Wikipedia:United States dictionary transcription
This phonetic notation is a generic US dictionary-style respelling system, similar to those used by American Heritage, Merriam-Webster, and Random House dictionaries. Such systems were once used in other anglophone countries, before being abandoned for the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), and are still more familiar to people educated in the United States than the IPA is.
This transcription covers most dialects of English, but not the fur-fir-fern distinction of Scottish English, nor the bad-lad split of Australian English. It has been designed only for English and is not adequate for other languages.
The following tables show the transcriptions of English phonemes, along with the IPA equivalents as used on Wikipedia.
Not all dialects distinguish all of the sounds found in English. The guide below gives key words for each phoneme, and you should pronounce each symbol the same way you'd pronounce the letters in bold type in your dialect. For example, many US speakers conflate the vowels â, ô, and ŏ. If you do this, just pronounce them as if they were all â. The same goes for schwa ə and the near-close central unrounded vowel
ı (ᵻ) Similarly, among rhotic vowels, many people conflate âr ăr ĕr; îr ĭr; ōr ôr ŏr; and ûr ŭr; others drop the r unless it falls between vowels.
|ă||bad, lad, parry||băd, lăd, păr′·ē||æ|
|ā||bay, base, bare||bā, bās, bār||eɪ (ɛər)|
|â||spa, balm, bard||spâ, bâm, bârd||ɑː (ɑr)|
|ĕ||bed, berry||bĕd, bĕr′·ē||ɛ|
|ē||bee, bead, beer||bē, bēd, bēr||iː (ɪər)|
|ə||about, enter||ə·bowt′, ĕn′·tər||ə|
|ĭ||bid, mirror||bĭd, mĭr′·ər||ɪ|
|ī||bye, bide, bite, fire||bī, bīd, bīt, fīr||aɪ|
|ŏ||pod, porridge||pŏd, pŏr′·
|ô||paw, bought, born||pô, bôt, bôrn||ɔː (ɔr)|
|ō||Poe, abode, bore||pō, ə·bōd′, bōr||oʊ (ɔər)|
|ŏŏ||put, foot||pŏŏt, fŏŏt||ʊ|
|ōō||boo, boot, food||bōō, bōōt, fōōd||uː|
|oy||boy, poise||boy, poyz||ɔɪ|
|ow||pow, power||pow, pow′·ər||aʊ|
|ŭ||bud, hurry||bŭd, hŭr′·ē||ʌ|
|ū||pew, cue, pure||pū, kū, pūr||juː (jʊər)|
|ûr||fur, bird||fûr, bûrd||ɜːr|
|ö||danke schön (German)||dâng′·kə shön||ø|
|ⁿ||vin blanc (French)||vĕⁿ′ blâⁿ′||̃|
|dh||that, mother||dhăt, mŭdh′·ər||ð|
|j||joy, gin||joy, jĭn||dʒ|
|s||sad, city||săd, sĭt′·ē||s|
|th||thin, moth||thĭn, mŏth||θ|
|z||zed, pose||zĕd, pōz||z|
|zh||vision, beige||vĭzh′·ən, bāzh||ʒ|
- This could be remedied by replacing ûr with ur for fur, furry, and curd, with ir for fir, stirring, and bird, and with er for her and fern. However, this distinction is not supported by many dictionaries, and so would be difficult to maintain.
- When using the IPA for English, Wikipedia transcribes long vowels and diphthongs differently before /r/ than elsewhere.
- Properly "ᵻ", but this is not supported by all browsers. Some people pronounce it like ə, others something like ĭ.
- In many dialects, when ŏ and ô are not followed by r, they are pronounced like â. This does not need to be transcribed separately, as it is automatic.
- The vowels ōō and ŏŏ are not distinguished before r, so the diacritic can be omitted.
- Many dictionaries mark the syllable nun with secondary stress. However, the difference is in prosody, not part of the word, and disappears when the word is embedded in a longer utterance.
- Some dictionaries mark the syllable ship for secondary stress. This is not necessary, and here would be confused with true stress.
- Pronunciation respelling for English, which outlines over a dozen systems resembling this one, and compares them to the IPA
- English Phonetic Alphabet
- Wikipedia:Manual of Style (pronunciation)
- Wikipedia:IPA for English, which covers Wikipedia conventions for English
- Wikipedia:IPA, with broader coverage
- Wikipedia:Pronunciation respelling key, a guideline for respelled prə-nun-see-ay-shənz.