Wikipedia:United States dictionary transcription

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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,[1] 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.

Key[edit]

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.

US dictionary transcription
Vowels examples pronunciation  IPA 
ă bad, lad, parry băd, lăd, păr′·ē æ
ā bay, base, bare bā, bās, bār eɪ (ɛər)[2]
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
ı () roses rōs′·ɪz[3] ɨ
ĭ bid, mirror bĭd, mĭr′·ər ɪ
ī bye, bide, bite, fire bī, bīd, bīt, fīr
ŏ pod, porridge pŏd, pŏr′·ıj[4] ɒ
ô paw, bought, born pô, bôt, bôrn[4] 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
oor boor boor[5] (ʊər)
oy boy, poise boy, poyz ɔɪ
ow pow, power pow, pow′·ər
ŭ bud, hurry bŭd, hŭr′·ē ʌ
ū pew, cue, pure pū, cū, pūr juː (jʊər)
ûr fur, bird fûr, bûrd ɜːr
Foreign examples pronunciation  IPA 
ȧ casa (Spanish) kȧ′·sȧ a
é clé (French) klé e
ö danke schön (German) dâng′·kə shön ø
ü jus (French) zhü y
vin blanc (French) vĕⁿ′ blâⁿ′   ̃
- Hawaii (Hawaiian) hə·wī′·-ē ʔ
Consonants examples pronunciation  IPA 
ch chat chăt
dh that, mother dhăt, mŭdh′·ər ð
g get gĕt ɡ
hw which hwĭch ʍ~hw
j joy, gin joy, jĭn
kh loch lŏkh x
ng singer sĭng′·ər ŋ
ngg finger fĭng′·gər ŋɡ
s sad, city săd, sĭt′·ē s
sh shed shĕd ʃ
th thin, moth thĭn, mŏth θ
y yet yĕt j
z zed, pose zĕd, pōz z
zh vision, beige vĭzh′·ən, bāzh ʒ
- uh-oh ŭ-′·ō ʔ
Stress examples pronunciation  IPA 
a′ pronunciation prə·nŭn′·sē·ā′·shən[6] ˌa~ˈa
battleship băt′·əl·shĭp[7]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ When using the IPA for English, Wikipedia transcribes long vowels and diphthongs differently before /r/ than elsewhere.
  3. ^ Properly "", but this is not supported by all browsers. Some people pronounce it like ə, others something like ĭ.
  4. ^ a b 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.
  5. ^ The vowels ōō and ŏŏ are not distinguished before r, so the diacritic can be omitted.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ Some dictionaries mark the syllable ship for secondary stress. This is not necessary, and here would be confused with true stress.

See also[edit]