Talk:Pronunciation respelling for English

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Why[edit]

This page was created due to continuing comments of readers who found the IPA somewhat difficult & unlike pronunciation guides found in American dictionaries.

American dictionaries do not use a single set of symbols, but rather each company chooses its own set — although some symbols are consistently choosen for certain sounds (esp. consonants).

If anyone finds another set of symbols not listed here, then feel free to add it to the chart. (but I expect that these will be rather similar to what is already here).

I have also included the symbols commonly used in the Americanist tradition even though these are encountered in linguistics & not really found in dictionary pronunciation guides. peace – ishwar  (speak) 17:06, 15 November 2005 (UTC)

Kenyon & Knott, IPA[edit]

I'm altering the IPA to conform to that used by Kenyon and Knott, probably the best known American pronunciation guide to use the IPA. --Angr (t·c) 20:35, 27 November 2005 (UTC)
that's a good idea. – ishwar  (speak) 05:30, 28 November 2005 (UTC)
I disagree. Wikipedia is supposed to use the canonical IPA for English, without any modifications.  Denelson83  03:29, 11 December 2005 (UTC)
Meaning what? K&K is canonical IPA. --Angr (t·c) 06:20, 11 December 2005 (UTC)
No, it isn't. I meant Wikipedia is supposed to use the alphabet put forth by the International Phonetic Association. K&K modifies some of the symbols in a way that some people may perceive as deceiving. I always use [ɹ] for the "r" sound in English, and when I see [r], it means a trill that I am not capable of pronouncing. And the small capital "U" and barred "G" aren't even recognized by the International Phonetic Association.  Denelson83  20:36, 11 December 2005 (UTC)
Okay, the barred g isn't canonical IPA, but since English doesn't have that sound anyway, it doesn't matter for purposes of this page. Using [r] instead of [ɹ] for the English alveolar approximant is extremely widespread; it's probably more common than using [ɹ]. Jones, Gimson, Wells, and Ladefoged all use [r] instead of [ɹ] in their transcriptions of English. I've only ever seen [ɹ] used where the contrast between the approximant [ɹ] and the trill [r] is the topic of the discussion, or where the language being discussed isn't English. The small capital U is just a typographic variant of ʊ. --Angr (t·c) 07:02, 12 December 2005 (UTC)
i agree with Angr. the use of <r> to indicate any rhotic is common practice in IPA & non-IPA transcription. this is probably stated somewhere in the IPA handbook (but, i dont know where & i dont have a copy of this). anyway, it is explicitly stated in the previous IPA handbook (from 1949 until they revised the alphabet).
Kenyon and Knott is the probably the best-known reference on standard US English. peace – ishwar  (speak) 19:47, 16 December 2005 (UTC)
One, I had never even heard of "Kenyon and Knott" until it was mentioned here, and two, if [r] is used so much for the "r" sound in English rather than the alveolar trill, then how come when I suggested that it be used all the time for our "r" sound, i.e., that the symbols for the trill and approximant be switched, my suggestion got shot down as 'anglocentric'?  Denelson83  23:09, 16 December 2005 (UTC)
I'm not surprised you hadn't heard of K&K since it was published in the '50s and is now often ignored because it uses IPA, which many American linguists are prejudiced against. When and where did you suggest switching the values of [r] and [ɹ]? At any rate, I wouldn't be in favor of switching them, but I'm certainly in favor of using [r] in transcriptions of English where no distinction between different types of rhotics is crucial. Consistently using [ɹ] isn't wrong, it just strikes me as a little pedantic. --Angr (t·c) 08:14, 17 December 2005 (UTC)
Where did I suggest that? Right here. Scroll down.  Denelson83  08:19, 17 December 2005 (UTC)
Okay. I agree that for the IPA to switch the meanings of [r] and [ɹ] would not only be anglocentric (since [ɹ], while found in English, is cross-linguistically a rare sound) but also confusing (after such a switch, which would certainly be controversial and rejected by lots of people, no one would know what anyone meant by either symbol anymore!). But regardless of what official IPA usage is, in practice using [r] for the English sound is so widespread, even among the most well-respected phoneticians, that doing so when no ambiguity will result can hardly be considered "wrong" in any meaningful sense. --Angr (t·c) 08:33, 17 December 2005 (UTC)
I am not from the 50s and I know what K&K is. This is known (I am hesitant to say well-known, since it seems there are less people who know IPA than I would like to believe) in the Chinese-speaking world.—Gniw (Wing) 08:21, 17 December 2005 (UTC)
Yeah, the article on Kenyon and Knott says it's used "not without controversy" in English-language teaching in Taiwan, though it doesn't say what the controversy is. I asked on the talk page months ago, but no one's ever answered. --Angr (t·c) 08:33, 17 December 2005 (UTC)
Hmm, weird that it mentions about the [r]. In fact I have never seen any English dictionary that uses IPA and does not use [r] (vs. [ɹ], which I have never seen until I find it in Wikipedia). Including those published by Oxford, even the recent ones. They all use phonemic transcriptions; none of them uses phonetic transcriptions. And BTW K&K is (or was, but I see them in modern computerized dictionaries too) also used in Hong Kong.—Gniw (Wing) 09:14, 17 December 2005 (UTC)
FTR, ever since I saw what the symbol for the English "r" sound was, I have been making a very strict distinction between [r] and [ɹ]. Seeing the [r] symbol for the alveolar approximant just seems wrong to me. -- Denelson83  09:24, 17 December 2005 (UTC)
I take that [ɹ] is the correct phonetic transcription of the English <r>, but the vast majority of dictionaries transcribe phonemically instead of phonetically. (I still remember at least one French dictionary I own transcribe the French <r> also as [r]. When dealing with one language, it is quite useless—and I might add unhelpful—to make phonetic transcriptions; they would be too detailed.)
IMHO this confusion between phonetic and phonemic transcriptions is the cause of the mess in Cantonese transcriptions with IPA in Wikipedia right now.—Gniw (Wing) 09:36, 17 December 2005 (UTC)
Let me say that I have just spent about an hour trying to clear up my own years-long confusion of why [r] is used in transcriptions of English words, while the IPA description of [r] on the typical charts calls it a trill. Now I know: the proper symbol is [ɹ], and [r] is conventionally, albiet confusingly (for one who has studied the charts and found the disjoint in usage versus official meaning), used for the typical English 'r' sound. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 207.189.230.42 (talkcontribs) 21:53, 24 December 2005
That is because Wikipedia, for some reason still not obvious to me, insists that IPA only have a narrow, phonetic meaning. The reality is that all dictionaries I have ever seen give phonemic transcriptions. (Phonetic transcriptions are unhelpful and unnecessary in dictionaries. However you say your "r" in English, you will be understood. The same go for many other sounds, some with wildly different dialectic differences; if we use phonetic transcriptions for all sounds, English pronunciation guides would be impossible to write.)—Gniw (Wing) 06:09, 27 December 2005 (UTC)

hi. just a comment on alternate symbols: the main reason for using <r> for any rhotic sounds is typographical convenience. in older times, when you wanted to include non-Roman/Greek characters in your publications, you either had to have very expensive publishing costs or you would have to handwrite in every symbol with a pen. if you simply use <r> instead of other symbols, you save time & money. this works ok for many languages that dont have more than one rhotic sound (of course this a problem for Australian langs with 3 rhotics).

other parallels are the use of <c> instead of <ʧ> or <č>, <ʃ> instead of <ɕ>, <e> instead of <ɛ>, < b > instead of <ɓ>, etc. <ʃ> is often used over <ɕ> because speakers of European langs will probably know that symbol (& sound) before the other. – ishwar  (speak) 00:58, 27 December 2005 (UTC)

Well, that won't stand here. All the non-typable IPA characters are now available in MediaWiki:Edittools.  Denelson83  01:01, 27 December 2005 (UTC)
ok. it is just tradition. these practices are still followed today and will probably continue indefinitely into the future. another issue is the use of broad/phonemic transcription instead of narrow phonetic when it is unnecessary (such as in general English pronuciation guides). peace – ishwar  (speak) 01:13, 27 December 2005 (UTC)
Very well said.
I suppose this whole discussion might have something to do with the fact that Wikipedia has an article on phonetic transcription but no article for phonemic transcription. It feels to me that people don't understand what a phonemic transcription is or what they are for.—Gniw (Wing) 06:02, 27 December 2005 (UTC)

Can't view some of the characters[edit]

Some of the characters in this article do not show up correctly using Internet Explorer. The IPA symbols are all OK, but for instance ͜ just shows up as a square. Using the Unicode template doesn't seem to help. --rossb 05:15, 16 December 2005 (UTC)

Do you have a font that supports IPA characters, such as Arial Unicode MS?  Denelson83  05:36, 16 December 2005 (UTC)
Dont understand the question. The IPA characters all display correctly based on the fonts specified in the article - although I wonder why the article lists specfic fonts rather than using the IPa template. --rossb 06:51, 16 December 2005 (UTC)
Wow. Good point!  Denelson83  07:04, 16 December 2005 (UTC)
hi. i dont use the template because it is inconvenient to fiddle with in tables. you can add it if you want. as far as i can see, the template doesnt fix the problem with displaying the extra long macron. whatever Angr did, it works on this particular version of IE I'm using now. IE just doesnt work well for this stuff, unfortunately. – ishwar  (speak) 19:51, 16 December 2005 (UTC)
If you subst the IPA template it shows up as <span title="Pronunciation in IPA" class="IPA">. Maybe if you used that in tables it would have the same effect as using {{IPA}} everywhere but be more convenient? --Angr (t·c) 08:24, 17 December 2005 (UTC)
I don't know what the example character is. (Too lazy to go to Linux and check.) But it does not show up in Safari at all, and appears just as a solid grey square. Whatever it is (and perhaps there are more), it does not seem to be displayable on MacOS X. BTW, the article itself shows up correctly and I don't see any solid grey squares there.—Gniw (Wing) 09:02, 17 December 2005 (UTC)
you are speaking of this: < ͜ > ? it shows up for me. i use safari & MacOSX. – ishwar  (speak) 09:50, 17 December 2005 (UTC)
Yes, I only see a grey square. Weird. I guess not all Macs are equal. Maybe the OS version? I'm using 10.3; which version are you using?—Gniw (Wing) 09:56, 17 December 2005 (UTC)
i'm using 10.3.9. my standard font under Safari's preferences is Lucida Grande. i am guessing that you dont have a font installed that has this glyph. looking under the Character Palette to see which font has this glyph, i see that i have only 2 fonts that have this glyph, which are Charis SIL and Doulos SIL. Both of these fonts are free and available from SIL International (the Summer Institute of Linguistics, aka the Wycliffe bible translators). so, i guess that most fonts dont have this particular glyph. – ishwar  (speak) 10:15, 17 December 2005 (UTC)
Which glyph are we talking about? I have Doulos SIL installed (I'm using Mozilla Firefox on Windows XP) and the page looks fine, but even so in your message above from 09:50, 17 December 2005 (UTC) I see a question mark after "you are speaking of this: <" --Angr (t·c) 10:20, 17 December 2005 (UTC)

oh. i was talking about the wrong one. sorry. the character i should have typed above is this:

͝   Combining Double Breve html: &#x035d;

I currently am using the following fonts which have this character: Aboriginal Sans/Serif, Charis SIL, Doulos SIL, Lucida Grande. The Lucida Grande comes with the Mac OS (and i think is unrelated to a Lucida Grande that appears on Windows machines). sorry for the confusion. – ishwar  (speak) 10:48, 17 December 2005 (UTC)

I have Ariel Unicode MS with Windows 98SE, and many characters show up as boxes in IE, and as question marks in Firefox. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 207.189.230.42 (talkcontribs) 22:16, 24 December 2005

Separate charts for vowels and diphtongs[edit]

I thought that perhaps it could be clearer to split up the vowels chart into one for vowels and one for diphtongs. What do you think? 81.232.72.53 12:04, 29 December 2005 (UTC)

Bad idea: diphthongs are vowels. I suppose you mean monophthongs & diphthongs. The problem is that there are a number of phonemes which are realised as a monophthong in some dialects & a diphthong others. Jimp 04:56, 31 October 2006 (UTC)

Help[edit]

Can someone add World Book Encyclopedia's pronunciation transcription system to the table for me? I would, but don't know how. On the right are two screen pictures of their key.

Thank you in advance,

Primetime 09:41, 5 January 2006 (UTC)

does world book really have [ʊɹ] (??) = [ɝ] ur? perhaps [ʊɹ] is really oor? also does it is use th for both voiced & voiceless? – ishwar  (speak) 02:14, 6 January 2006 (UTC)


For [ʊɹ], as in the table's tour, it gives «tur» (in addition to «towr»). For [ɝ], as in the table's urge, and term, it gives «urj», and «turm». What do you mean by voiceless /th/, though? Primetime 02:32, 6 January 2006 (UTC)

Put your finger to your throat, and then say the word "thing." Notice you don't feel any vibration during the "th". That is a "voiceless" consonant. Now, with your finger still on your throat, say the word "this." Your throat will vibrate during the "th" sound. That vibration is coming from your vocal cords, and the absence or the presence of that vibration determines whether the consonant sound you make is "voiceless" or "voiced" respectively.  Denelson83  03:13, 6 January 2006 (UTC)
sorry, i didnt mean to use lingo. i meant: does worldbook use th for both [θ] and [ð]? i didnt see tour in the table to the right. if worldbook uses the same symbol for 2 different sounds in these 2 cases, then no one could figure out what the pronunciations are (except by using another dictionary or by being a native speaker). oh well! peace – ishwar  (speak) 03:28, 6 January 2006 (UTC)
According to this message that Primetime left on my talk page, World Book does indeed use the same symbol for [θ] and [ð].  Denelson83  03:42, 6 January 2006 (UTC)
i see. thats too bad. it is my experience that many university students taking intro linguistics classes have trouble distinguishing between these sounds. and here is a reference that doesnt distinguish between them either! – ishwar  (speak) 04:07, 6 January 2006 (UTC)
Well, what can you expect from a reference that wants us to pronounce Muses /ˈmjuzɛz/? --Angr (tɔk) 06:22, 6 January 2006 (UTC)
That is how 'muses' is pronounced. What other alternative is there? —dshep/2010.01.20 —Preceding unsigned comment added by 74.190.181.32 (talk) 08:54, 20 January 2010 (UTC)
This, in my opinion, is an example of the beautiful simplicity of World Book Encyclopedia. Here it provides a quick and dirty approximation of how something should be pronounced. Exact pronunciations are needed mostly by people who are traveling to a country where the term is used and want to blend in, or by language scholars. For me, however, World Book works marvelously. Primetime 09:10, 6 January 2006 (UTC)

Long Term Suggestion[edit]

  • Since the pronunciation is a such a critical part of understanding how to communicate verbally and the fact that there are several systems in place. I feel that the IPA is the most complete system to date, however, it is not generally taught in America. Most Americans couldn't even tell you what the initialism stands for. I suggest a profile setting for registered users where they can change to the format they are most comfortable with. This would also clean up pages by revealing only the one format. Pages would then need to be updated with something akin to: {{prn | /wikiˈpiːdi.ə/ | /wɪkaɪ'pɛdi.ə/}} Pattersonc 22:55, 27 January 2006 (UTC)
  • That would require a lot of work to input the transcriptions under all other known pronunciation schemes corresponding to each IPA transcription. Denelson83 22:44, 27 January 2006 (UTC)
  • I know it would take some time to implement, but that is why I titled it "long term". I feel that the common pronunciation systems should be represented equally though many of the editors feel that IPA should be displayed alone despite the fact that the majority of Americans can not understand it. Pattersonc 22:55, 27 January 2006 (UTC)
Another problem is that there is no one system that Americans do undestand. I think it's better to have this page as well as IPA chart for English and International Phonetic Alphabet for English to allow Americans to learn IPA. --Angr 23:17, 27 January 2006 (UTC)
I support Pattersonc's proposal wholehartedly. I think the IPA is pretentious and unnecessarily complicated. Many of the IPA characters represent almost identical sounds unnecessary for learning the general pronunciation of a word. The only people needing a more-specific transcription are language scholars or travellers needing to blend in. Further, different regions of the English-speaking world use different versions of the IPA (e.g., RP vs. Australian). Contrary to Angr, most American dictionaries (e.g., Merrriam-Webster and American Heritage) use diacritics over letters already used in English. As for learning the IPA, most American readers simply go to another reference work to get the pronunciation. The sole use of the IPA is insensitive to our international audience because a majority of English speakers live in the United States. --Primetime 23:29, 27 January 2006 (UTC)
There's nothing pretentious about using an international standard. I feel like Americans' refusal to learn the IPA (which is really very easy to learn) is akin to the refusal to learn the metric system: the attitude is "The rest of the world can do it the same way if they like, but we're Americans and we're going to do it our way." I can't imagine what characters you mean when you say some "represent almost identical sounds unnecessary for learning the general pronunciation of a word". I also haven't the faintest idea what the sentence "Contrary to Angr, most American dictionaries (e.g., Merrriam-Webster and American Heritage) use diacritics over letters already used in English" is supposed to mean; it sounds like a non sequitur. I never denied that American dictionaries use diacritics; I said there's no one single standard in America, which is true. As this page shows, every dictionary uses its own symbols, meaning that users have to learn a whole new system for every dictionary they work with. --Angr 06:50, 28 January 2006 (UTC)
To exemplify "almost identical sounds," compare ɔ and ɑ. Also, I suppose that each American dictionary's symbols differ somewhat--but not very much--and almost all of them rely on diacritics very heavily. As for the comment about American defiance, every country is different. For example, the United Kingdom has refused to adopt the Euro. Does that mean that the UK is seditious? Hardly. In any case, the fundamental principle of writing is you write for your audience. Anything that makes an entry easier to understand for our audience makes it better. --Primetime 07:13, 28 January 2006 (UTC)
[ɔ] and [ɑ] are not "almost identical sounds". It's very possible that you make no distinction between certain pairs of words sometimes transcribed with those symbols (like cot and caught, perhaps) but that's because your dialect is somewhat different from the one the transcriptions are based on. (That's true, to some extent, for most of us; as a speaker of a variety of British English which differs to some extent from the variety represented in dictionaries, I have to get used to them transcribing words like bath with a vowel different from the one I use, and transcribing doll and dole differently when I pronounce them the same, etc.) I think you'll find that those sounds are distinguished in American dictionary transcriptions, and any transcription system that actually tries to represent a reasonable range of dialects of English is going to distinguish them, too. Personally, I don't object to a well-designed non-IPA system that tries to represent a wide range of English accents, but it's really quite hard to do. I do object to the idea of using a US-centric (or even Western-US-centric) transcription system that pretends that the vowels of cot and caught are the same.--JHJ 12:12, 28 January 2006 (UTC)
Not all Americans merge the sounds of 'cot' and 'caught'. Generally it is the populations west of the Appalachians that do so, and they simply do not hear the distinction (or so they say). Often there is a triple merger—cot, caught, and calm all having the same vowel, all fronted to some degree, leaving no low-back vowel at all. The short-o sound of 'pot' etc., though not recognized in any American dictionary that I am aware of, does however exist in my experience, if unconsciously, in the speech of many people in the eastern part of the country. —dshep/2010.01.20
  • "I feel like Americans' refusal to learn the IPA ",You know most Americans aren't even aware of the IPA. They've never heard of it, couldn't tell you what te initalism stands for and therefor have never been exposed to many of the symbols used its pronunciation guide, much less how to interpret them. I think it's very shortsided to think that every one who doesn't yet have the benefit of knowing the IPA (undisputedly a more complete system) should not have the benefit of knowing how to pronounce words presented on Wikipedia, an open, free encyclopedia. Even the page Wikipedia lists multiple pronunciation types. I am a fast learner and a lover of knowledge yet I still haven't mastered the IPA. You can't really expect men and women in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, et cetera to learn a new process now. I agree that it should be taught in schools, just like the metric system but limiting Wikipedia's functionality to a great many of it's English speaking readers is not going to create waves in the American school system. Pattersonc(Talk) 2:25 AM, Saturday; January 28 2006 (EST)
Those "multiple pronunciation types" you speak of in the Wikipedia article are just variant pronunciations, all using the IPA. Denelson83 07:38, 28 January 2006 (UTC)
Thanks. A quick glanced looked like US Diacritical. If latter would certainly be unpronounceable to most Americans. Pattersonc 07:48, 28 January 2006 (UTC)
You know, Pattersonc, when you said "long term", I thought you meant it in the sense of "the results would last a long time." Denelson83 00:55, 30 January 2006 (UTC)
Well, I would hate to spend my on something that is merely a flash in the pan. :-) By "long term" I meant a change that Wikipedia could offer it's registered user's account preferences sometime in the future as the setup would require a fair amount of time and effort to implement and update Wikipedia. The discussion did get off topic, but I never have a problem with that unless it becomes violent. Pattersonc(Talk) 10:22 PM, Sunday; January 29 2006 (EST)
I think it would be much faster and easier to just spend the 30 minutes needed to learn to read the IPA. --Angr 07:42, 30 January 2006 (UTC)
  • 30 minutes to learn this, when you know that almost all those symbols are unknown to most Americans? This is discussion board for civil discourse, not one for condesending remarks. Pattersonc(Talk) 3:19 AM, Monday; January 30 2006 (EST)
It's not a condescending remark. I have taught linguistics to undergraduates. We can cover the IPA in one session, and by the end of it they're reading IPA transcriptions without great difficulty. It does take longer to learn to write transcriptions yourself, but learning to recognize the symbols used in the transliteration of English (which is of course only a subset of all possible symbols) really doesn't take long. If IPA chart 2005.png is intimidating, look at IPA chart for English and just pay attention to the General American column. It's really quite an easy system. --Angr 09:57, 30 January 2006 (UTC)
I'll never switch. I've been using Merriam-Webster dictionaries since I was 15 years old. If Pattersonc's system were available, I would have it set right now to an M-W transcription. --Primetime 10:23, 30 January 2006 (UTC)
Thank you for proving my point about it being parallel to Americans' usage of imperial measures and the Fahrenheit scale. I used those myself for the first twenty-eight years of my life before moving to Germany. Now I have to use the metric system, and it really wasn't very painful to learn. Sometimes I still have to convert in my head, but not often. --Angr/talk 12:42, 30 January 2006 (UTC)
I agree that it is pretty much parallel to the American standard of not using Celcius and Metrics and yet en.Wikipedia is saturated with both formats. You are obviously intelligent and concerned about continuing education but it wasn't until your move to Germany before you decided to learn the IPA. Despite my topic heading, I would prefer multiple systems to be used so a comparison can be done and a transition could occur so that eventually every American is using the IPA, or at least become acquainted with it. Forcing its use on American wiki-readers is like attacking the tail to bring down a beast. As mentioned before, we do this for temperature and other measurments so why not for pronunciation, which doesn't have a million online translators? I would hate to deny anyone the richness of Wikipedia because an older system was deemed less valuable despite it's wide spread use. It's the difference between being a prescriptivist and a descriptivist. Pattersonc(Talk) 10:44 AM, Monday; January 30 2006 (EST)

Actually I learned IPA in America, although even in linguistics departments there it's not terribly widespread (only phoneticians use it, phonologists don't necessarily). The biggest problem with having a dual system parallel to the metric/imperial dualism we have is, as I mentioned above, the fact that there is not one single system already generally familiar to Americans. This page lists ten different systems found in America; none of them can be considered standard within the U.S. If there were just one transcription system that all American publishers used in their reference works, then I'd be all in favor of implementing that in addition to the IPA. But there isn't: we'd either have to arbitrarily pick one, or else have them all available as an option. Another serious drawback of the American systems is that most of them are designed to be used only for English words. But at Wikipedia we want to give the pronunciations not only of English words but also of foreign words, and we generally want to give transcriptions of the original foreign pronunciations, not just anglicized ones. And systems like Merriam-Webster just aren't cut out for that. --Angr/talk 16:06, 30 January 2006 (UTC)

There is no standard transcription in America because each publisher uses its own system as a competitive tool to attract users. Each hopes its particular system is simpler to use. —dshep/2010.01.20
The point I was trying to make was that you won't get American users to learn the IPA. Using it here only diminishes Wikipedia's popularity and offends Americans. Using myself as an example again, I don't care whether someone voices (vibrates their vocal cords while speaking) a /th/ phoneme or not. It's almost the exact same sound to a non-linguist like me. Thus, I see learning the IPA as a waste of time. If I need to pronounce a person's name that's transcribed in the IPA here, I look him or her up in a biographical dictionary. Before I knew about such reference books, I would just ignore the pronunciation altogether. The same is the case with more casual American readers. --Primetime 20:39, 30 January 2006 (UTC)
This is an English language website, but not an American website. There are many speakers & writers of English that are not native speakers. The reason for using the IPA is it is (supposedly) more international. I think that, for the most part, this is true. Additionally, the IPA can be used across Wikipedia websites in all languages and also for the transcription of non-English languages within thin English Wikipedia. This appears to me to be a good, consistent editorial choice.
The /th/ sounds are different for most American non-linguist native speakers. If you substitute one for the other, it will definitely be noticeable. If they are almost exactly the same sound, then so are /s/ and /z/ (in fact, i think that the difference between the two th’s is greater than s and z since the voiced th often appears more approximate-like in spectrograms of casual speech. I do, however, give you that there are less words that use the contrast between the th’s). The choice of World Book to conflate them is just poor practice — you will note that most dictionaries do not commit this error.
Remarkably, even the Penguin Dictionary (or Concise Encyclopedia), edited by David Crystal no less, uses 'th' to indicate both voiced and unvoiced varieties. —dshep/2010.01.20
I also believe that it would be easier to learn the IPA symbol to sound correspondences than to implement this Americanised conversion. All you must do is just match the symbol to the sounds in the example words. I think the resistance to the IPA is mostly due the use of modified Roman and Greek letters, which appear to be more "foreign" than letters with diacritics. No matter what dictionary system is used, the reader will need to often refer to a pronunciation key because of the inconsisent symbolisation of the sounds in the several different systems. The main difference between the IPA and the American dictionary systems is the symbolisation of vowels. Here the vowel symbols are assigned their more usual sound values in several European languages (English has, unfortunately, overgone several sound changes that has lead to these different pronunciations). However, it is also in the symbolisation of vowels where the dictionary systems differ the most. I think that learning the metric system is much more difficult than learning the IPA.
If there is wide support to create this conversion, perhaps you should start a project page. I suppose this is healthier than watching too much TV. You should be aware that there are other discussions of this matter in different places in Wikipedia, which you may want to visit for more background. (one that I know of is here: Wikipedia talk:English phonetic spelling). peace – ishwar  (speak) 21:55, 30 January 2006 (UTC)

Turned into article[edit]

I have copied this page into the article Pronunciation respelling for English and added a column to include the system used in The Concise Oxford Dictionary. −Woodstone

Now redirected this page to the copied and enhanced version at Pronunciation respelling for English. −Woodstone 21:28, 17 March 2006 (UTC)

Merge with MoS (pronunciation)?[edit]

Dear colleagues—Is there any reason this page should not be merged into the other one? We would like to reduce the plethora of MoS pages, and merging those that cross over significantly with each other is an obvious way of doing this. There is even an Entering IPA characters section there. Could this page be simply copied across to be a (large) section within that page? Tony (talk) 12:57, 5 April 2010 (UTC)

Article had been copied over to mainspace and then restored on WP space, where you found it. The forks are now merged; no point to merging with MOS. kwami (talk) 20:11, 24 April 2010 (UTC)

Fork merge[edit]

This page had been copied from WP space to mainspace, but then recreated in WP space when the inter-space link was reverted. I've now merged the page histories. The entry just above is the last from the talk page in WP space; starting below is the discussion that started on the mainspace fork after the article was copied over. kwami (talk) 20:09, 24 April 2010 (UTC)

[Talk page on mainspace fork][edit]

This page is a copy from Wikipedia:Manual of Style (pronunciation)/IPA vs. other pronunciation symbols [note: a page which as of 17 March 2006 redirects to this article], which deserves a place as a normal article. I added a column for the Concise Oxford Dictionary. I do not know if the "Oxford Dictionary" uses the same system. Technically I have not yet found a way to render an overarching bar or bow over two letters, so I represented the occurrances as two separate bars and bows. I have not found y-bar and y-bow either (alternatives for ī and ǐ). −Woodstone 14:50, 19 February 2006 (UTC)

Most British dictionaries, including Oxford ones, use IPA phonemic transcriptions (although their IPA transcription schemes vary from dictionary to dictionary, e.g. for the vowel in cat Oxford uses /a/ while Collins uses /æ/). The main exception is Chambers, which uses a diacritic-heavy system fairly similar to the American ones. At the moment the IPA column gives GenAm pronunciations; I'm not sure what the best way is to accommodate British dictionary transcriptions. One possibility might be a separate table with columns for the different IPA schemes used and for Chambers (and any other non-IPA schemes used in British sources.)--JHJ 20:32, 19 February 2006 (UTC)

The focus of this page is on the various respelling methods in dictionaries. By the "example" column, speakers of a specific variant should be able to see what sound is meant. The IPA column should be seen as a rather wide phonemic indication (but indeed originally based on US-En). There are several other pages describing with more precision the many English pronunciation variants, using IPA. Splitting the table would defeat the idea of showing how many different systems are in use. −Woodstone 20:53, 19 February 2006 (UTC)

As British dictionaries mostly use IPA, if that's your view I think you should put it back to making it clear that it's essentially about General American (which it is, even in the examples column - it thinks that horrid and hoarse have the same vowel).--JHJ 21:10, 19 February 2006 (UTC)

My copy of the COD has no IPA and uses the system I entered in the corresponding column. I would like to keep the COD column, but have no objection against stating that the IPA column is based on GenAm. A few phonetic merges/splits in the examples do not harm the general concept. −Woodstone 21:18, 19 February 2006 (UTC)

I've made an edit along those lines. I was thinking of the OED (except for the 1st edition) and the New Shorter Oxford, which do use IPA.--JHJ 12:52, 21 February 2006 (UTC)

Dates of publication[edit]

Dictionaries do change their systems. The dictionaries referred to must be cited with their edition and date of publication. Michael Z. 2006-03-18 16:56 Z

...

The COD referred to above is I believe either the 6th (1976) or 7th (1982) Edition. The pronunciation key, which I too have always thought especially useful, was a continuation of the system originally devised for the 1st Edition of the COD by H. W. Fowler , author of "The King's English" and "Fowler's English Usage", reference works that are still in print, and still much admired. Later editions followed (unfortunately I think) the lead of the 2nd Edition of the OED, which abandoned James Murray's extensive and detailed system in favour of a simpler IPA notation.

Fowler's original key for the COD, maintained I believe through the 5th Edition (1964), was arranged (if memory serves me correctly) in the following, self-explanatory manner:

mate, mete, mite, mote, mute, moot;

rack, reck, rick, rock, ruck, rook;/

mare, mere, mire, more, moor. (de)mure;/

bah, bawl, boil; how, hour; far, for, fur;/

plus unaccented ago, token, basin, flagon, bonus.

For emphasis, the main vowel of the first line was marked with a macron, those of the second line with a breve, and the third with a macron above both vowel and following r.

dshep/08aug2006

...

So the full version would look like this?
māte, mēte, mīte, mōte, mūte, mo͞ot;
răck, rĕck, rĭck, rŏck, rŭk, ro͝ok;/
ma͞re, me͞re, mi͞re, mo͞re, mo͞o͞r. (de)mu͞re;/
bah, bawl, boil; how, hour; fa͡r, fo͡r, fu͡r;/
ago, token, basin, flagon, bonus.
In "moor", I used overlapping double-macrons to create a triple macron—works in Safari and Firefox/Mac, but I don't know what it looks like in your browser.
Actually, "moor" was shown without a macron. Whether or not this was because of a technical restriction, perhaps no three-letter macron being available at the time, I do not know. In any event 'moor' was in some editions removed from the mare-mure chain and relegated to the end of the series to become 'boor" together with 'brow' and 'bower'. --dshep/21aug/2006
If this is correct, it looks like some of the transcriptions in the article are wrong. Michael Z. 2006-08-09 17:16 Z

...

Yes, I didn't think it was possible to actually show the superscript markings, but you have done so. There is in fact another: the far-for-fur series had a down-pointing arch over the vowel-plus-r, but I couldn't think of the name of that particular marking.

The transcriptions in the article need not be incorrect, it all depends upon which edition of the COD was used. Almost every edition made some minor changes to the pronunciation key, perhaps in an attempt to reflect the changing nature of pronunciation in the eighty or so years since the COD was first published (or merely changing editorial tastes). As I am of the pre-boomer generation I regret these changes, but people who have grown up not knowing of the greater range of sounds once common do not miss them and find them unnecessary (I refer specifically to the several mergers that have taken place in my lifetime). How did you do that extended-breve over "rook"? -regards, dshep/09aug/2006 (I also use Mac/Safari)

I forgot to mention one of the features noticeable in the continuing development of the Oxford pronunciation keys, namely the problem (if that's what it is) of rhoticity. Earlier versions allowed the possibility of rhotic pronunciation, newer versions do not, reflecting the near-total abandonment of r-pronunciation in southeast England, the trend-setting region of the country, and the subsequent modification of adjacent vowels, a development rendering the OED of somewhat dubious value for rhotic American speakers, at least for pronunciation purposes. -dshep/10aug2006

Unicode includes the following double-width combining diacritics, which are placed between the two letters they modify. I can enter them into the Safari edit field using the Mac OS character palette, or type them using a custom keyboard layout (don't have one including these, but it's not too hard to make). You can probably enter them in Windows by typing something like alt+0-3-5-d.
  • U+035A Combining double ring below o͛o (new in Unicode 4.1.0, doesn't work for me)
  • U+035B Combining double zigzag above o͛o (new in Unicode 4.1.0, doesn't work for me)
  • U+035C Combining double breve below o͜o (new in Unicode 4.1.0, works with DejaVu Sans font installed)
  • U+035D Combining double breve o͝o
  • U+035E Combining double macron o͞o
  • U+035F Combining double macron below o͟o
  • U+0360 Combining double tilde o͠o
  • U+0361 Combining double inverted breve o͡o
  • U+0362 Combining double rightwards arrow below o͢o
Should it be fa͡r, fo͡r, fu͡r?
As it is entered, the information is not verifiable, since we can't say for sure that it doesn't come out of some other edition. If you have a version of the COD, we should enter the transcription used, and cite the exact edition. Michael Z. 2006-08-10 06:02 Z

....

Should it be fa͡r, fo͡r, fu͡r?...... Yes, as shown. Do you know the name of that particular superscript marking? it must have one.

I have one of the COD editions I referred to, even a facsimile of the first edition, but unfortunately they are boxed up in storage as I am currently attempting to move. However, I do have at hand a copy of the first edition of the Oxford American Dictionary, published from 1980 through 2002, which may be the last Oxford dictionary still reflecting Fowler's influence. Sadly, in my opinion, the current edition of the OAD reverted to a pronunciation scheme similar to that used by Webster's.

Pronunciation key of the the OAD(1): a/act, ă/ago, ah/father. ahr/arm, air/air, aw/all, ay/age, b/boy, ch/chin, d/dog, e/egg, ĕ/taken, ee/eat, eer/ear, f/fat, g/get, h/hat, hw/wheat, ĭ/if, ı̄/pencil, ɪ/ice (dotless i), j/jam, k/king, l/leg, m/me, n/no, ng/bring, o/odd, ŏ/official, oh/oat, ohr/four, oi/oil, oo/ooze, oor/poor, or/for, ow/out, p/pin, r/red, s/sit, sh/she, t/top, th/thin, th/this (italics), u/up, ŭ/suppose, ur/her, uu/book, v/van, w/will, y/yes, z/zebra, zh/vision (italics). There is no separate listing of yoo/unite, though that was included in the Oxford Paperback Dictionary (Joyce Hawkins, 1979), the model for the OAD, and in the text unite is respelled yoo-nɪt. If you compare this list with that of the COD in the article you will find only minor changes of an editorial nature, such as the elimination of superscripts except for unstressed vowels, two uses of italics, and one non-standard letter (the OPD had used a capital "I" instead of a dotless 'i' for the sound of "ice"). The basic arrangement, and I believe, intent, is still the same. I would be happy to send you a copy of the key if you like.

I am still fairly confident that the COD column shown in the table is that of the 6th or 7th edition of the COD. Couldn't the article author verify this? -dshep/11aug/2006

I was the one who originally added the COD column and I used my copy of the fifth edition of 1964 (revision of 1974), ISBN 0198611072. −Woodstone 11:38, 11 August 2006 (UTC)
Well, good; that's settled then. I thought the 6th was the first to present the key in a different fashion but was apparently mistaken. --dshep/15aug/2006
Unicode calls the o͡o character a combining double inverted breve, but this is their functional/descriptive name in the context of computing. In the ALA-LC romanization tables it is called a ligature. I'm sure I've seen it called a tie bar somewhere.
Thanks for the citation, Woodstone. I've added the bibliographic listing to the table's key. It would be great to get all of the dictionaries properly cited.

Side note to OED[edit]

  • BOOO No one seems to care about Leaving Out The OED Pronunciations ( that is so wrong)
  • So If you would Just add What you have and/or know about The OED Pronunciations That would be grate
  • then any one who sees anything wrong with The OED part Can just edit it

--Antiedman 18:18, 22 October 2007 (UTC)

OED[edit]

Come to think of it, this table seems incomplete without the original OED's pronunciation system (I had assumed the COD used the same). Michael Z. 2006-08-11 15:11 Z
I can see two problems with that. It makes a lot more distinctions than the American systems, so it wouldn't fit well into the table, and it uses some strange symbols - are they all in Unicode?--JHJ 15:38, 11 August 2006 (UTC)
I'm not familiar with the OED system. If it's so different, then this article would benefit from at least a description or comparison, to show that the scope of the represented systems is limited. Is there an online reference? Michael Z. 2006-08-11 16:24 Z
There's a scanned version at http://lib.store.yahoo.net/lib/elearnaid/oxf-oed-pronunciation-key.jpg
Note different vowels in e.g. watch and lot, all those different "obscure" vowels, etc. Exactly what the phonetic differences referred to were (and who made the distinctions) I don't know. --JHJ 17:01, 11 August 2006 (UTC)
Thanks. Incorporating it into this article would be a project. And it looks like some of the symbols might be pushing the limits of the Unicode character set—I suspect some of the obscure letters may be hard to find in the required italic font. Do you know which edition of the OED this is from? Michael Z. 2006-08-11 17:44 Z
According to the page it's linked from, it's scanned from the Compact edition, but I think there's only one non-IPA OED scheme. The 2nd and 3rd editions use (different) IPA-based systems.--JHJ 19:00, 11 August 2006 (UTC)

Let's see if I can find all of the OED phonetic symbols from the scan:

Consonants:

b, d, f, k, l, m, n, p, t, v, z have their usual values

g, h, r, ɹ, s, w, hw, y
þ, ð, ʃ, tʃ, ʒ, dʒ, ŋ, ŋg
foreign: ṅ, lʸ, n, χ, χʸ, ɣ [?], ɣʸ

Vowels

ordinary long obscure
a ā ă
ai
au
æ æ̆
ɑ
ɑu
ɒ ɒ̄ ɒ̆
e ēə ĕ
e ēi ĕ
ę
ę̄
ə̄ ə
əi
ə
i īə ĭ
i ī ĭ
o ōə ŏ
oi
o ōə ŏ
ōu
ǫ, ǫ̀ or ǫ̀ * ǭ ǫ̆
ö
ȫ
ö
ȫ
u ūə ŭ
iu iū, iū iŭ, iŭ
u ū ŭ
iu iū, iū iŭ
ü
ü
ǖ
OED notes[edit]

italicized small letter o with ogonek + combining grave accent (ǫ̀) or small letter o grave + combining ogonek (ǫ̀)


The low hooks on letter o appear to be ogoneks, but they might be cedillas. Hard to distinguish modifier aᵃ or schwaᵊ, etc, and breve from háček in the scan. Michael Z. 2006-08-13 14:30 Z

I've got a photocopy from the 1973 Shorter Oxford. The hooks on e and o are indeed ogoneks, and breves are breves, not haceks. If by "modifier a^" you mean an a-superscript, there are in fact no a-superscripts, only schwa-superscripts, i-spuerscripts, and u-superscripts.--CJGB (Chris) 15:51, 13 August 2006 (UTC)
That helps. I think most of the symbols in the table above are now correct, or close. If the combining ogonek ( ǫ ) doesn't work, there's also a similar retroflex hook ( o̢ ) and Greek ypogegrammeni ( oͅ ). I think horn ( ơ ) is the right modifier, but there is also a hook above ( ỏ ), comma above ( o̓ ), comma above right ( o̕ ), and vertical line ( o̍ ). Please double-check that all of the modifier (superscript) letters are correct—they're very hard to distinguish in the scan.
All of these characters are supported in Unicode, but some don't display correctly in Safari and Firefox/Mac, due to missing glyphs in my font set. Firefox seems to display them all, but almost none italicized (just i, o, ö). Conversely, Safari italicizes all the right ones, but some italicized combining diacritics show up as an empty box after the letter—I think this is better, because at least you can tell where there's a problem.
I've made these class=IPA for the sake of MSIE, but I haven't tested this in Windows, and have no idea how much of it displays correctly. Michael Z. 2006-08-13 16:54 Z
I've edited your table to match my photocopy. I wasn't sure how to code an o-ogenek with a grave accent. I've used the symbol (#) to represent a the double pipe that's used to mark non-English sounds. Hope this helps.--CJGB (Chris) 20:22, 13 August 2006 (UTC)
BTW, because of it's complexity, I think this should go into a separate table in the article. The historical significance of the OED would justify that special treatment. In fact, there may be a case for splitting the existing table between IPA-like and "traditional" transcriptions, just because it's getting a bit crowded. This would also leave room for documenting the IPA conventions used by different dictionaries.--CJGB (Chris) 20:26, 13 August 2006 (UTC)
I've replaced the hash (#) with double table cell borders. An alternative would be to add a character like "double vertical line" (‖), "box drawings double vertical" (║), or "Latin letter lateral click" (ǁ), but then the cell contents wouldn't align neatly.
Also put in two versions of italic o with ogonek and grave (Safari seems to reduce these to the same combination, and displays them broken the same way, although they do work when not italicized: ǫ̀, ǫ̀). Michael Z. 2006-08-14 06:01 Z
<sup>ə</sup>(ə), <sup>i</sup>(i), and <sup>u</sup>(u) are probably more correctly represented by the phonetic modifier characters U+1D4A modifier letter small schwa (ᵊ), U+2071 superscript Latin small letter i (ⁱ), and U+1D58 modifier letter small u (ᵘ). But I suppose MSIE botches those. Michael Z. 2006-08-14 06:11 Z
The double table borders seems obtrusive. Maybe we should just asterisk these characters - after all, the double pipe is not part of the transcription, it just Murray's (or whoever's) way of flagging certain characters. It's not as if he transcribed café as [kaf||e•]--CJGB (Chris) 14:18, 14 August 2006 (UTC)
I agree. I didn't mean this table for the article yet, just trying to get a solid handle on the original data. Perhaps an asterisk and a table cell background tone. Michael Z. 2006-08-17 00:55 Z

....

The 1st edition of the OED (and I assume the system of sound notation therein) was chiefly compiled by James Murray. The Concise Oxford was first put together by H. W. Fowler before the much larger OED was complete, and used Fowler's own much simpler system of notation. The various versions of the Shorter Oxford were to begin with based upon Murray's system, but with occasional small modifications, some of which I believe you have incorporated into your table above. The various versions of the Concise Oxford were based at first on Fowler's simpler system, again with minor modifications in succeeding editions until IPA notation was adapted for all varieties of Oxford dictionaries. One can quibble about which of all these is preferable, but thank you for making the effort to get these earlier more comprehensive symbols right. I did notice a few differences between your table and the original OED scheme:

line 2, ai (aye) was not marked as foreign in the OED(1), (but was in the Shorter Oxford); line 3, #au, was not included in the OED(1), (but inserted later in the SOD); line 7, the turned script-a was in italics in all positions; line 9, italic-e (survey) was not marked as foreign in the OED (but was in the SOD); line 11, a simple schwa was shown in the ordinary column, with an ordinary e with dot superscript in the obscure column (added); line 18, italic long-o had a small-u superscript (as you have shown below), not a schwa ; then there seems to be a line missing, that of non-italic-o with ogonek (what), with macron (walk), and obscure with breve (authority); in the next line all symbols were in italics; --dshep/13aug/2006

....

An oversight in the OED ?! Surprisingly, the pronunciation key for the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (thank you for the web site) does not include an obscure 'u' ( = u-breve); that is, a symbol to indicate that unstressed 'u becomes a schwa, a symbol similar to that furnished for the other vowels. Fortunately there is a library near me that has this edition (from 1978, with supplement) and indeed no such symbol is shown in either key. For the words 'circus' and 'discus', two words frequently used in other dictionaries to illustrate a weakened 'u' ( = schwa), the OED(1) uses an italic turned script-a with breve, the obscure variety of the vowel of 'cut'. However, in the body of the dictionary itself, the pronunciation of the words 'doubtful, hopeful, playful' thankful, wilful, ', and probably others of similar construction, are all described with a u-breve, a symbol that does not occur in the OED key, but does occur in the OED derived Shorter Oxford, using the keyword 'thankful'. Perhaps this symbol should be included in any table that reflects the original notation of the Oxford Dictionary, a more inclusive notational system better suited for American purposes than the current edition of the OED with its uncompromising insistence upon RP pronunciaion. --dshep/16aug2006

....

Canadian Oxford Dictionary[edit]

The slightly adapted IPA scheme of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary can be seen at Talk:Canadian English/Archive 1#Vocalic differentiation of Canadian English from American English. It reflects some of the differences in Canadian pronunciation (e.g. /ʌu/ in house), seems to be slightly simplified for some very common pronunciation (/a/ in cat), and includes a few French sounds which are common in Canadian English (/ɑ̃/ in franglais, /ã/ in Canadien, and /ɔ̃/ in Brayon). Michael Z. 2006-03-18 17:45 Z

Practical English Dictionary for Brazilians[edit]

This is interesting, but slightly outside the topic. Perhaps foreign respelling schemes for English belong in a separate table or a different article? Michael Z. 2006-07-05 14:19 Z

I agree, this article is about respelling English for English speakers. So indeed the Brazilian variant does not belong here. −Woodstone 15:20, 5 July 2006 (UTC)
And yet no one removed it. I'm doing so now, and replacing it with Kenyon and Knott. —Angr 16:47, 23 October 2006 (UTC)

Ch-sound[edit]

In this chart, loch is given as an example for x. However, according to the Oxford Dictionaries, loch is pronounced lɒk, not lɒx. The x sound is rather for Dutch words, such as Scheveningen.

Which of the two is wrong?

  • the dictionary (meaning, loch is pronounced like in the table)

or

  • the article (meaning, loch is pronounced like in the dictionary and loch is an incorrect example)

MrTroy 15:43, 9 August 2006 (UTC)

About loch, Scots pronounce the ch as [x] or [χ]. As a speaker of Canadian English, I say [lɒx], and I don't feel it's a affectation. Naturally a lot of speakers will realise [x] as [k]. The Oxford dictionaries tend to be parochial in their pronunciations, using an RP dialect that's spoken by a minority even within the British Isles.
The [sx-] pronunciation of Scheveningen is a real jaw-breaker for most non-Dutch. Practically everyone says [sk-].--CJGB (Chris) 16:48, 9 August 2006 (UTC)
The Canadian Oxford dictionary gives the pronunciation as /lɒk, lɒx/. They seem to think that the latter is well-known enough in Canada, at least, that the pronunciation guide at the bottom of each page includes "x loch". Our chart's "loch (Scottish)" is more than sufficient to get the point across. If the [x] sound is completely foreign to a reader, than no set of symbols or examples will help them anyway. Michael Z. 2006-08-09 16:51 Z
I think the point behind the original question is that the example words in the table should be spelt using the relevant symbol in the relevant dictionary. If the COD uses <x> for [x] but not in <loch> then we shoul find another example. Of course, if the COD only uses it for Dutch words, there may not be any such word listed in all the other dictionaries in the table. jnestorius(talk) 18:02, 10 August 2006 (UTC)
I think that's getting too picky. The examples are meant only as illustrations of the phoneme in question - and "loch" does that very well for [x]. If someone insists on footnoting the Oxford pronunciation, that's all right with me.--CJGB (Chris) 19:50, 10 August 2006 (UTC)
Oh no, I don't want to list dictionary-specific examples, that would only make matters more confusing. What I am saying is, if a lot of speakers pronounce loch as lok, they may misunderstand the example. They may think that [x] means [k], because they pronounce loch as lok. Isn't there a word that most English speakers know, but do pronounce correctly? P.S. As far as I know, the COD doesn't include Dutch words with ch. I only listed the Scheveningen example because that's a word that definitely uses the [x] sound. MrTroy 20:06, 10 August 2006 (UTC)
But I think in this case "loch (Scottish)" makes the point. If you really want completeness, maybe a Hebrew example could help some readers, but I can't imagine a better-known English-language example of the [x] sound than loch. Perhaps "Bach", but if you've only ever heard [lok] then you probably think that's pronounced [bak], and not [bax]. Michael Z. 2006-08-11 01:52 Z
Having multiple examples surely increases the likelihood of at least one being helpful for a given reader. Of course, many English speakers never use [x], but there's no cure for that; it only really causes a problem interpreting the key if they substitute one sound in one word and another in another ([k] and [h], maybe, in loch and hannukkah). Or maybe even that's not a problem; at least they might guess [x] sounds somewhere between [h] and [k]... jnestorius(talk) 22:04, 11 August 2006 (UTC)
I don't object to this. Shall it be chutzpah, channukkah, or something else?--CJGB (Chris) 00:20, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

Provide a link to voiceless velar fricative, and perhaps to all of the phonemes. Keep in mind that this article is comparing notation systems. We should give the reader every opportunity to learn about foreign phonemes elsewhere, but this article shouldn't go too far in describing pronunciation. Michael Z. 2006-08-12 15:13 Z

--Ch as English Sh sound as in Chic-- I hope some one sees this how about the Sh sounding Ch as in the word Chic I for the life of me can not seem to find it If you know where it is located in the article then by all means tell me if it truly is not in the article can some one who knows more about old and new respelling systems add it please and thank you.Antiedman (talk) 00:16, 8 October 2008 (UTC) need an exspert to add this

Foreign sounds[edit]

The table should be expanded to include sounds used in foreign words, since these are listed in at least some of the dictionaries, for foreign words which are used in English. For example, the AHD[1] should include the following. Michael Z. 2006-08-17 03:47 Z

œ French feu, German schön, French oeuf, German zwölf
ü French tu, German über
KH German ich, German ach, Scottish loch
N French bon (bôN)

The last has a note:

The Dictionary uses N to reflect that the preceding vowel is nasalized. In French four nasalized vowels occur, as in the phrase un bon vin blanc: AHDNNN bläN)

In IPA: [œ̃ bɔ̃ vã blɑ̃]

There is no [ã] sound in French. —190.16.253.125 16:21, 2 March 2007 (UTC)
Maybe so. The Canadian Oxford Dictionary includes the following in its pronunciation guide, so the sound does occur in English: ã CanadienMichael Z. 2007-06-26 22:32 Z


I see that someone has removed the foreign sounds, without further discussion.[2] This article include a catalogue of the pronunciation respelling in English dictionaries, so I don't think parts of the repertoire should be removed at the whim of an editor. The editors of English dictionaries had good reason to include it, so you should have some pretty convincing justification to ignore that.

As an example, the Canadian Oxford Dictionary includes “ɑ̃ franglais, ã Canadien, ɔ̃ Brayon” in its pronunciation guide. Even if you don't use words with these sounds in English, it doesn't mean that no one does.

I'll restore this section. Michael Z. 2007-06-26 22:42 Z

IPA[edit]

I found some specific info about the use of IPA in dictionaries. This section should be preceded by some similar info about the use of other earlier respelling schemes. Cheers. Michael Z. 2006-08-17 07:47 Z

In the long run, the best layout for the article would be a history of respelling systems first, history of IPA second, and finally the table and notes at the end. The table should eventually have columns for standard Gimson IPA for British English (perhaps from a recent edition of the EPD), a Gimson scheme adapted for Brit/US English (e.g. from the Collins COBUILD Advanced Learner's English Dictionary, 4th ed.[3]), and Upton's revised IPA (COED9 or later). Michael Z. 2006-08-17 15:24 Z

There's also Kretzschmar's American English IPA scheme used by the OED: see the links I just added.
I also have two questions:
Who says that /əu/ (which should actually be /əʊ/ in the Gimson system, I believe) "is probably more accurately replaced today by /ou/ in both British and American English"? My impression of "modern RP" is still very much that it uses [əʊ] or similar (though there's a lot of variation in British accents other than RP; is that the reason for the comment?), and I don't think I've seen a source saying anything like that.
I know Upton's scheme is controversial (at least, Wells doesn't like some of the changes) but what's the reason for the bit about it representing a "narrower regional accent"?
--JHJ 18:39, 21 August 2006 (UTC)
Sounds like you know more about this than I do. All the information I gleaned from the online references cited. Apologies if I misinterpreted anything. Please do improve it or add material from better sources.
Is there an authoritative up-to-date reference on "the official" Gimson system? Wikipedia needs to find such a standard, because IPA transcriptions are all over the place. Many seem too technically precise to me, and invite criticism that IPA is too difficult. This is being discussed at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (pronunciation) .  Michael Z. 2006-09-11 01:29 Z
I think the place (on the Web) for an authoritative description of Gimson's scheme is Wells's page. --JHJ 11:24, 12 September 2006 (UTC)
Thanks, excellent ref. Copied it to Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (pronunciation). −Woodstone 12:10, 12 September 2006 (UTC)

IPA in Mac OS X's "Dictionary" application[edit]

Mac OS X 10.4 Dictionary (NOAD2) has a preference pane that allows me to select from:

  1. US English (Diacritical)
  2. US English (IPA)
  3. British English (IPA)

A copy_all-paste conveniently gives all three forms (even though only the selected one is shown).
Examples:

church | ch ər ch | |tʃərtʃ| |tʃəːtʃ|
which |(h)wi ch | |(h)wɪtʃ| |wɪtʃ|
pleasure |ˈple zh ər| |ˌplɛʒər| |ˌplɛʒə|

and

ran |ran| |røn|
run |rən| |rən| |rʌn|
pupil1 |ˈpyoōpəl| |ˌpjupəl| |ˌpjuːpɪl| |-p(ə)l|
pupil2 |ˌpjupəl| |ˌpjuːpɪl| |-p(ə)l|

The question is, when I fill out a pronunciation for Wikipedia, should I use: all, none, or a specific IPA? --Charles Gaudette 21:45, 8 September 2006 (UTC)

Such questions are being discussed in the last couple of sections at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (pronunciation). I'm just going to catch up on the last week of discussion there. Michael Z. 2006-09-11 01:23 Z
Well that wasn't a very useful response. Let me try again:
Firstly, only enter the pronunciation if there's a good reason to do it. Use an IPA pronunciation. If the Am. and Brit. pronunciations are the same, great! If the American and British pronunciations are substantially different, then you might decide to include both. If the article is on an American or British-related subject, then use the respective pronunciation—if it's not clear which is being used, then label it as American or British pronunciation. Michael Z. 2006-10-24 03:40 Z

PEDB?[edit]

The list of Title Abbreviations omits "PEDB". Can someone supply the proper expansion? The only expansion I know of is "Prostate Expression Database", which I assume is not what was intended here. :-) --128.125.196.55 18:47, 20 September 2006 (UTC)

Good question. I wanted to ask it myself. --82.139.47.117 16:32, 23 October 2006 (UTC)
If you hover your cursor over "PEDB" you see that it stands for "Practical English Dictionary for Brazilians". —Angr 16:41, 23 October 2006 (UTC)

K&K?[edit]

Since nobody agreed with me to move the IPA section to the IPA for English article, then either the name of this article should change, or else update Pronunciation respelling if in fact IPA is regarded as a form of pronunciation respelling. In any case, I think the Kenyon & Knott key belongs in the IPA section, not the first table. jnestorius(talk) 20:03, 23 October 2006 (UTC)

I think the article pronunciation respelling is simply incomplete. IPA is used for phonetic respelling of English, although perhaps its full range of uses is more accurately called transcription. Perhaps a more general title for this article would be phonetic transcription for English, but I don't know if it should be moved, because it is still restricted to the narrower topic of transcription in dictionaries.
The main reason I opposed moving the section there is that it is written as a complete overview for IPA as used in dictionaries. I would consider it somewhat narrowly-focussed and incomplete as a general history of IPA for English. Michael Z. 2006-10-24 03:55 Z

Arranging the table rows[edit]

It would be nice to rearrange the table rows, placing similar systems close to each other (as I've done with the first three: IPA, an IPA-based system, and another linguistics system). Then it would be easier to see what's common and what is contrasting between them. Any objections? Insights?

An alternative arrangement would be to arrange them in some family-tree order, with derived systems to the right of their parent system, and divided up into groups. This may be harder to do accurately without a lot more information, and may or may not make the relationships clearer. Michael Z. 2006-10-24 04:17 Z

Unsupported claim[edit]

The statement that most British dictionaries now use IPA is not documented. The only ones mentioned are dictionaries designed for non-native speakers! Kdammers 00:53, 26 June 2007 (UTC)


IPA errors in New Oxford American Dictionary[edit]

Regarding the IPA pronunciations, as accessed with Dictionary software in Mac OS X 10.4:

When "US English (IPA)" pronunciations are selected, wherever you would expect [æ], [ø] appears instead. This does not occur when "British English (IPA)" pronunciations are selected. In that case, we get [a].

The apparent encoding error affects the article, as IPA [æ] is currently displayed in the chart as being represented in the NOAD by [ø].

Do any linguists here know how the editors of the NOAD could have intentionally chosen to use [ø], rather than [æ], or even [a], for American pronunciations—considering how well NOAD otherwise matches "standard" IPA? My understanding is that the print edition does not include IPA pronunciations at all, and I don't have access to the Palm OS, Windows Mobile, or online version for comparison.

Additionally, for all IPA users of Dictionary, another glaring error occurs: when IPA pronunciations are displayed, the primary and secondary stress marks are swapped. The stress marks are correct when "US English (Diacritical)" is selected. Only an unknown number of proper names, which apparently were added for the Apple software (e.g., "Cupertino"), have their correct stress marks in each pronunciation mode.

User:nohat filed bugs with Apple and submitted a workaround for the IPA pronunciations to Mac OS X Hints [4] in August 1995.

RVJ 00:24, 8 August 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for the note, and link to the solution. It appears to be an encoding error, and not an intentional replacement.
I guess Oxford has IPA in their database, and it was decided to include it in the English-language dictionary for widest accessibility—the preferences allow pronunciation to be shown in "US English (Diacritical)", "US English (IPA)" or "British English (IPA)". As a Canadian, I use the second setting, as it is closest to the pronunciation used in my paper Canadian Oxford Dictionary.
FYI, the Canadian Oxford does simplify a couple of IPA representations, and includes three vowels from French:
  • a cat (ipa /æ/)
  • e bed (maybe ipa /ɛ/, or maybe just /e/ in Canadian English—anybody know?)
  • ɑ͂ franglais
  • a͂ Canadien
  • ɔ͂ Brayon
 Michael Z. 2007-08-08 01:35 Z
More to the point, since IPA only appears in the electronic version, the /ø/ should be noted in the table as a probable error. Simply replacing it with /æ/ is problematic, because I suspect that Oxford would replace it with /a/, as they've done for British English in the electronic version and for Canadian English in my dictionary.
I wish we had a real reference to cite as evidence that it is an error, though. Michael Z. 2007-08-08 01:45 Z

/əu/[edit]

/əu/ This traditional transcription is probably more accurately replaced today by /ou/ in both British and American English

This statement is found in an online commercial teaching site which advertises software. I see no way to establish its reliability. In contrast, most mainstream dictionaries and textbooks today use /əu/, and academical linguist John Wells [5] acknowledges that when Gimson replaced /oʊ/ with /əʊ/, he was right in terms of phonetics, although an /ɜʊ/ would have been even more accurate, since the first part of the diphthong is practically the same as in "bird" (stated also here). Another author of a phonology of English has adopted the latter transcription [6]. Wells does express his personal opinion that it might have been better if Gimson had kept the oʊ - but not on grounds of it being more accurate; just to keep things simple for foreign learners of both RP and GenAm. This pedagogical consideration can't be interpreted as supporting the present wording that /əu/ is more "accurately" replaced by /ou/.

So I think the source for the present form of the statement is insufficiently reliable and conflicts with more reliable sources. I am modifying it accordingly. --91.148.159.4 15:04, 16 August 2007 (UTC)

Non-interactive GUI[edit]

"If viewing this in your browser as opposed to as a hard copy, you may hover over the abbreviations (reference) with your mouse to get the full titles." This is not the case for me. - kdammers (I can't sign, since tilde simply erases text).

Which web browser are you using? As far as I know this is not supported in Netscape 4, but should work in most newer visual browsers. Michael Z. 2008-09-16 20:29 z

th̸ and t̷h on RHD and DPA (IPA ð), respectively[edit]

Aren't they supposed to be replaced with this character? ᵺ U+1D7A. (See this if your computer can't display that character correctly.) --­ (talk) 21:19, 19 August 2008 (UTC)

I notice that the two are represented differently in the table, with slash-h and slash-t, respectively (th̸ and t̷h). Can we confirm that both are supposed to appear like the slash-th digraph (ᵺ)? If so, then they should be replaced. Michael Z. 2008-09-16 17:31 z

One target audience is not addressed[edit]

Has anyone thought that IPA and other complex transcription methods are too hard for children to use? My point is IPA, although exact, can't be used with kids to teach them to read English properly. Compare with Furigana (small Hiragana letters above or beside the Kanji) usage in Japanese:

(だい) (がく)

Or Pinyin in Chinese:

() (xué)


Also, in Arabic there is a vocalised version to help children and foreigners to master unvocalised Arabic: compare ٌمُدَرِّسَةٌ (fully vocalised) and مدرسة (unvocalised) mudarrisa(tun) "a (female) teacher".

While IPA helps adult foreigners who are able to master IPA, it's not user-friendly enough to use in children's books.

Do we have a consistent system that teachers children to read English? --Atitarev (talk) 23:34, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

This page is for discussion of the article, not discussing the subject of the article itself. Your observation is a good one; if you uncover an existing "Pronunciation respelling for English" that is suitable for children, please do insert it into the article with the appropriate citation. Shreevatsa (talk) 01:42, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
You have a good point. I should have made myself clear. I am also looking for some more or less standard or, at least the most common respelling methods used in education. If I find one I will add to the article. --Atitarev (talk) 03:01, 16 September 2008 (UTC)

IPA myths[edit]

Some discussion and article edits (e.g.) have an implicit assumption that equivalent IPA is harder than respelling systems. Sure, if you've only been exposed to the respelling system in school, then it's “harder” for you to learn IPA too, rather than not. But I've seen zero evidence that a limited set of phonemic IPA for English is harder than the traditional respelling systems. Looking at the table in this very article, I would judge that learning IPA for English is significantly easier than preparing oneself to use any of fourteen or more respelling systems.

I am also skeptical of comparative statements about intent, e.g., that respelling systems were “meant to be easier to read than the IPA”. Weren't they in use for decades before IPA was conceived? Respelling systems seem to be for dictionary readers dealing with only their native English dialect (but there are exceptions, such as the OED's[7]). IPA is suitable for this, but also useful to represent phonology of different accents of English. Michael Z. 2008-09-16 21:53 z

  • I personally think that IPA is very good and unambiguous and is an excellent method to render pronunciation in various languages. I personally used IPA when learning English, as most Russian-English dictionaries, textbook are based on this system.
  • It may be too precise at times when you just need to highlight how a a foreign word is pronounced. Also, as in my previous section (about children as the target audience), I wouldn't teach pre-school or primary school students IPA, it will only make their life harder. Another example is older people for whom English is their first foreign language and people with limited education. For them "edyukeyshen" for "education" (just an example, as there are no strict respelling rules) would be a far better choice, than [ɛdjuˈkeɪʃən]. (It's not easy to type, one has to search for symbols too).
  • In my opinion, both IPA and respelling could be used in different settings. Atitarev (talk) 23:54, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
I mostly agree, although I don't have any language teaching experience. I have also seen elementary books for young Chinese learners of English, which use IPA extensively.
I don't think IPA has to be too precise, because it can be used purely phonemically, just as English respelling is used (e.g., columns 1–3 in the table and our Wikipedia:IPA for English). In an educational setting, I would consider the advantage of preparing learners for using IPA in the future, especially outside of the USA, where dictionaries use IPA anyway. And if the learners in your class don't have a single standardized dictionary, then you can't teach one system of respelling anyway.
The only advantage of the respelling systems I see is that they don't require someone who just picks up a dictionary to recognize new characters. But they are so diverse, that I doubt that anyone actually “learns” one, and if they did then the habit would be a liability rather than an asset when using a different dictionary.
What I object to is implying that respelling and IPA are symmetrical equivalents, except for IPA being more difficult. Michael Z. 2008-09-17 04:46 z
Surely the problem is not with IPA as such, but with the examples that are normally given to help you understand the sound represented by the IPA symbol. Each reader will have his own way of pronouncing the example word, which he then maps on to the IPA symbol. An example is the IPA symbol used for the RP vowel in 'not' (ɒ). If an American reads that symbol alongside the example 'not' then he will assume that symbol represents they way he pronounces 'not' and think that ɒ is the IPA symbol for the sound which is actually ɑ in IPA. So IMHO, the examples need to be given for RP and GA, or at least clearly specified which dialect the examples are from. The IPA never changes; the examples are unreliable universal guides. Esdibee (talk) 14:04, 14 August 2010 (UTC)

Respelling vs IPA[edit]

The article states that "the IPA system is not a respelling system because it uses symbols such as ð and θ which are not used in English spelling". Now, it may be true that the IPA system is not a respelling system, but this cannot possibly be the reason for not considering it as such, given that almost all the respelling systems mentioned in the article use ə, many use ŋ, and three even use ð (maybe these three aren't respelling systems either, but if so, the article is unclear). 20:56, 11 February 2009 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by 86.172.15.105 (talk)

Lots of squares[edit]

Many of the symbols are simply boxes on my screen, and I have no idea how to change that. Can't we have a more user-friendly page? Kdammers (talk) 13:18, 6 March 2009 (UTC)

matt feri , —Preceding unsigned comment added by 24.3.101.2 (talk) 01:41, 9 January 2010 (UTC)

The boxes are still on my screen. The chart is pretty useless as is for a lot of people. Kdammers (talk) 05:06, 9 January 2010 (UTC)

Weak vowel merger?[edit]

Do all the dictionaries really fail to distinguish between the vowels in the second syllables of "edible" and "circus"? In RP they are certainly distinct, so I would expect at least the British ones to do so. Grover cleveland (talk) 05:52, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

LOT-NORTH-FORCE?[edit]

Examples of keywords from these lexical sets are conspicuously absent from the table. If anyone has access to the dictionaries, it would be good to add them. Cheers. Grover cleveland (talk) 05:56, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

I've added some space for NORTH and FORCE. Grover cleveland (talk) 16:21, 29 September 2010 (UTC)

The letter N[edit]

The letter N is not represented in the consonant table. Bob the WikipediaN (talkcontribs) 17:34, 31 January 2012 (UTC)

How do you pronounce wasp?[edit]

In the chart, wasp is given as an example of ɒ, like 'not' or 'pot' - I would pronounce it like 'caught, paw' or ɔː. Is this just me, or is it dialect dependent? Hew Johns (talk) 21:20, 8 November 2012 (UTC)

No idea. The OED has [ˈwɒsp] for RP. — kwami (talk) 21:33, 7 May 2013 (UTC)
I (southern UK accent) pronounce "wasp" like "toss", with a vowel that is very similar, if not identical to the vowel in "not" or "pot" (I'm not sure if the slight different is simply because of the following consonant). It is definitely very different from the vowel in "caught" or "paw", which I pronounce the same as in "or", "war", "law", "sore". Bluap (talk) 21:52, 7 May 2013 (UTC)


ʍ is not hw[edit]

Why do we have /hw/ listed where IPA uses /ʍ/? The sounds are quite distinct. -- Evertype· 13:24, 7 May 2013 (UTC)

Same reason as for /r/: It's more accessible. Many phonologists analyze the sound as /hw/. Not sure how the sounds are distinct: they overlap. — kwami (talk) 21:32, 7 May 2013 (UTC)

Respelling variants, not orthographic variants[edit]

This article is meant to show the many variants of "pronunciation respelling" in use. The article English orthography has a similar table to show the many orthographic variants to spell the sounds of English. Please do not mix elements of the latter into this table. One example of pronunciation of the sound represented in the row is sufficient. Only for unfamiliar or non-English sounds several examples may be useful. −Woodstone (talk) 10:16, 5 August 2013 (UTC)

Duplication in table[edit]

Isn't the comparison table wide enough already? Now after Kwami's edits the Wikipedia respelling system is found both in column "WPRK" and column "Wikipedia²". Since they're not identical I'm not sure which one to get rid of. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 21:26, 5 July 2014 (UTC)

OK, done. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 03:52, 6 July 2014 (UTC)