Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Pronunciation

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

English pronunciation in Wikipedia should be transcribed in such a way that its interpretation does not depend on the reader's accent. For this end, broad transcriptions of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) should be used, as outlined at Help:IPA for English, and the first instance should include a link to that page: pronunciation /prɵˌnʌnsiˈeɪʃən/, using a template such as {{IPA-en}} or {{IPAc-en}} (other templates are required for other languages). For English, the Wikipedia respelling system, using the {{respell}} template, can be used in addition to the IPA.

Phonetic transcriptions are not always the best way to render pronunciation. For brand names which are intended to be respellings of an existing word, it is better to provide that word than a phonetic transcription. Similarly, initialisms are better spelled out than transcribed. In both situations this will generally be unambiguous, and accessible to more of our readers.

For foreign pronunciations, a phonetic transcription is normally used, with a link to Help:IPA or to various language-specific IPA keys. Phonemic transcriptions require a link to the phonology of the language in question, as otherwise such language-specific use of IPA symbols is undefined.

Other options are to link to the corresponding entry in Wiktionary, or to include an audio file. Consider WP:not a dictionary when thinking of adding a pronunciation to an article; also, if the pronunciation is included in the main article, it is best not to repeat it in various sub-articles. Besides the clutter, subsequent edits may result in contradictory pronunciations.

See also:

Other transcription systems[edit]

If a language is not usually written in the Latin alphabet, an official romanisation may exist for it. For example, pinyin for Mandarin Chinese or the Royal Thai General System of Transcription. In such cases, both the romanisation and the IPA rendering may be given.

For English words, transcriptions based on English spelling ("pronunciation respellings") such as proh-NUN-see-AY-shən (using {{respell}}) may be used, but only in addition to the IPA ({{IPA-en}} or {{IPAc-en}}). Any transcription, whatever system is used, should link to an explanation of the symbols, which are not universally understood. US dictionary-style transcriptions such as prō·nŭn′·sē·ā′·shən (using {{USdict}}) are a possible alternative to pronunciation respellings, but are widely understood only in North America. As phonetician John Wells says,

Regrettably, Aschmann eschews IPA notation in favour of the impenetrable “respelling” system found in the American Heritage Dictionary (but not used by any phoneticians or dialectologists, unknown outside North America, and not even the same as the Trager-type notation used by Labov). In this day and age, what good reason can there be for writing “ä” instead of ɑ or “ô” instead of ɔ?[1]

For other languages, only the IPA should be used, as respellings are inadequate to convey them. If a respelling is given for a Welsh or Māori name, the implication is that this is the English pronunciation, so it should follow the English IPA transcription, not the Welsh or Māori.

Some articles have in the past used SAMPA (or X-SAMPA), which is a rather obscure convention for indicating IPA without using IPA characters. This is now deprecated. The need for SAMPA has essentially disappeared since the introduction of Template:IPA (see below), which works around the broken display of IPA characters in Internet Explorer.

Ad hoc descriptions such as "rhymes with both" or "rhymes with paid" may be useful for describing English sounds, but many such descriptions (e.g. "rhymes with bath", "rhymes with caught") will be interpreted differently depending on the reader's accent, so caution is advised, and this approach should not be used alone. However, when a name is intended to be a homonym of an existing English word or phrase, as is the case with many brand names and entertainers' names, giving that word or phrase may be all that is needed: RAZR (pronounced as razor). Nonetheless, even here some cases may be ambiguous. For example, if KIOTI is pronounced as coyote, which of the pronunciations of coyote is intended? In such cases, combining the IPA with the intended homonym may be needed. These should not be formatted with the 'respell' template, as they do not follow that format. For example, in Peter Coke (/ˈkʊk/ "cook"), the "cook" should not be formatted with the respelling template, because then it would need to be KUUK to match the key it is linked to.

One place where other systems are often appropriate without the IPA are initialisms and names which contains numbers or symbols. This is because the names of the letters, numbers, and symbols can be spelled out in normal English orthography in a way that makes the pronunciation unambiguous across dialects. For example, DOA may be better explained as "(an initialism: D-O-A)", and C++ as "pronounced cee-plus-plus", rather than as the equally correct but less accessible /ˌdiːˌoʊˈeɪ/ and /ˌsiːˌplʌsˈplʌs/. (See English alphabet#Letter names for how the names of the letters of the alphabet are spelled.) Similarly, the dispute over how to pronounce the "X" in Mac OS X may be better described as ten vs ex rather than as /ˈtɛn/ vs /ˈɛks/. In the case of Z, spelling out the letter as zee or zed is sufficient, if only one is considered correct.

References
  1. ^ John Wells’s phonetic blog, 2010 June 7

IPA style[edit]

Whenever the IPA appears in an article, it should be contained within the {{IPA}} template. This ensures that the symbols display properly in browsers such as Internet Explorer, which do not support the IPA natively. The [brackets] should be inside the {{IPA}} template for uniformity of the font.

When using the IPA, provide an explanation for the reader. If there are multiple instances of IPA in an article, you may want to use the template {{IPA notice}} at the top of the page. However, if there are only a few instances of IPA, you may instead wish to use a template to link the first to one of the help keys, such as:

(pronounced {{IPA-en|ˌaɪ ˌpiː ˈeɪ|}})

This yields:

(pronounced /ˌaɪ ˌpiː ˈeɪ/)

The shortcut:

({{IPA-en|ˌaɪ ˌpiː ˈeɪ|pron}})

yields the same in smaller font:

(pronounced /ˌaɪ ˌpiː ˈeɪ/)

{{IPA-en}} is customized specifically to English, and links to a dedicated Help:IPA for English key. For other languages, a growing number of dedicated IPA templates should be used, such as {{IPA-fr}} for French. If such a template is not available, {{IPA-all}} may be used instead.

With the IPA-en and IPA-fr etc. templates, various codes may be entered after the IPA, separated by a pipe, to change the default introductory text. A simple pipe cancels the lede text, as above.

Audio samples may be included in the IPA template. In the case of the various IPA-xx templates, it appears after the text code. Alternatively, the {{Audio-IPA}} template will apply the IPA class to any IPA text that is included.

When a specific phonetic pronunciation is indicated, as in foreign names, this is marked by square brackets. Normally a reader will not know the structure of the language in question well enough for a phonemic transcription in slashes to be useful. The use of slashes is only permitted in cases where the pronunciation represents phonemes, as in broad transcriptions of English. However, phonetic transcriptions of English may be useful to represent a specific accent, local or historical pronunciations, or how a person pronounces their own name. For example, the English name Florence would normally be given the generic transcription /ˈflɒrəns/, but in the case of Florence Nightingale we have a recording of her saying her name, and she pronounces it [ˈflɒɾəns], with a flapped ar [ɾ] that is no longer the norm in English. Non-universal pronunciations such as these should be clearly marked for what they are.

Distinction between British, American and Australian pronunciation[edit]

Shortcut:

It is often possible to transcribe a word in a generic way that is not specific to any one accent, for example observation as /ɒbsərˈveɪʃən/. Speakers of non-rhotic accents, as in much of the UK, will pronounce this [ɒbsəˈveɪʃən], and those who merge /ɒ/ and /ɑː/, as in much of the US, will pronounce it [ɑːbsərˈveɪʃən], but since such variation on the part of the speaker is automatic, it does not need to be spelled out, at least not in the case of a simple pronunciation guide to a key word in an article. Indeed, the Help:IPA for English key, designed for readers who are unfamiliar with the IPA, simply defines the sequence /ər/ as the sound at the end of runner, and warns that it may not be distinct from /ə/ for some people. That is, there is little point in transcribing observation as [ɒbsərˈveɪʃən], [ɒbsəˈveɪʃən], [ɑːbsərˈveɪʃən], or [ɑːbsəˈveɪʃən], depending on accent, and this would add a considerable amount of clutter to the article.

If the pronunciation in a specific accent is desired, square brackets may be used, perhaps with a link to IPA chart for English dialects, which describes several national standards, or with a comment that the pronunciation is General American, Received Pronunciation, Australian English, etc. Local pronunciations are of particular interest in the case of place names. If there are both local and national or international standards, it may be beneficial to list both.

Foreign names[edit]

When a foreign name has a set English pronunciation (or pronunciations), include both the English and foreign-language pronunciations; the English transcription must always be first. If the native name is different from the English name, the native transcription must appear after the native name.

For example:

'''Venezuela''' ({{IPA-en|ˌvɛnəˈzwelə}};
 {{lang-es|República Bolivariana de Venezuela}},
 {{IPA-es|reˈpuβlika βoliβaˈɾjana ðe βeneˈθwela|pron}})

which gives:

Venezuela (English pronunciation: /ˌvɛnəˈzwelə/; Spanish: República Bolivariana de Venezuela, pronounced: [reˈpuβlika βoliβaˈɾjana ðe βeneˈθwela])

Similarly,

'''Nikita Khrushchev''' ({{IPA-en|nɪˈkiːtə ˈkrʊʃtʃɛv}};
 {{IPA-ru|nʲɪˈkʲitə xruˈɕːof|lang}})

gives:

Nikita Khrushchev (pronounced /nɪˈkiːtə ˈkrʊʃtʃɛv/; Russian: [nʲɪˈkʲitə xruˈɕːof])

Transcriptions should always have a label identifying which language they are transcribing. They are normally given in the national or international standard of the language in question, unless there is a reason to give a more local pronunciation. For example, the WP:IPA for Spanish key generally uses Castilian Spanish as its standard, for Venezuela [beneˈθwela], but the local pronunciation of [beneˈswela] may be considered more relevant. If a local pronunciation is transcribed, it should be marked as such:

'''Venezuela''' ({{IPA-es|beneˈswela|local}})
Venezuela (locally: [beneˈswela])

Language-specific templates should not be used for local pronunciations, unless the keys they link to cover the IPA symbols that are used. (In this case, either IPA-es or IPA-all would work.)

However, in language articles such as Spanish phonology, where the phonology is made explicit, examples may be given in either phonetic or phonemic notation, depending on the point being made, as the reader will have the information available to make sense of either. If for some reason it is desired to indicate the pronunciation of a foreign word phonemically in a non-linguistic article, a link should be provided to the phonology of the language in question.

Tone[edit]

Tone should always be included in the transcriptions of tonal languages. Because tone numbers are ambiguous—the reader may not know whether [ma4] is supposed to be high tone, low tone, or a tone number, for example—IPA transcriptions should use diacritic marks ([má]) or tone letters ([ma˦]), unless the article explains the numbering system.

Technical issues[edit]

Microsoft Internet Explorer for Windows does not automatically use a font that contains specialized IPA characters. All passages of IPA text should be placed within the template {{IPA}}, or one of the other IPA templates such as {{IPA-en}}, which force Explorer to choose the correct font. Although Firefox will automatically use a font that includes an appropriate character, not using an IPA template will result in different characters within the same word being rendered in differing fonts. Compare:

/prɵˌnʌnsiˈeɪʃən/

with the IPA template and:

/prɵˌnʌnsiˈeɪʃən/

without.

Placement[edit]

Transcriptions are frequently placed immediately after the head words of the article in dictionary format,

London (pronounced /ˈlʌndən/ LUN-dən) is the...

or even,

London /ˈlʌndən/ is the...

However, this can often become distracting, especially when alternate conventions are used, if there are regional differences, or if the pronunciation is otherwise not straightforward. Some articles, such as Halley's Comet, have a naming or pronunciation section that covers pronunciation explicitly. In other cases the pronunciation is given in the lede, but in a second dedicated sentence, leaving the first sentence unencumbered to define the term.[example needed] Several info boxes, such as many of the biography boxes, provide for a pronunciation entry. In such cases there is generally no need to repeat it in the lede, as at Alice Liddell.

Another possibility is to relegate everything beyond the most common pronunciation to a footnote, or to remove all of it to an infobox or a footnote. Compare for example,

Greenwich Village (/ˈɡrɛnɨ/ GREN-itch, /ˈɡrɛnɨ/ GREN-ij, /ˈɡrɪnɨ/ GRIN-ich, /ˈɡrɪnɨ/ GRIN-ij),[1] in New York often simply called "the Village",

and

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (/ˈrzəvɛlt/ ROH-zə-vɛlt or /ˈrzəvəlt/ ROH-zə-vəlt; January 30, 1882 – April 12, 1945), also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States (1933–1945)

with,

Greenwich Village,[pron 1] in New York often simply called "the Village",

and

Franklin Delano Roosevelt[pron 2] (1882–1945), also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States (1933–1945)

In the latter, the pronunciation is given at the bottom of the page in a footnote:

Notes
  1. ^ Pronounced variously /ˌɡrɛnɨ/ GREN-itch, /ˈɡrɛnɨ/ GREN-ij, /ˈɡrɪnɨ/ GRIN-ich, /ˈɡrɪnɨ/ GRIN-ij.[1]
  2. ^ Pronounced /ˈrzəvɛlt/ ROH-zə-vɛlt or /ˈrzəvəlt/ ROH-zə-vəlt
References
  1. ^ a b American Heritage Dictionary entry "Greenwich+Village"

See WP:REFNOTE for help with embedding references within footnotes like this.

IPA templates on Wikipedia[edit]

The IPA should always be either enclosed within an IPA template, or placed in a table defined as class="wikitable IPA". This ensures proper formatting across browsers; it also enables editors to more easily find and review IPA transcriptions.

There are several types of IPA template. The simplest is {{IPA}}, which merely formats the enclosed text the way class="wikitable IPA" does for tables. It is normally used when the reader can be expected to follow the IPA, either because it's found in an article on phonology where the symbols are defined, because the article is tagged with {{IPA notice}}, or because an earlier instance of IPA in the text was enclosed with one of the following templates, which are designed to be more useful to the reader than the generic IPA notice.

English[edit]

For more aid to the reader, there are multiple templates specific to various languages. For generic English, they are {{IPAc-en}} and {{IPA-en}}. Either of these will link the reader to WP:IPA for English, which is a key of established conventions for transcription of English on Wikipedia, but the second automates conversion to IPA and provides mouse-over keys, and is the preferred template. A description of the various parameters of these templates, such as marking a pronunciation as American, British, or local, or adding sound files, can be found on the template pages themselves. When using any key-linking IPA template such as these, English or foreign, an editor should transcribe using the conventions of the key it links to; for example, the generic English ar sound is transcribed /r/ in Wikipedia articles, not */ɹ/, and is used where speakers of rhotic dialects would pronounce it, even in personal and place names. (These diaphonemic conventions, which are not specific to any one dialect or national standard, are covered at the top of the WP:IPA for English key.)

Technical Latin or Greco-Latin words in fields such as biology, astronomy, mythology and medicine cause frequent problems. If there is one generally accepted pronunciation in the field, use that. However, there are often multiple pronunciations heard, along a cline from highly anglicized pronunciations, as found in Shakespeare, to attempts to remain faithful to the Latin or Greek pronunciation. For example, Io may be pronounced either /ˈaɪ.oʊ/ or /ˈiː.oʊ/. Both are "correct". However, it may be impractical to list all possible pronunciations. In such cases, the traditional (literary) pronunciation is the most difficult as well as the most anglicized and is therefore the one that should be transcribed. Other conventions are generally straightforward and can all be covered, simultaneously, by including the Latin or Greek orthography, or the Greek in Latin transcription. As long as Latin long vowels ā ē ī ō ū ȳ are indicated, readers will be able to pronounce the word according to the convention of their choice. (Note that both the Latin and Greek alphabets are defective when it comes to vowel length, which determines the location of English stress in these words.)

To transcribe the pronunciation of a particular individual or dialect, or to use transcription conventions other than those of the IPA-for-English key, the {{IPA-all}} template can be used, as this links to a generic IPA key that is not restricted to any one dialect or language. It often useful to add a link to a phonological description of the dialect being transcribed; if this is done, there will normally not be any need for the generic IPA key. Such links may be done manually, as in:

{{IPA|[[Australian English phonology|[ˈmælbən]]]}} → [ˈmælbən]

The distinction between /slashes/ used for generic English and [brackets] for individual or dialectical pronunciations using the IPA-all template is intentional: A phonemic transcription (between slashes) is not meaningful without a description of the phonology of the speech variant, whereas a phonetic transcription (between brackets) can stand on its own, and allowing a choice between slashes or brackets in a template leads to frequent misuse of the symbols. As long as the phonology of the speech variety is accessible to the reader, as with the [ˈmælbən] example above, slashes may be used (/ˈmælbən/), but this will need to be done manually. Place any brackets or slashes within the IPA template, so that they are formatted in the same size and font as the enclosed transcription. (This may be individuated at your CSS code by adding a line such as ".IPA { font-family: Gentium, Charis SIL !important; }".)

A newer English IPA template is {{IPAc-en}}, which takes each English phoneme as a separate parameter:

{{IPAc-en|'|m|E|k|s|I-|k|ou}} → /ˈmɛksɨk/

This links to the same English IPA key, but has popups for each phoneme so that the reader doesn't need to click back and forth to figure out a pronunciation. It's generally used in the lede, or a footnote in the lede, of an article that does not otherwise deal much with the IPA. It will accept both IPA and SAMPA. Each phoneme, including rhotic vowels, should receive its own cell (such as the 'ou' here), and not broken up, or the wrong popups will appear. See the template for details. Note that the other parameters, such as sound files, come before the IPA in this template, but after the IPA in the older templates.

Other languages[edit]

Other languages have dedicated IPA-xx templates, where xx is the 2-letter ISO 639-1 code or ISO 639-3 code for the language in question, as in {{IPA-es}} for Spanish, {{IPA-fr}} for French, {{IPA-de}} for German, and {{IPA-cmn}} for Mandarin Chinese. These languages and templates are listed at {{IPA}}. Again, if the language you're transcribing has such an IPA key, use the conventions of that key. If you wish to change those conventions, bring it up for discussion on the key's talk page before creating transcriptions which are not supported by the key, or before changing the key so that it no longer conforms to existing transcriptions, either one of which is likely to confuse readers.

For an extended transcription, the template {{WikiIPA}} may be used at the beginning of the text, with the transcription itself formatted only with {{IPA}}.

If your language does not have an IPA-xx template at all, consider creating one. Use the 2-letter code if the language has one; otherwise use the 3-letter identification code used by Ethnologue, and either add your template to the documentation at {{IPA}} or notify us of it on the talk page. The template can be as simple as a redirect to IPA-all, but please categorize it as a future IPA template regardless. Even a redirect can be of great value in improving Wikipedia: Such templates enable us to verify that different editors are using compatible transcriptions for a language; a large number of transclusions to such a template tells us we should consider creating a dedicated template and key for that language; and finally, when the template is expanded and a key created, your transcriptions will be prelinked, saving a great deal of time.

For languages which are too obscure to ever be likely to have a dedicated template, for dialects of templated languages which do not follow the phonology assumed by the existing IPA key for that language, or for transcriptions which do not presume any particular language, {{IPA-all}}can to be used. It links to the generic WP:IPA key.

To link a phoneme to an article on that phoneme, use {{IPA link}}, for example .

Cleanup[edit]

If you're not sure how to fix a messed-up, provincial, or ambiguous transcription, there are several cleanup templates, which are monitored by editors who do. These are:

  • {{Need-IPA}}, an inline tag for pronunciations which do not include the IPA, for which an attempt at the IPA is inadequate (this includes correct IPA for what appears to be an incorrect pronunciation) or articles with IPA problems;
  • {{Pronunciation needed}} if you wish to have a pronunciation and none is provided.

Note that a simple pronunciation hint, such as an unambiguous rhyme ("rhymes with kind"), an unambiguous homonym ("pronounced like Smith"), or a spelled-out acronym ("pronounced S-O-S"), does not generally need an IPA transcription. However, more elaborate transcriptions, such as respellings and US-dictionary formats, should include the IPA as well.

Entering IPA characters[edit]

Many IPA characters cannot be typed with a regular keyboard layout, but there are various ways to enter them.

Beneath the edit box on Wikipedia is a character map.
Choose IPA in the drop down box on the left, then just click on the symbol you want, and it will be added at the insertion point in the edit box.
Copy and paste from an online IPA keyboard
Utilities like the IPA Character Picker 7 or TypeIt cover the complete range of IPA symbols and diacritics which are not available from the Wikipedia IPA character map.
Copy and paste them from elsewhere (other articles or websites, for example)
This method sometimes fails when copying characters with diacritics.
Many of the familiar Latin letters can be typed with a normal English keyboard layout. However,
( ː ) note the length mark is a different character from a colon
( ˈ ) note the primary stress mark is a different character from a typewriter apostrophe
( ɡ ) note the symbol for the voiced velar stop is a different character from the lowercase English letter g
On Mac English keyboard layouts, a few special characters can be typed:
option-c for ç
option-o for ø
option-q for œ
option-' for æ
Enter them using a special character utility
On Mac OS X, use the Character Palette: choose the "Phonetic Symbols" category and double-click on a character to enter it
Type them with a custom keyboard layout
For Mac OS X, download the IPA-SIL keyboard layout

Numeric entry[edit]

The following methods require you to know the Unicode code point of the character you wish to enter: for example, the IPA symbol [ɒ] is represented by the hexadecimal value U+0252. See the resources links below for reference charts.

Enter them using a numeric keyboard input method
On most Windows keyboard layouts, type alt-0–2–5–2 for ɒ (Note: Requires you to first set the registry key HKCU\Control Panel\Input Method\EnableHexNumpad to type REG_SZ and value 1 and reboot.)
On Mac OS X, use the Unicode Hex Input keyboard layout, type option-0–2–5–2 for ɒ
Enter them into wikitext as HTML character entities
Character entity reference (list): enter æ for æ
Numeric character reference (decimal): enter ɒ for ɒ
Numeric character reference (hexadecimal): enter ɒ for ɒ

Resources[edit]

Notes[edit]

Related templates[edit]

  • {{IPA}} allows proper display of IPA characters.
    • {{IPA-all}} has square brackets and a link to Help:IPA; it is useful for foreign languages and specific accents of English.
    • {{IPA-en}} has slashes and a link to Help:IPA for English; it is useful for general English pronunciations.
    • {{IPAc-en}} is similar to IPA-en but accepts ASCII input and displays a mouse-over key to the IPA. This is the preferred template for generic English.
  • {{IPA notice}} is a message that warns the reader of the presence of IPA characters
  • {{Need-IPA}} is an inline template noting need for a single instance of transcription.

Specific templates for foreign languages include (see Category:IPA templates for a complete list):

(See the documentation on any of these templates for other supported languages.)

See also[edit]