols called the Extended IPA is commonly used.[2]

As of 2007, there are 107 distinct letters and 56 diacritics and suprasegmentals in the IPA proper. Occasionally symbols are added, removed, or modified by the International Phonetic Association.


In 1886, a group of French and British language teachers, led by the French linguist Paul Passy, formed what would come to be known (from 1897 onwards) as the International Phonetic Association (in French, l’Association phonétique internationale).[4] The original alphabet was based on a spelling reform for English known as the Romic alphabet, but in order to make it usable for other languages, the values of the symbols were allowed to vary from language to language.[5] For example, the sound Template:IPA (sh in shoe) was originally represented with the letter <c> in English, but with the letter <x> in French.[4] However, in 1888, the alphabet was revised so as to be uniform across languages, thus providing the base for all future revisions.[4][6]

Since its creation, the organization of vowels and consonants in the IPA has remained largely the same. However, the alphabet itself has undergone a few revisions. The IPA Kiel Convention in 1989 made many changes to the earlier 1932 version. A minor revision took place in 1993, with the addition of the mid-central vowel[2] and the removal of symbols for voiceless implosives,[7] and the alphabet was last revised in May 2005, when a symbol for the labiodental flap was added.[8] Apart from the addition and removal of symbols, changes to the IPA have consisted largely in renaming symbols and categories, and modifying typefaces.[2]

Extensions of the alphabet are relatively recent; the Extended IPA was created in 1990 and officially adopted by the International Clinical Phonetics and Linguistics Association in 1994.[9] Also, the VoQS (Voice Quality Symbols) were proposed in 1995 to provide a system for more detailed transcription of voice production.[10]


File:IPA chart 2005.png
A diagram illustrating the International Phonetic Alphabet.

The general principle of the IPA is to provide one symbol for each distinctive sound (or speech segment).[11] This means that the IPA does not use letter combinations unless the sound being represented can be regarded as a sequence of two or more sounds.Template:Ref label The IPA also does not usually have separate letters for two sounds if no known language makes a distinction between them (a property known as "selectiveness"[2]),Template:Ref label and it does not use letters that represent multiple sounds, the way <x> represents the consonant cluster Template:IPA in English. Additionally, in the IPA no letters have sound values that are context-dependent, such as <c> in English (and most other European languages).

The symbols of the IPA are 107 letters for consonants and vowels, 31 diacritics which further specify those sounds, and 19 suprasegmentals, which indicate such qualities as length, tone, stress, and intonation.Template:Ref label


The symbols chosen for the IPA are meant to harmonize with the Latin alphabet.Template:Ref label For this reason, most symbols are either Latin or Greek letters, or modifications thereof. However, there are symbols that are neither: for example, the symbol denoting the glottal stop Template:IPA has the form of a "gelded" question mark, and was originally an apostrophe.Template:Ref label Indeed, some symbols, such as that of the voiced pharyngeal fricative Template:IPA, though modified to look more Latin, were inspired by glyphs in other writing systems (in this case, the Arabic letter Template:Rtl-lang, `ain).[7]

Despite its preference for letters that harmonize with the Latin alphabet, the International Phonetic Association has occasionally admitted symbols that do not have this property. For example, prior to 1989, the IPA symbols for click consonants were Template:IPA, Template:IPA, Template:IPA, and Template:IPA, all of which are clearly derived from Latin and Greek letters, as well as punctuation marks. However, except for Template:IPA, none of these symbols was reflective of contemporary practice among Khoisanists (the main users of symbols for click consonants). As a result, they were replaced by the less Latin-like but more widespread symbols Template:IPA, Template:IPA, Template:IPA, Template:IPA, and Template:IPA at the IPA Kiel Convention in 1989.[12]

Symbols and sounds

The International Phonetic Alphabet has deliberately been based on the letter forms of the Latin alphabet, using as few non-Latin forms as possible.[4] The Association created the IPA so that the sound values of most consonants taken from the Latin alphabet would correspond to “international usage”.[4] Hence, the letters Template:IPA, Template:IPA, Template:IPA, (hard) Template:IPA, Template:IPA, Template:IPA, Template:IPA, Template:IPA, Template:IPA, (voiceless) Template:IPA, Template:IPA, Template:IPA, and Template:IPA have the values used in English and most other European languages , and the vowels from the Latin alphabet (Template:IPA, Template:IPA, Template:IPA, Template:IPA, Template:IPA) correspond to the vowels of Italian. Template:IPA is like the vowel in machine, Template:IPA is as in rule, etc.

Symbols derived from the Greek alphabet include Template:IPA, Template:IPA, Template:IPA, Template:IPA, Template:IPA, and Template:IPA. Of these, the only ones that closely correspond to the Greek letters they are derived from are Template:IPA and Template:IPA. Although Template:IPA, Template:IPA, Template:IPA, and Template:IPA denote beta-like, epsilon-like, phi-like, and chi-like sounds, they do not correspond to them exactly. The letter Template:IPA, though visually similar to the Greek vowel letter <υ>, upsilon, is actually a consonant.

The sound-values of modifications of Latin letters can usually be derived from those of the original letters.[13] For example, letters with a rightward-facing hook at the bottom represent retroflex consonants; and small capital letters usually represent uvular consonants. Apart from the fact that certain kinds of modification to the shape of a letter generally correspond to certain kinds of modification to the sound represented, there is no way to deduce the sound represented by a symbol from the shape of the symbol (unlike, for example, in Visible Speech).

Beyond the letters themselves, there are a variety of secondary symbols which aid in transcription. Diacritic marks can be combined with IPA letters to transcribe modified phonetic values or secondary articulations. There are also special symbols for suprasegmental features such as stress and tone that are often employed.


A transcription of the French word ébauche ("sketch, unfinished work").

Although the IPA offers over a hundred symbols for transcribing speech, it is not necessary to use all relevant symbols at the same time; it is possible to transcribe speech with various levels of accuracy. The most accurate kind of phonetic transcription, in which sounds are described in as much detail as the system allows, without any regard for the linguistic significance of the distinctions thus made, is known as narrow transcription. Anything else is termed broad transcription, though "broad" is obviously a relative term. Both kinds of transcriptions are generally enclosed in brackets,[14] but broad transcriptions are sometimes enclosed in slashes instead of brackets.

File:RPGA international.svg
Two phonetic transcriptions of the word "international," demonstrating two distinctly different pronunciations.

Broad transcription only distinguishes sounds which are considered different by speakers of a language. Sounds that may be pronounced differently between styles and dialects or depending on neighbouring sounds can be considered the "same" sound in the sense that they are allophones of the same phoneme. When a word is written as phonemes, it is usually enclosed in slashes. For example, the American pronunciation of the English word "little" may be transcribed broadly using the IPA as Template:IPA. This broad transcription merely identifies the separate phonetically relevant components of the word, and does not indicate the variety of corresponding sounds. On the other hand, the narrow transcription (placed between square brackets) specifies the way each sound is pronounced. A more narrow transcription of "little" would be different depending on the way it is said: Template:IPA, Template:IPA, or Template:IPA are just a few possibilities.

Use in dictionaries

Many British English dictionaries, such as the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary and the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary, now use the International Phonetic Alphabet to represent the pronunciation of words.[15] However, most American (and some British) volumes use their own conventions supposed to be more intuitive for readers unfamiliar with the IPA. For example, the pronunciation-representation systems in many American dictionaries (such as Merriam-Webster) use "y" for IPA Template:IPA and "sh" for IPA Template:IPA, reflecting common representations of those sounds in written English.[16] (In IPA, Template:IPA represents the sound of the French u (as in tu), and Template:IPA represents the pair of sounds in grass hut.)

One of the benefits of using an alternative to the IPA is the ability to use a single symbol for a sound pronounced differently in different dialects. For example, the American Heritage Dictionary uses ŏ for the vowel in cot (kŏt) but ô for the one in caught (kôt).[17] American regional dialects without the caught-cot merger generally pronounce cŏt like IPA Template:IPA (with an open central unrounded vowel) and côt like IPA Template:IPA (with an open back rounded vowel), whereas those with the merger pronounce the vowels ŏ and ô the same way (for example, like IPA Template:IPA in the Boston dialect). Using one symbol for the vowel in cot (instead of having different symbols for different pronunciations of the o) enables the dictionary to provide meaningful pronunciations for speakers of most dialects of English.

The IPA is also not universal among dictionaries in other countries and languages. Mass-market Czech multilingual dictionaries, for instance, tend to use the IPA only for sounds not found in the Czech language.[18]

Educational initiative

There is some interest in using native speakers to produce sound and video files of sufficient breadth to completely demonstrate all the speech sounds covered by the IPA. Such a project would encompass a large subset of the world's languages. This would aid linguistic and anthropologic research, as well as help teach language learning. Specifically, the development of a reference standard using the IPA (mirroring the idea of the Rosetta Stone) could be used in order to preserve intact examples of the sounds of human language. For education, the IPA can help standardize resources which prepare students and very young children (ages 6-36 months) for universal language acquisition through familiarization and subsequent imitation of the breadth of human speech sounds.[19] Research by Flege, Mackay and Piske (2002) and Sebastián-Gallés, Echeverría and Bosch (2005) have shown that early exposure to extra phonetic sounds and uses improves later comprehension and pronunciation (accent).

Use in orthographies and capital variants

IPA symbols have been incorporated into the standard orthographies of various languages, notably in Subsaharan Africa but in other regions as well. These include for example: Hausa; Fula; Akan; Gbe languages; and Manding languages.

An example of capital letter forms for IPA symbols is Kabiyé of northern Togo, which has Template:Unicode (capital Template:IPA). Other IPA-paired capitals include Template:Unicode.

The abovementioned and other capital forms are supported by Unicode, but appear in Latin ranges other than the IPA extensions.


The International Phonetic Alphabet divides its letter symbols into three categories: pulmonic consonants, non-pulmonic consonants, and vowels.[20][21] Each character is assigned a number, to prevent confusion between similar letters (such as Template:IPA and Template:IPA), for example in printing manuscripts. Different categories of sounds are assigned different ranges of numbers.

Consonants (pulmonic)

A pulmonic consonant is a consonant made by obstructing the glottis (the space between the vocal cords) or oral cavity (the mouth) and either simultaneously or subsequently letting out air from the lungs. Pulmonic consonants make up the majority of consonants in the IPA, as well as in human language. All consonants in the English language fall into this category.[22]

The pulmonic consonant table, which includes most consonants, is arranged in rows that designate manner of articulation, meaning how the consonant is produced, and columns that designate place of articulation, meaning where in the vocal tract the consonant is produced. The main chart includes only consonants with a single place of articulation.

View this table as an image.
Place of articulation Labial Coronal Dorsal Radical Glottal
Bilabial Labio‐
Dental Alveolar Post‐
Palatal Velar Uvular Pharyn‐
Manner of articulation
Nasal    m    ɱ    n    ɳ    ɲ    ŋ    ɴ  
Plosive p b t d ʈ ɖ c ɟ k ɡ q ɢ   ʡ ʔ  
Fricative ɸ β f v θ ð s z ʃ ʒ ʂ ʐ ç ʝ x ɣ χ ʁ ħ ʕ ʜ ʢ h ɦ
Approximant    β̞    ʋ    ɹ    ɻ    j    ɰ      
Trill    ʙ    r    *    ʀ    *  
Tap or Flap    ѵ̟    ѵ    ɾ    ɽ          *  
Lateral Fricative ɬ ɮ *    *    *       
Lateral Approx­imant    l    ɭ    ʎ    ʟ  
Lateral Flap      ɺ    *    *    *    
  • Asterisks (*) mark reported sounds that do not (yet) have official IPA symbols. See the respective articles for ad hoc symbols found in the literature.
  • Daggers (†) mark IPA symbols that do not yet have official Unicode support. Since May 2005, this is the case of the labiodental flap, symbolized by a right-hook v: Labiodental flap[23]. In the meantime the similarly shaped izhitsa (Template:IPA) is used here.
  • In rows where some symbols appear in pairs (the obstruents), the symbol to the right represents a voiced consonant (except breathy-voiced Template:IPA). However, Template:IPA cannot be voiced. In the other rows (the sonorants), the single symbol represents a voiced consonant.
  • Although there is a single symbol for the coronal places of articulation for all consonants but fricatives, when dealing with a particular language, the symbols are treated as specifically alveolar, post-alveolar, etc., as appropriate for that language.
  • Shaded areas indicate articulations judged to be impossible.
  • The symbols Template:IPA represent either voiced fricatives or approximants.
  • It is primarily the shape of the tongue rather than its position that distinguishes the fricatives Template:IPA, Template:IPA, and Template:IPA.


Coarticulated consonants are sounds that involve two simultaneous places of articulation (are pronounced using two parts of the vocal tract). In English, the [w] in "went" is a coarticulated consonant, because it is pronounced by rounding the lips and raising the back of the tongue. Other languages, such as French and Swedish, have different coarticulated consonants.

View this table as an image
ʍ Voiceless labialized velar approximant
w Voiced labialized velar approximant
ɥ Voiced labialized palatal approximant
ɕ Voiceless palatalized postalveolar (alveolo-palatal) fricative
ʑ Voiced palatalized postalveolar (alveolo-palatal) fricative
ɧ Voiceless "palatal-velar" fricative

Affricates and double articulation

Affricates and doubly articulated stops are represented by two symbols joined by a tie bar, either above or below the symbols. The six most common affricates are optionally represented by ligatures, though this is no longer official IPA usage,[14] due to the great number of ligatures that would be required to represent all affricates this way. Alternatively, a superscript notation for a consonant release is sometimes used to transcribe affricates, for example Template:IPA for Template:IPA, paralleling Template:IPA ~ Template:IPA. The symbols for the palatal plosives, Template:IPA are often used as a convenience for Template:IPA or similar affricates, even in official IPA publications, so they must be interpreted with care.

View this table as an image.
Tie bar Ligature Description
t​͡s ʦ voiceless alveolar affricate
d​͡z ʣ voiced alveolar affricate
t​͡ʃ ʧ voiceless postalveolar affricate
d​͡ʒ ʤ voiced postalveolar affricate
t​͡ɕ ʨ voiceless alveolo-palatal affricate
d​͡ʑ ʥ voiced alveolo-palatal affricate
t​͡ɬ  – voiceless alveolar lateral affricate
k͡p  – voiceless labial-velar plosive
ɡ͡b  – voiced labial-velar plosive
ŋ͡m  – labial-velar nasal stop
  • If your browser uses Arial Unicode MS to display IPA characters, the following incorrectly formed sequences may look better due to a bug in that font: Template:IPA.

Consonants (non-pulmonic)

Non-pulmonic consonants are sounds which are made without the lungs. These include clicks (found in the Khoisan languages of Africa) and implosives (found in languages such as Swahili).

View this table as an image
Clicks Implosives Ejectives
ʘ Bilabial ɓ Bilabial ʼ For example:
ǀ Laminal alveolar ("dental") ɗ Alveolar Bilabial
ǃ Apical (post-) alveolar ("retroflex") ʄ Palatal Alveolar
ǂ Laminal postalveolar ("palatal") ɠ Velar Velar
ǁ Lateral coronal ("lateral") ʛ Uvular Alveolar fricative
  • Clicks are double articulated and have traditionally been described as having a forward 'release' and a rear 'accompaniment', with the click letters representing the release. Therefore all clicks would require two letters for proper notation: Template:IPA etc., or Template:IPA. When the dorsal articulation is omitted, a Template:IPA may usually be assumed. However, recent research disputes the concept of 'accompaniment'.[25] In such approaches, the click letter represents both articulations, there is no velar-uvular distinction, and the accompanying letter represents the manner of the click: Template:IPA etc.
  • Symbols for the voiceless implosives Template:IPA are no longer supported by the IPA, though they remain in Unicode. Instead, the IPA uses the voiced equivalent with a voiceless diacritic: Template:IPA, etc.
  • Although not confirmed from any language, and therefore not explicitly recognized by the IPA, a retroflex implosive, Template:Unicode, is supported in the Unicode Phonetic Extensions Supplement, added in version 4.1 of the Unicode Standard, or can be created as a composite Template:IPA.
  • The ejective symbol is often substituted for a superscript glottal stop in glottalized but pulmonic sonorants, such as Template:IPA. These may also be transcribed as creaky Template:IPA.


File:Cardinal vowels-Jones x-ray.jpg
An X-Ray shows the sounds Template:IPA
File:Cardinal vowel tongue position-front.png
Tongue positions of cardinal front vowels with highest point indicated. The position of the highest point is used to determine vowel height and backness

The IPA defines a vowel as a sound which occurs at a syllable center.[26] Below is a chart depicting the vowels of the IPA. The IPA maps the vowels according to the position of the tongue.

The vertical axis of the chart is mapped by vowel height. Vowels pronounced with the tongue lowered are at the bottom, and vowels pronounced with the tongue raised are at the top. For example, Template:IPA (said as the "a" in "palm") is at the bottom because the tongue is lowered in this position. However, Template:IPA (said as the vowel in "meet") is at the top because the sound is said with the tongue raised to the roof of the mouth.

In a similar fashion, the horizontal axis of the chart is determined by vowel backness. Vowels with the tongue moved towards the front of the mouth (such as Template:IPA, the vowel in "met") are to the left in the chart, while those in which it is moved to the back (such as Template:IPA, the vowel in "but") are placed to the right in the chart.

In places where vowels are paired, the right represents a rounded vowel (in which the lips are rounded) while the left is its unrounded counterpart.

Template:CSS IPA vowel chart



Diacritics are small markings which are placed around the IPA letter in order to show a certain alteration or more specific description in the letter's pronunciation.[27] Sub-diacritics (markings normally placed below a letter or symbol) may be placed above a symbol having a descender (informally called a tail), e.g. Template:IPA.[27]

The dotless i, <Template:Unicode>, is used when the dot would interfere with the diacritic. Other IPA symbols may appear as diacritics to represent phonetic detail: Template:IPA (fricative release), Template:IPA (breathy voice), Template:IPA (glottal onset), Template:Unicode (epenthetic schwa), oTemplate:IPA (diphthongization). More advanced diacritics were developed in the Extended IPA for more specific pronunciation encoding.

View the diacritic table as an image
Syllabicity diacritics
ɹ̩ n̩ Syllabic e̯ ʊ̯ Non-syllabic
Consonant-release diacritics
tʰ dʰ AspiratedTemplate:Ref label No audible release
dⁿ Nasal release Lateral release
Phonation diacritics
n̥ d̥ Voiceless s̬ t̬ Voiced
b̤ a̤ Breathy voicedTemplate:Ref label b̰ a̰ Creaky voiced
Articulation diacritics
t̪ d̪ Dental t̼ d̼ Linguolabial
t̺ d̺ Apical t̻ d̻ Laminal
u̟ t̟ Advanced i̠ t̠ Retracted
ë ä Centralized e̽ ɯ̽ Mid-centralized
e̝ ɹ̝ ˔ Raised (ɹ̝ = voiced alveolar nonsibilant fricative)
e̞ β̞ ˕ Lowered (β̞ = bilabial approximant)
Co-articulation diacritics
ɔ̹ x̹ More rounded ɔ̜ x̜ʷ Less rounded
tʷ dʷ Labialized tʲ dʲ Palatalized
tˠ dˠ Velarized tˁ dˁ Pharyngealized
ɫ Velarized or pharyngealized
e̘ o̘ Advanced tongue root e̙ o̙ Retracted tongue root
ẽ z̃ Nasalized ɚ ɝ Rhotacized
a^ With aspirated voiced consonants, the aspiration is also voiced. Many linguists prefer one of the diacritics dedicated to breathy voice.
b^ Some linguists restrict this breathy-voice diacritic to sonorants, and transcribe obstruents as Template:IPA.

The state of the glottis can be finely transcribed with diacritics. A series of alveolar plosives ranging from an open to a closed glottis phonation are:

[t] voiceless [d̤] breathy voice, also called murmured
[d̥] slack voice [d] modal voice
[d̬] stiff voice [d̰] creaky voice
[ʔ͡t] glottal closure


These symbols describe the features of a language above the level of individual consonants and vowels, such as prosody, tone, length, and stress, which often operate on syllables, words, or phrases: that is, elements such as the intensity, pitch, and gemination of the sounds of a language, as well as the rhythm and intonation of speech.[28] Although most of these symbols indicate distinctions that are phonemic at the word level, symbols also exist for intonation on a level greater than that of the word.[28]

View this table as an image
Length, stress, and rhythm
ˈ Primary stress (symbol goes
before stressed syllable)
ˌ Secondary stress (symbol goes
before stressed syllable)
ː Long (long vowel or
geminate consonant)
ˑ Half-long
˘ Extra-short . Syllable break
Linking (absence of a break)
| Minor (foot) break Major (intonation) break
Global rise Global fall
e̋ or ˥ Extra high ê Fall
é or ˦ High ě Rise
ē or ˧ Mid
è or ˨ Low e Downstep
ȅ or ˩ Extra low e Upstep

Obsolete symbols and nonstandard symbols

The IPA inherited alternate symbols from various traditions, but eventually settled on one for each sound. The other symbols are now considered obsolete. An example is Template:IPA which has been standardised to Template:IPA. Several symbols indicating secondary articulation have been dropped altogether, with the idea that such things should be indicated with diacritics: Template:IPA for Template:IPA is one. In addition, the rare voiceless implosive series Template:IPA has been dropped; they are now written Template:IPA respectively.

There are also unsupported or ad hoc symbols from local traditions that find their way into publications that otherwise use the standard IPA. This is especially common with affricates such as Template:IPA for Template:IPA (the "tl" in "Nahuatl").

IPA extensions

The Extended IPA, also often abbreviated as extIPA, is a group of symbols whose original purpose was to accurately transcribe disordered speech. At the IPA Kiel Convention in 1989, a group of linguists drew up the initial set of symbols for the Extended IPA.[29] The Extended IPA was first published in 1990, and modified over the next few years before its official publication in the Journal of the International Phonetic Association in 1994 allowed it to be officially adopted by the ICPLA.[30] While its original purpose was to transcribe disordered speech, linguists have used it to designate a number of unique sounds within standard communication, such as hushing, gnashing teeth, and smacking lips. The Extended IPA has also been used to record certain peculiarities in an individual's voice, such as nasalized voicing.[2]

Aside from the extIPA, another set of symbols is used for voice quality (VoQS), such as whispering.

Sounds that have no symbols in the IPA

The remaining blank cells on the IPA chart can be filled without too much difficulty if the need arises. Some ad hoc symbols have appeared in the literature, for example for the retroflex lateral flap and the voiceless lateral fricative series, the epiglottal trill, and the labiodental plosives. (See the grey symbols in the PDF chart.) Diacritics can supply much of the remainder, which would indeed be appropriate if the sounds were allophones.[31]

Consonants without letters

Consonant sounds are created by adding diacritics to letters with similar sound values. The Spanish bilabial approximant is commonly written as a lowered fricative, Template:IPA. Similarly, voiced lateral fricatives would be written as raised lateral approximants, Template:IPA. A few languages such as Banda have a bilabial flap as the preferred allophone of what is elsewhere a labiodental flap. Similarly, a labiodental trill would be written Template:IPA (bilabial trill and the dental sign). Other taps can be written as extra-short plosives or laterals, e.g. Template:IPA, though in some cases the diacritic would need to be written below the letter. A retroflex trill can be written as a retracted Template:IPA, just as retroflex fricatives sometimes are. The remaining consonants, the uvular laterals and the palatal trill, while not strictly impossible, are very difficult to pronounce and are unlikely to occur even as allophones in the world's languages.

Vowels without letters

The vowels are similarly manageable by using diacritics for raising, lowering, fronting, backing, centering, and mid-centering.[32] For example, the unrounded equivalent of Template:IPA can be transcribed as mid-centered Template:IPA, and the rounded equivalent of Template:IPA as raised Template:IPA. True mid vowels are lowered Template:IPA, while centered Template:IPA and Template:IPA are near-close and open central vowels, respectively. The only known vowels that cannot be represented in this scheme are the compressed vowels, which would require a dedicated diacritic, such as Template:IPA.

Symbol names

An IPA symbol is often distinguished from the sound it is intended to represent since there is not a one-to-one correspondence between symbol and sound in broad transcription. While the Handbook of the International Phonetic Association states that no official names exist for symbols, it admits the presence of one or two common names for each character that are commonly used.[33] The symbols also have nonce names in the Unicode standard. In some cases, the Unicode names and the IPA names do not agree. For example, IPA calls Template:IPA "epsilon", but Unicode calls it "small letter open E".

The traditional names of the Latin and Greek letters are usually used for unmodified symbols.Template:Ref label Letters which are not directly derived from these alphabets, such as Template:IPA, may have a variety of names, sometimes based on the appearance of the symbol, and sometimes based on the sound that it represents. In Unicode, some of the symbols of Greek origin have Latin forms for use in IPA; the others use the symbols from the Greek section.

For diacritics, there are two methods of naming. For traditional diacritics, the IPA uses the name of the symbol from a certain language, for example, Template:IPA is acute, based on the name of the symbol in English and French. In non-traditional diacritics, the IPA often names a symbol according to an object it resembles, as Template:IPA is called bridge.

ASCII transliterations, IPA influence on other phonetic alphabets

Since the IPA uses symbols that are outside the ASCII character set, several systems have been developed that map the IPA symbols to ASCII characters. Notable systems include Kirshenbaum, SAMPA, and X-SAMPA. The usage of mapping systems in on-line text has to some extent been adopted in the context input methods, allowing convenient keying of IPA characters that would be otherwise unavailable on standard keyboard layouts.

See also


  1. ^ "The acronym 'IPA' strictly refers [...] to the 'International Phonetic Association'. But it is now such a common practice to use the acronym also to refer to the alphabet itself (from the phrase 'International Phonetic Alphabet') that resistance seems pedantic. Context usually serves to disambiguate the two usages."[34]
  2. ^ There are 7 basic tone marks, which are combined for contour tones; eight of these combinations are in common use.
  3. ^ In contrast, English sometimes uses combinations of two letters to represent single sounds, such as the digraphs sh and th for the sounds Template:IPA and Template:IPA/Template:IPA, respectively.
  4. ^ For instance, flaps and taps are two different kinds of articulation, but since no language has (yet) been found to make a distinction between, say, an alveolar flap and an alveolar tap, the IPA does not provide such sounds with dedicated symbols. Instead, it provides a single symbol (in this case, Template:IPA) for both sounds. Strictly speaking, this makes the IPA a phonemic alphabet, not a phonetic one.
  5. ^ "The non-roman letters of the International Phonetic Alphabet have been designed as far as possible to harmonize well with the roman letters. The Association does not recognise makeshift letters; It recognises only letters which have been carefully cut so as to be in harmony with the other letters."[35]
  6. ^ Technically, the symbol Template:IPA could be considered Latin-derived, since the question mark may have originated as "Qo", an abbreviation of the Latin word quæstio, "question".
  7. ^ For example, [p] is called "Lower-case P" and [χ] is "Chi."[36]


  1. 1.0 1.1 International Phonetic Association (IPA), Handbook.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 MacMahon, Michael K. C. (1996). "Phonetic Notation". In P. T. Daniels and W. Bright (eds.). The World's Writing Systems. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 821–846. ISBN 0-19-507993-0.
  3. Wall, Joan (1989). International Phonetic Alphabet for Singers: A Manual for English and Foreign Language Diction. Pst. ISBN 1877761508.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 International Phonetic Association, Handbook, pp 194–196
  5. "Originally, the aim was to make available a set of phonetic symbols which would be given different articulatory values, if necessary, in different languages." (International Phonetic Association, Handbook, pp 195–196)
  6. Passy, Paul (1888). "Our revised alphabet". The Phonetic Teacher: 57–60.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Pullum and Laduslaw, Phonetic Symbol Guide, pp 152 & 209
  8. Nicolaidis, Katerina (2005). "Approval of New IPA Sound: The Labiodental Flap". International Phonetic Association. Retrieved 2006-09-17. Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  9. International Phonetic Association, Handbook, p. 186
  10. Ball et al., The VoQS system
  11. “From its earliest days…the International Phonetic Association has aimed to provide ‘a separate sign for each distinctive sound; that is, for each sound which, being used instead of another, in the same language, can change the meaning of a word’.” (International Phonetic Association, Handbook, p. 27)
  12. Laver, Principles of Phonetics,pp 174–175
  13. "The new letters should be suggestive of the sounds they represent, by their resemblance to the old ones." (International Phonetic Association, Handbook, p. 196)
  14. 14.0 14.1
  15. "Phonetics". Cambridge Dictionaries Online. 2002. Retrieved 2007-03-11.
  16. "Merriam-Webster Online Pronunciation Symbols". Retrieved 2007-06-04.
    Agnes, Michael (1999). Webster's New World College Dictionary. New York, NY: Macmillan USA. pp. xxiii. ISBN 0-02-863119-6.
    Pronunciation respelling for English has detailed comparisons.
  17. "Pronunciation Key". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. 2000. Retrieved 2006-09-19.
  18. Template:Cs icon Fronek, J. (2006). Velký anglicko-český slovník (in Czech). Praha: Leda. ISBN 80-7335-022-X. In accordance with long-established Czech lexicographical tradition, a modified version of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is adopted in which letters of the Czech alphabet are employed.
  19. "Information Development News". Information Development. December 2004. pp. 233–238. doi:10.1177/0266666904049421.
  20. "Segments can usefully be divided into two major categories, consonants and vowels." (International Phonetic Association, Handbook, p. 3)
  21. International Phonetic Association, Handbook, p. 6.
  22. Fromkin, Victoria (1998) [1974]. An Introduction to Language (6th edition ed.). Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace College Publishers. ISBN 0-03-018682-X. Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (help)
  23. Proposal Summary Form for adding new characters to ISO 15924. Accessed 11 April 2007.
  24. Ladefoged, Peter (1996). The sounds of the world's languages. Oxford: Blackwell. pp. 329–330. ISBN 0-631-19815-6. Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (help)
  25. Amanda L. Miller et al., "Differences in airstream and posterior place of articulation among Nǀuu lingual stops". Submitted to the Journal of the International Phonetic Association. Retrieved 2007-05-27.
  26. International Phonetic Association, Handbook, p. 10.
  27. 27.0 27.1 International Phonetic Association, Handbook, p. 14-15.
  28. 28.0 28.1 International Phonetic Association, Handbook, p. 13.
  29. "At the 1989 Kiel Convention of the IPA, a sub-group was established to draw up recommendations for the transcription of disordered speech." ("Extensions to the IPA: An ExtIPA Chart" in International Phonetic Association, Handbook, pp 186.)
  30. "Extensions to the IPA: An ExtIPA Chart" in International Phonetic Association, Handbook, pp 186-187.
  31. "Diacritics may also be employed to create symbols for phonemes, thus reducing the need to create new letter shapes." (International Phonetic Association, Handbook, p. 27)
  32. "The diacrtics...can be used to modify the lip or tongue position implied by a vowel symbol." (International Phonetic Association, Handbook, p. 16)
  33. "...the International Phonetic Association has never officially approved a set of names..." (International Phonetic Association, Handbook, p. 31)
  34. Laver, Principles of Phonetics, p. 561
  35. International Phonetic Association (1949). The principles of the International Phonetic Association, being a description of the International Phonetic Alphabet and the manner of using it, illustrated by texts in 51 languages. London: University College, Department of Phonetics. Cited in Rei, Fukui (25 March 2004). TIPA Manual (PDF) (Version 1.3 ed.). Tokyo. Retrieved 2007-06-24.
  36. International Phonetic Association, Handbook, p. 171


  • Ball, Martin J. (1995). "The VoQS system for the transcription of voice quality". Journal of the International Phonetic Alphabet. 25 (2): 71–80. Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (help)
  • Duckworth, M. (1990). "Extensions to the International Phonetic Alphabet for the transcription of atypical speech". Clinical Linguistics and Phonetics. 4 (4): 273–280. Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (help); Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  • Hill, Kenneth C. (1988). "Review of Phonetic symbol guide by G. K. Pullum & W. Ladusaw". Language. 64 (1): 143–144. doi:10.2307/414792. Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  • International Phonetic Association (1989). "Report on the 1989 Kiel convention". Journal of the International Phonetic Alphabet. 19 (2): 67–80.
  • International Phonetic Association (1999). Handbook of the International Phonetic Association: A guide to the use of the International Phonetic Alphabet. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-65236-7 (hb); ISBN 0-521-63751-1 (pb).
  • Jones, Daniel (1988). English pronouncing dictionary (revised 14th edition ed.). London: Dent. OCLC 18415701.
  • Ladefoged, Peter (1990). "The revised International Phonetic Alphabet". Language. 66 (3): 550–552. doi:10.2307/414611. Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  • Ladefoged, Peter (1988). "Some major features of the International Phonetic Alphabet". Language. 64 (3): 577–582. doi:10.2307/414533. Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (help); Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  • Laver, John (1994). Principles of Phonetics. New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-45031-4 (hb); ISBN 0-521-45655-X (pb).
  • Pullum, Geoffrey K. (1986). Phonetic symbol guide. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-68532-2. Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (help)
  • Skinner, Edith (1990). Speak with Distinction. New York, NY: Applause Theatre Book Publishers. Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (help)

External links


Free IPA font downloads

  • Gentium, a professionally designed international font (Latin, Greek, Cyrillic) in roman and italic typefaces that includes the IPA, but not yet tone letters or the new labiodental flap.
  • Charis SIL, a very complete international font (Latin, Greek, Cyrillic) in roman, italic, and bold typefaces that includes tone letters and pre-composed tone diacritics on IPA vowels, the new labiodental flap, and many non-standard phonetic symbols. Based on Bitstream Charter, this font suffers from extremely bad hinting when rendered by Freetype on Linux.
  • Doulos SIL, a Times/Times New Roman style font. It contains the same characters as Charis SIL, but only in a single face, roman.
  • SIL93 the legacy SIL IPA93 fonts (Manuscript and Sophia) recoded in Unicode.
  • TIPA, a font and system for entering IPA phonetic transcriptions in LaTeX documents.

Keyboard input

Sound files

Unicode charts

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