Help talk:IPA/English

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Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

/ɜː/ vs /ɜːr/[edit]

I'm sorry I missed the debate above. When we set this all up, the {{IPA-endia}} template was intended to handle things that fell through the cracks, like IPA: [ɜː]. One of the reasons for that was so IPA-en wouldn't be abused the way some of the people above were concerned about. I think it still might be a possibility to handle it this way. — kwami (talk) 10:10, 19 July 2018 (UTC)

I would certainly support that solution. Dbfirs 11:08, 19 July 2018 (UTC)
International Phonetic Alphabet chart for English dialects which {{IPA-endia}} links to has become something entirely different since the template was created—the page started as a phonemic chart and now it's an incredibly detailed phonetic chart almost to the point of being useless. If we were to create a chart illustrating differences between national varieties that is mostly phonemic, perhaps we could use a template that links to such a chart, but {{IPA-endia}} as it stands now is pretty useless—I bet none of its usages adhere to the chart it links to anyway—or if they did, the chart is so narrow they would be of benefit to virtually no one. Nardog (talk) 14:03, 19 July 2018 (UTC)
If we used {{IPA-endia}} the way MOS:PRON instructs, the RP pronunciation of Betelgeuse must be transcribed as [ˈbɪi̯tɫd͡ʒəːz̥], bœuf bourguignon as [ˌbəːf ˈbo̞ːɡɪnjɒ̃], and so on. Would that really benefit readers? Nardog (talk) 08:11, 9 August 2018 (UTC)

Since this has stalled the implementation of /ɜː/, I want to ask again. @SMcCandlish, Woodstone, J. 'mach' wust, Peter coxhead, Gilgamesh~enwiki, Macrakis, Dbfirs, LiliCharlie, and Maczkopeti: Does this affect your opinion? Had you known about {{IPA-endia}}, would you have !voted differently? Nardog (talk) 08:11, 9 August 2018 (UTC)

My only concern was to avoid implying an incorrect pronunciation that is not supported by major dictionaries. I'd be happy to substitute {{IPA-endia}} if it was clear and people wouldn't revert the change. Dbfirs 11:27, 9 August 2018 (UTC)
My standpoint would have stayed the same as it is based on a wider principle. The template should never obscure or reject a valid (single) IPA symbol, where I consider /ɜː/ a single symbol. −Woodstone (talk) 14:19, 9 August 2018 (UTC)
I think {{IPA-endia}} is not acceptable as an alternative. Think of the consequences. An article opening as the following:
A föhn or foehn (UK: /fɜːrn/,[1][2] US: /fn/) is […]
would have to be changed into the following:
A föhn or foehn (UK [fɜːn],[1][2] US: /fn/) is […]
This different treatment of British “dialect” and American English makes it look as if we had a bias towards American English. --mach 🙈🙉🙊 17:27, 9 August 2018 (UTC)
How so? Still lists British first, so if anything the opposite is the case. I favor using a specific, single symbol, and not implying the requirement of an r in there, which many people do not use (either because they know it doesn't belong there, or because they use a non-rhotic dialect where such a poor approximation of the German sound would never arise). It's not our job to account in detail for r-inserting and/or r-dropping dialects. We've been over this many times before, e.g. for cases where words (native English ones) properly have an r but some dialects drop it. In short, WP just does not care that the Stone Roses sing "the Messiarrr is my sistahhh". People from a r-reversing dialect already naturally compensate in their mind's ear. It's just not encyclopedically important to make a big deal out of the fact that "the lawr is the lawr" in some places (except in one place: an article on pronunciation differences in English regional dialects).  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  12:51, 12 August 2018 (UTC)
I think mach is pointing to the use of brackets for the British and slashes for the American. This can make it seem as though the latter is more important because it's phonemic while the former is exotic or local. — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 15:19, 12 August 2018 (UTC)
@SMcCandlish: Since you're here, would you mind answering my question? Thanks. Nardog (talk) 16:01, 12 August 2018 (UTC)
@Nardog: Returning from a long wiki-break, and I've kind of lost the thread a bit. I agree with you that the chart page you criticized in some detail has shifted far from its original intent and become less useful, but I'm not sure what effect that should/would/could have this particular narrow matter. I re-read my 12:51, 12 August 2018 take on it, and I don't feel it shifting. But I may be missing something you were trying to convey.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  16:51, 8 November 2018 (UTC)
Thanks @Aeusoes1: that is exactly my point. And even if one may argue that brackets are equivalent to slashes and there is no discrimination either way, I am certain that this different treatment will be corrected sooner or later by some perspicacious editor who will reinstate UK: /fɜːrn/. --mach 🙈🙉🙊 06:04, 13 August 2018 (UTC)
I still think we should try using (UK [fɜːn]), and explain to any possible "perspicacious editor" that they have missed the point. An alternative would be to refer users to Wikitionary for the pronunciation, where they don't have this insistence on the restrictive IPAc-en. Dbfirs 06:32, 13 August 2018 (UTC)

I assume one of the UK pronunciation variants of Malmö should also be transcribed as /ˈmælmɜː/, rather than /ˈmælmɜːr/? Kbb2 (ex. Mr KEBAB) (talk) 10:47, 1 September 2018 (UTC)

Yes, it's not like Nils Malmer. Dbfirs 11:29, 1 September 2018 (UTC)

Uh... so who has to the power to make these changes? It's been months. Wolfdog (talk) 16:08, 8 October 2018 (UTC)

Ah right, the result of the RfC has not been implemented yet. The best way to proceed is to lay out the exact change on Template:IPAc-en/sandbox and then submit an edit request by using the button on View source for Template:IPAc-en, again carefully explaining the exact change to be made, and of course linking to the RfC. I could maybe do it in a couple of days. --mach 🙈🙉🙊 19:33, 8 October 2018 (UTC)
I do have the power, but I wanted to make sure those who were in favor of the proposal in the RfC acknowledged Kwami's point and the outcome of the RfC still stood because in no way do I want to abuse my privilege (frankly I'm disappointed in the low turnout to the pings I sent in August). For the moment I'll back off and leave it to you about submitting an edit request so that an uninvolved editor can review it. Nardog (talk) 22:20, 8 October 2018 (UTC)
Ha, OK. Well, even I'm sick of continuing to see things like /fɜːr/ and /ˈmɜːrbiəs/ as transcriptions for pho and Möbius. My West Country-allied eyes and ears bristle. Wolfdog (talk) 20:47, 9 October 2018 (UTC)
@J. 'mach' wust: So are you going to? Nardog (talk) 10:43, 5 November 2018 (UTC)

Applying the diaphonemic principle to local pronunciations[edit]

These edits by Kbb2 got me thinking: Should we apply the diaphonemic principle to pronunciations labeled as "local" too?

If Bury is pronounced as [ˈbʊri] in Bury, it doesn't help much to say the alternative local pronunciation is /ˈbʌri/ when the fact that the dialect spoken there lacks the foot–strut split is not immediately available in the lead (which it shouldn't), does it? Writing "locally also /ˈbʊri/" allows those who have the split to identify the pronunciation it refers to upon hearing it and to imitate it, which "/ˈbʌri/" doesn't.

I know some people might be going to say {{IPAc-en}} shouldn't be used for local pronunciations in the first place, but I think in these cases it's better than any alternative MOS:PRON recommends. {{IPA-endia}} doesn't work because the chart it links to doesn't cover local dialects. {{IPA-all}} would falsely say that [r] is a trill. Linking the notation to Brummie dialect or Manchester dialect ad hoc wouldn't help either because those articles don't define the value of each phoneme. Whenever the purpose of a notation is to illustrate a difference that can be explained using our diaphonemes, both using {{IPAc-en}} and not applying the diaphonemic principle despite it seem reasonable to me. Nardog (talk) 08:07, 9 August 2018 (UTC)

@Nardog: I wouldn't use IPAc-en for local pronunciations like this one. It guarantees inconsistencies - think of non-rhotic dialects, dialects with a separate FORCE vowel, Canadian raising which may be analyzed as phonemic, etc. Let's just use the IPA-all template and write [ˈbʊri]. Help:IPA explains that ⟨r⟩ can be used for [ɹ], as does the Handbook of the IPA. Kbb2 (ex. Mr KEBAB) (talk) 08:18, 9 August 2018 (UTC)
I'm specifically talking about differences that can be explained using our diaphonemes. I'm not saying ⟨r⟩ would be wrong in a transcription enclosed in brackets. I'm saying using {{IPA-all}} (or something like it) loses the information about the value of each sound readers could gain by clicking or hovering on the notation if {{IPAc-en}} were used. Nardog (talk) 08:39, 9 August 2018 (UTC)
@Nardog: I suppose you have a point. The acoustic distance between [ʊ] and [ʌ] (or [ɐ]) is huge and is much larger than, say, the distance between RP /ɒ/ and GA /ɔː/ in speakers that don't have the cot-caught merger. Kbb2 (ex. Mr KEBAB) (talk) 08:47, 9 August 2018 (UTC)
Also, what's the point of a notation of a local pronunciation that can be reproduced only by the locals? Nardog (talk) 08:51, 9 August 2018 (UTC)
@Nardog: Are you just thinking out loud or did you change your mind? Because I'm not sure what you mean. Kbb2 (ex. Mr KEBAB) (talk) 08:54, 9 August 2018 (UTC)
I'm making another point that I believe supports my position. Only those who do not have the foot–strut split will pronounce /ˈbʌri/ as [ˈbʊri]. Doesn't that kind of defeat the purpose of having a local pronunciation in the first place? Those who have the split will not register [ˈbʊri] as /ˈbʌri/ upon hearing it, nor will they think they have to say [ˈbʊri] if they want to mimic the local pronunciation upon seeing "/ˈbʌri/". Nardog (talk) 09:05, 9 August 2018 (UTC)
@Nardog: I agree, except for the very last point. I think that, at least in Britain, it's common knowledge that Northern English dialects lack the foot-strut split and that the quality of the merged vowel is generally more like /ʊ/ than /ʌ/. Kbb2 (ex. Mr KEBAB) (talk) 09:29, 9 August 2018 (UTC)
My first and third impression (ha... I'm going back and forth on this a lot) is to agree with you, tentatively. So the real question is can we can up with any counterexamples? Wolfdog (talk) 12:50, 9 August 2018 (UTC)
@Wolfdog: Counterexamples to what? And who do you mean by "you"? Nardog (talk) 12:59, 9 August 2018 (UTC)
OK, sorry... you, Nardog. I'm saying we would have to think of counterexamples, meaning examples of articles/pronunciations where the diaphonemic system would not be the best-case scenario. Couldn't there be some feasible reason of interest for providing in rare cases a phonetic transcription (beyond the diaphonemic) of a name? Wolfdog (talk) 13:09, 9 August 2018 (UTC)
You mean cases like Kenya, Baltimore, Ska, and Baltimore, County Cork (whether these are appropriate or not)? I'm not talking about those. Again, I'm specifically talking about differences that can be explained using our diaphonemes. Whenever a transcription is intended to illustrate a subphonemic difference, the use of {{IPA-all}} is totally fine by me, as MOS:PRON recommends. Nardog (talk) 13:32, 9 August 2018 (UTC)
Using the diaphonemic system to indicate "local" pronunciations is fine for cases where the local pronunciation marks a difference in diaphonemic incidence (that is, they use one diaphoneme instead of another) and as long as we use {{IPAc-en}}, which is visually distinct (with its dotted underline and slashes) from those "local" pronunciations that use phonetic brackets and as long as we put actual diaphonemic transcriptions consistent with the guide.
It wouldn't make sense in cases where the "local" pronunciation uses the same diaphonemes but with different realizations. This includes when there are different phonemes in this "local" pronunciation because of a lack of phonemic contrast. Adding a "local" pronunciation for Northern English dialects that don't distinguish between /ʌ/ and /ʊ/ would be redundant because NE readers are already tasked with reading /ʌ/ as /ʊ/ anyway. This principle is how we can avoid people putting a "local" pronunciation that is just a non-rhotic version of the diaphonemic transcription. Non-rhotic speakers are tasked with reading /ɜːr/ as /ɜː/ and /ər/ as /ə/ already, so an additional transcript that just differs on the presence of r would be unnecessarily repetetive. — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 16:21, 9 August 2018 (UTC)
@Aeusoes1: So what would you do with Bury? The RP pronunciation has /ɛ/ instead of /ʌ/, so maybe you could argue that the pronunciation with /ʊ/ is the underlying one (it's certainly older in all STRUT words, for obvious reasons). Kbb2 (ex. Mr KEBAB) (talk) 22:24, 9 August 2018 (UTC)
This is where dictionaries can help us out. If we can't sufficiently glean a diaphonemic transcription from what sources give, then we'd want to avoid giving a diaphonemic transcription. — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 04:45, 10 August 2018 (UTC)

/r/ replacement with /ɹ/[edit]

I'd like some kind of discussion revolving around the topic of /r/ being replaced with /ɹ/. My fuller personal thoughts on this issue can be found here. In that time I brought it up, only one person ever responded to me. So! I annoyingly bring it up again. Thoughts, please. Wolfdog (talk) 16:54, 1 October 2018 (UTC)

There is a chain of these sorts of discussions, which I'm sure you recognize, so bringing it up without responding to points made in previous discussions can make it seem tiresome.
You say Foreign readers (and editors, it seems) can be easily confused by this sound and symbol, but I don't see that being the case just because ⟨r⟩ would be more phonetically precise in their native language. Periodically, people challenge our use of a less phonetically precise rhotic symbol, but this is irrespective of their native language and says more about their expectations of phonetic accuracy than any actual confusion with our transcriptions. I've seen no evidence that any reader or editor, foreign or otherwise, has looked at our transcriptions and legitimately believed that English has a trill or tap rhotic instead of an approximant one. As a thought experiment, it doesn't pan out either, because foreign readers and editors with sufficient competence in English to read and edit the English Wikipedia and who know the difference between an approximant and trill/tap rhotic, will already understand the nature of the English rhotic. No one who reads our transcriptions will come away thinking that English has a trill rhotic.
You say, Better to use a symbol representing or approximating a majority of English dialects rather than a symbol that represents perhaps not even a single native dialect. However, that's a line of reasoning this system rejects. As a transcription system that reflects an attempt at dialect neutrality, picking ⟨ɹ⟩ would mean that we are choosing one dialect (British English) over another one (American English, which uses ⟨ɻ⟩). Using ⟨r⟩ allows us to be dialect neutral without being confusing in our transcriptions.
In addition to dialect neutrality, we are also trying to make sure that this system is as accessible to non-experts without losing meaningful information. It's better to use a symbol that everyone will recognize as a rhotic; if we use ⟨ɻ⟩ or ⟨ɹ⟩, people will stumble and get confused more than if we use ⟨r⟩ because no one is confused about what ⟨r⟩ means for English.
You say The best-sourced argument for retaining /r/ is based firmly in habit or tradition, rather than convenience or accuracy but this is a mischaracterization (and a tautology). Pointing out that ⟨r⟩ is used in scholarship has been in defending against the charge that we are making a "wrong" choice or somehow violating NOR. As the previous thread shows, scholarship is mixed. Our choice to use ⟨r⟩ is based on the practical benefits. It also happens to be grounded in scholarship as well. — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 17:55, 1 October 2018 (UTC)
Yeah, it is quite hard to imagine someone somewhere knows what an alveolar trill is and that [r] in IPA represents it, yet doesn't know how the English rhotic is commonly realized. Nardog (talk) 19:46, 1 October 2018 (UTC)
I indirectly addressed your suggestion when I made the FAQ, which summarizes previous arguments against it as well as my position. Also see this post by Wells, which makes similar arguments.
IMHO, any argument that a symbol chosen in a phonemic notation is inappropriate on the grounds that the sound the symbol represents is not the realization of the phoneme comes from an inadequate understanding of the whole point of a phonemic notation and IPA in general. As the Second IPA Principle lays out, every IPA symbol represents not (necessarily) a particular sound but an intersection of phonological categories. In phonemic representation, you may go even further. As Roberts (2017) says, phonemes are not sounds. As such, we could in fact choose to write /l/ and /p/ as /3/ and /4/, or /@/ and /#/, or /Mary/ and /Dick/.
[ˈbɛɾi] being a realization of Betty in some accent and of berry in another is a non-issue because that just means that [ɾ] is an allophone of /t/ in the former and of /r/ in the latter, so we can just transcribe them accordingly, as /ˈbɛti/ and /ˈbɛri/. And even if some accent neutralized intervocalic /t/ and /r/ and realized both words as [ˈbɛɾi], that wouldn't be any different from the situation we have with sought vs. sort etc.
As in many languages, the English rhotic varies quite a lot. Even ⟨ɹ⟩ or ⟨ɻ⟩ wouldn't be a precise phonetic representation for RP or GA because what is usually described as postalveolar approximant is realized with various tongue shapes, from retroflex to pre-velar ([1]; unlike what Aeusoes1 suggests, both apical and dorsal variants are found in both the UK and US: [2]). I would be even in favor of switching ⟨ʁ⟩ in our IPA for French and Standard German to ⟨r⟩ because the rhotics in both languages vary across speakers in both place and manner. Nardog (talk) 19:46, 1 October 2018 (UTC)
@Aeusoes1: I appreciate the conversation, and I don't feel I've avoided points made in previous discussions. I simply disagree with the weight placed on certain points. And I hope me making this all "tiresome" is not as true for you as you let on -- after all, you have put a great deal of work in responding to me now, which I appreciate, and so I hope you actually (secretly) get a bit of kick in educating others, as you rightly should. Anyway, I suppose if someone has enough English competence to read this Wikipedia article, then you're right that they already know that the trill is not the typical realization.
I have to say that you're incorrect on your second point though. ⟨ɹ⟩ is both a common and obviously a phonetically closer (you must agree!) representation of both British and American dialects in the scholarship, largely thanks to the fact that ⟨ɹ⟩ is already a useful catch-all, covering dental, alveolar, and post­alveolar approximants. I also disagree that the retroflex variant is the American norm, and bunched variants are even quite marked, often indicating to American ears a Southern or rural speaker. (Ah, I've now read, at a later time, Nardog's comment on this matter. Thanks for finding those Wells and Haskins sources.)
You say picking ⟨r⟩ allows you to be dialect-neutral, but it's only dialect-neutral in the misguided sense that picking ⟨♣⟩ or any other random shape would be too. I think Nardog alludes to this point with his Roberts (2017) quotation. The problem though is that, as Nardog says, a phoneme is "not (necessarily) a particular sound but an intersection of phonological categories". Aha!... but the cautionary inclusion of the word "necessarily" reveals the reality that phonemes are indeed chosen with the intention to approximate sounds (or, yes, "intersections" of sounds, if you prefer). This is why, in fact, ⟨♣⟩ or ⟨Mary⟩ or ⟨Dick⟩ are never actually used and never will be.
Aeusoes, you're right I engaged in a tautology with my final point; it was poorly worded. My meaning was, as you mentioned, that the scholarship is mixed, and we don't need tradition or habit to be our only guiding light.
Nardog, I appreciate your Betty/berry argument and have put that to rest in my mind. However, again, I disagree with the idea that just because "the English rhotic varies quite a lot" means there is not a better or worse way to represent English phonetically. I can't buy that. Just in terms of the phonetic part of my argument, ⟨ɹ⟩ certainly is a better (i.e. more closely-approximating) symbol for the majority of English dialects than ⟨r⟩; that's simply not disputable. Thanks to both of you for your thoughts. I can see a lot of effort went into them. Wolfdog (talk) 21:49, 1 October 2018 (UTC)
I added "(necessarily)" because an IPA symbol may represent "a set of phonetic categories" even in a phonetic transcription. In phonemic transcriptions, it of course never represents a sound—always an "intersection". Nardog (talk) 22:00, 1 October 2018 (UTC)
This strikes me as a case of WP:DONTFIXIT. Is there any practical harm—or even theoretical incompatibility—to using ⟨r⟩ instead of ⟨ɹ⟩? AFAIK there is no dictionary aimed at the general public that uses ⟨ɹ⟩, and since dictionaries are about the only places where laypeople may encounter IPA transcriptions, it is using ⟨ɹ⟩ that could possibly be confusing to readers if anything. On theoretical grounds, the use of ⟨r⟩ is totally sound within IPA's principles as detailed in the Handbook; and like you say, ⟨r⟩ is used in not just lexicography but other fields of scholarship, so it can't possibly count as OR. The IPAc-en transcriptions are in slashes, so even those who know what ⟨r⟩ represents in literal IPA will not mistake it as representing a trill. (Unless they don't know what slashes are for despite knowing what [r] is...? If so I'm sorry but that's on them.) I just cannot see what harm using ⟨r⟩ does or what benefit replacing it with ⟨ɹ⟩ brings. Nardog (talk) 22:48, 1 October 2018 (UTC)
I should clarify that my "tiresome" comment was more an explanation for why there wasn't a strong community response beforehand. I do indeed enjoy discussing these sorts of things.
My perception of the distribution of the various diaphones of English /r/ might be mistaken in fact, though that would take some teasing out of dialectological data that I don't have access to. However, I have seen plenty of sources (e.g. [3], [4] [p. 187], [5]) that make claim to something like this AME/BrE distinction. If the actual distribution of these diaphones doesn't quite line up to the American-British distinction, that perception (even by experts) is certainly present.
You say that picking a random shape to represent the English rhotic is "misguided" but there's a step missing in your rationale for why we don't pick e.g. ⟨♣⟩: it's confusing. IPA is typically used for phonemes because, as a grouping of sounds, a phoneme has a relationship to phones in our minds that makes picking IPA symbols convenient. Someone, especially a layperson, will have no clue what to make of ⟨♣⟩. Similarly, a reader or editor may have trouble seeing the motivation behind using a random symbol. But there is a logic to ⟨r⟩ that is orthographically convenient to readers and editors that ⟨♣⟩ is missing. ⟨r⟩ is thus dialect neutral and clear to readers. — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 23:43, 1 October 2018 (UTC)
The benefit to [ɹ] is to clearly indicate that the English r is quite different from the usual allophones of the sounds represented on most other IPA help pages by /r/ or [r]. At least the approximant symbol has the right manner of articulation, even if it's not completely precise about the place of articulation (because there's additional stuff going on behind the tip of the tongue). — Eru·tuon 00:47, 2 October 2018 (UTC)
Native English speakers already know the nature of their own rhotic and learners of English reading or contributing to the product would have already learned this as well. Who would benefit from this indication?— Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 05:14, 2 October 2018 (UTC)
Among your "plenty of sources", unfortunately, I cannot gain access to even one, though I believe your good intentions. But I'd be willing to bet these sources discuss the higher likelihood of retroflex "r" in AmE and the more fronted variant of "r" in common in BrE (that seems to be a motivation in even some speakers towards a labiodental "r" that is not simply a speech impediment), and they they do not across-the-board place AmE and BrE outside of the umbrella of the general-phonetic [ɹ], which represents a spectrum of approximant realizations. Just typing british ɹ american or similarly-worded queries reveal supporting evidence on Google Scholar. I strongly believe my own GenAm accent for example uses a postalveolar [ɹ] (certainly more backed than a typical Londoner's [ɹ]), but still not retroflex (with the tongue turned back).
And your point about ⟨♣⟩ being confusing... that is my point. Exactly. And of course /ɹ/ is still lightyears easier than /♣/ in representing an ⟨r⟩ sound; it just looks like a special type of ⟨r⟩, different from the Italian/Spanish/Russian one.
One group that would benefit is English language learners with [r] in their native phonology and/or who have never been exposed to something as in-depth as a course in English phonetics yet who still have a cursory knowledge of IPA. That may sound like a hyper-specific scenario to you, but I can think of several types of people for whom it wouldn't be unusual at all, ranging from musicians to amateur linguists to English-language students of all kinds and at all levels. Wolfdog (talk) 19:22, 3 October 2018 (UTC)
Wikipedia is not a language-learning guide. Our English-language transcriptions are designed for native speakers and people with a working knowledge of English phonology. If our transcriptions also happen to benefit English learners, that's an added bonus, but we should not make decisions that benefit English-language learners at the expense of our target demographic. As you've articulated, the benefit of using ⟨r⟩ would be for a very specific set of ESL readers, but this is such a small group and, again, is peripheral to our transcription goals
With that in mind, for our target demographic, there is an order of confusion for these symbols. The most confusing is ⟨♣⟩, which I think we all agree on. It seems to me that, for our target demographic, ⟨ɻ⟩ and ⟨ɹ⟩ are more confusing than ⟨r⟩. Switching from the least confusing symbol to a more confusing symbol would thus be poorly motivated. — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 20:52, 3 October 2018 (UTC)
Right, so you and I continue to disagree about the confusingness of ⟨ɹ⟩ versus the confusingness of ⟨r⟩. That's OK. (It largely stems from my own bafflement when I first started learning IPA about why a trill was being used to represent the English rhotic, but I admittedly am self-taught in English phonology so I learned about the precise nature of phonemes only gradually and laboriously.) No, Wikipedia is not a language-learning guide, but it is also not a place for presumed experts. Anyway, I appreciate all the discussion. It's been interesting to appreciate some points I didn't before. Wolfdog (talk) 21:31, 3 October 2018 (UTC)
I get where you're coming from, and I agree that our transcriptions should not assume that readers and editors are linguistic experts. This is actually another reason for avoiding ⟨ɹ⟩. A good portion of our readership is completely unfamiliar with the IPA and so they must learn enough IPA to understand our system. Adding ⟨ɹ⟩ to the list of unfamiliar symbols makes learning the IPA harder for these readers. — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 22:14, 3 October 2018 (UTC)
On the other hand, using /r/ requires readers to learn to read the symbol ⟨r⟩ in at least two ways: the more semantically narrow way, as a trill; and the broader way, as some kind of rhotic. I personally care more about this semantic complexity than the number of symbols, but don't know which is more difficult for readers. I guess Wolfdog answered your earlier question directed to me. I recall reading posts somewhere of people confused by the semantic difference between /r/ used to transcribe English and the same symbol used to transcribe other languages, and using /ɹ/ would benefit them. I don't have examples and don't know how many such people are. Probably there are some people whose minds incline them to be more confused by the different meanings of a symbol than other people would be. But I don't feel like pushing this argument because I don't have very much evidence. — Eru·tuon 23:03, 3 October 2018 (UTC)
I've probably seen the same post you have. This "semantic" difference problem sounds a lot like the difference between phonetic and phonemic representation. There is a range between two extremes here: at one extreme, there are linguistic experts who already know the phonetic/phonemic distinction; at the other extreme, there are those so clueless to the distinction that they don't even recognize that there is a semantic difference. Neither of those situated at these two extremes will be confused, but there's a point somewhere between these two extremes where someone gets enough knowledge about phonetics that they might start to understand the semantic difference but not the phonetic/phonemic one. This, IMHO, is the source of confusion with these people and, as I've said already, says more about someone's expectations regarding phonetic accuracy than an understanding of the English language. At no point in the process are they confused about our transcriptions, but rather the choices we've made for our transcription system. — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 23:30, 3 October 2018 (UTC)
In response to Adding ⟨ɹ⟩ to the list of unfamiliar symbols makes learning the IPA harder for these [unfamiliar] readers, well how about the fact that with some symbols even native English speakers themselves must completely re-learn what a symbol is expected to mean? Take ⟨j⟩, which any naÏve English speaker would expect to be the sound at the start of jay, jewel or gist but the IPA uses as the sound at the start of yap, yes, or youth. We don't use ⟨j⟩ to mean the jay consonant just because that would appeal to IPA-unfamiliar native-English readers. We are not trying to invent our own new system that diverges from the IPA and its established representations.
And in terms of there being a range between two extremes here, aren't there a great deal of people who will fall between the two extremes? The symbol ⟨ɹ⟩ will be understood by the people at the most knowledgeable extreme as well as by people who fall in the middle of this spectrum. The only people who will not recognize it, according to your own description, are those at the "clueless" extreme. Yet these people, upon seeing the symbol ⟨ɹ⟩, can just look up what it means (or simply read the rollover box that appears) or even literally type ɹ into their Wikipedia search to glean the symbol's meaning: there's a redirect to the appropriate page. So, that, in my opinion, is why ⟨ɹ⟩ is, in fact, the least confusing symbol for everybody. The symbol ⟨r⟩, meanwhile, can confuse English language learners and people along the vast middle of the spectrum who only recognize it as a trill. Wolfdog (talk) 11:18, 6 October 2018 (UTC)
I'm not sure how your example with ⟨j⟩ goes against what I've said about unfamiliar symbols. I've said that there is a list of such characters that readers and editors not already familiar with IPA will have to learn and you've pointed out one such example. That dynamic of a character used in English orthography with a different meaning in IPA is also true of many of the vowels. Each one of those makes learning the system just a little bit harder, as does a new symbol they have to learn. If we can avoid adding more on the plate of someone learning this transcription system, we'll keep it that much more intuitive and easier to learn. If you're trying to create some sort of parallel between using ⟨j⟩ for [ʒ] [dʒ] and using ⟨r⟩ for English [ɹ], I should remind you that there is a strong tradition of the latter in IPA transcriptions, but not the former. There are also orthographic ambiguities with ⟨j⟩ that would make this letter not ideal. The more we ask someone to look up unfamiliar symbols as you've articulated, the more of a burden the system becomes.
I don't think it would be accurate to assume that this "some point" confused state I've identified would have a wide range between two extremes I've laid out. You don't need to be an actual expert to understand phonemic vs. phonetic transcription and I don't see why there would be a great percentage of people who recognize ⟨r⟩ as a trill, know the contrast between trill and approximant, and not know that the English rhotic is the latter, particularly given the English-many learning guides that use ⟨r⟩ for the English rhotic. IMHO it's likely a fairly narrow range, simply because of the particular set of facts known.
By the way, our sister project Wiktionary uses ⟨ɹ⟩ for English. Does anyone know if they get confused readers with their transcriptions? — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 14:33, 6 October 2018 (UTC)
You again bring up tradition, which is again what I am openly going against. Our diaphonemic Wikipedia IPA already goes against several traditions in other IPA systems. (And a side-note that I was actually using ⟨j⟩ to represent [dʒ] in the above examples.)
You mention "orthographic ambiguities" of ⟨j⟩, yet ⟨j⟩ is still used anyway, right? So I'm missing the point there.
Again, I think the "burdensome" argument doesn't apply when there's a rollover feature we already use, not to mention that ⟨ɹ⟩ certainly still looks like an "r" -- just inverted. It's not bewildering, as the clover symbol would be. Its benefit is it's phonetic approximation to the reality of English dialects, which has been my main argument.
We're both just conjecturing about the range/spectrum argument, so I think we've also run out of discussion there unless someone has something new and enlightening.
Good point, bringing up Wiktionary's usage of ⟨ɹ⟩. Would it benefit us to see if they've had any discussion on that or why they've settled upon that symbol? I suspect, related to what I think Kbb2 has said below, that it's because Wiktionary acts as a dictionary for all kinds of languages, not just English, and so wants to avoid the interpretation of a trill, which is a much more common sound in languages worldwide but is distinctly not the rhotic heard in most English dialects. (And maybe English Wiktionary also has a more global audience, though who knows?... and I tend to doubt it.) Wolfdog (talk) 16:28, 6 October 2018 (UTC)
You said We are not trying to invent our own new system that diverges from the IPA. I took this to mean that using ⟨r⟩ for [ɹ] would be diverging from the IPA. But, because of the aforementioned tradition, it does not actually "diverge from the IPA." We've already agreed that what matters more than tradition is whether it makes sense for our readers and editors, and it seems like you're rehashing the same point that's been thoroughly debunked. If you meant something else by this, I'm at a loss as to what.
The orthographic ambiguities I was talking about refers to what ⟨j⟩ means in English orthography. It could mean /dʒ/ (which is what I meant to type above), as well as /ʒ/. There are also other ways to represent this sound in English orthography. Using ⟨j⟩ for /j/ is not only consistent with IPA practices, but helps clear up those ambiguities by concretely distinguishing between /dʒ/ and /ʒ/ that we would have an awkward time doing if we were to use ⟨j⟩ for /dʒ/. Yes, this is the same sort of challenge that learning ⟨ɹ⟩ would entail, but the payoff for using ⟨ɹ⟩ instead of ⟨r⟩ is less than using ⟨dʒ⟩ instead of ⟨j⟩ for /dʒ/ and, if we can avoid stacking up these challenges, it will be a better experience for readers. I agree that the mouseover feature and visual similarity that ⟨ɹ⟩ has with ⟨r⟩ help mitigate this burden, but that doesn't mean that there's no burden. — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 17:53, 6 October 2018 (UTC)
I guess by "you're rehashing the same point that's been thoroughly debunked" you actually meant to say "you and I continue to disagree, both of us rehashing the same points and yet getting nowhere". It would be friendlier to have worded it as such. Again, you're bringing up points ("rehashings") that are simply based on feelings and personal preferences, as have I, because neither of us has any data to support this "burdensome/challenge" argument, which for now remains a completely subjective one. We need to hear from other users or make new points. Wolfdog (talk) 16:44, 7 October 2018 (UTC)
Hmm, I had thought the notion that ⟨r⟩ is not used in IPA transcriptions for the English rhotic to be quite thoroughly debunked, what with the scores of prominent examples spanning the better part of a century. This point has been so firmly addressed, that someone continuing to argue, without evidence or extrapolation, that using ⟨r⟩ for the English rhotic is not IPA would be delving into WP:IDIDNTHEARTHAT territory. Talking out of both sides of one's mouth by claiming that using ⟨r⟩ for the English rhotic is not IPA while also acknowledging that there is a firmly established transcription convention of doing this very thing would be delving into WP:GASLIGHTING territory. Stonewalling and gaslighting would certainly prevent conversation from advancing further, but acting as though this is something "both of us" are doing or that I'm being unfriendly by implying that the one stonewalling and gaslighting is acting poorly (itself a form of gaslighting) does more to unseat the thread than actually work to shake me from my position. If stonewalling, gaslighting, and tone policing is your go-to method of discussion, I'm not interested. — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 18:20, 8 October 2018 (UTC)
I read Wolfdog's "inventing a new system" as talking about using ⟨j⟩ for ⟨d͡ʒ⟩. I certainly think he knows that ⟨r⟩ is used in IPA transcriptions of English. — Eru·tuon 19:22, 8 October 2018 (UTC)
At this point, I find that an extremely unlikely reading of what he meant. — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 21:12, 8 October 2018 (UTC)
Huh?? No, tone-policing is obviously not my go-to method for discussing. I'm thinking I misinterpreted the exact thing that has been "debunked", so I apologize if that's the case. But in fairness to me, what ever made you think I've been arguing in favor of "the notion that ⟨r⟩ is not used in IPA transcriptions for the English rhotic"? Of course I know <r> has been used in English IPA transcriptions for nearly a century. I'm trying to find where you think I've said anything to the contrary. Wolfdog (talk) 20:11, 9 October 2018 (UTC)
Ah, OK. I see now I've worded that one sentence terribly: "We are not trying to invent our own new system that diverges from the IPA and its established representations". Right, of course that is confusing because we are currently using established representations in employing the symbol <r>. I acknowledge that was an idiotic way to word it. I should have said something like "IPA phonetics" (in which [r] is firmly established as a trill) but clearly we're talking about "phonemics" here anyway. So then: strike that sentence! Wolfdog (talk) 20:27, 9 October 2018 (UTC)
@Aeusoes1: I think I'm also guilty of what you're describing. Sorry. Kbb2 (ex. Mr KEBAB) (talk) 01:41, 9 October 2018 (UTC)

───────────────────────── It seems as though there's been some misunderstandings here. To rehash what this particular line of discussion has gone through, I had said that adding ⟨ɹ⟩ to the list of symbols unfamiliar to the IPA illiterate makes the English IPA transcription system harder for said "unfamiliar readers" to learn. Wolfdog's response was to point out ⟨j⟩ as an example of something these unfamiliar readers have to learn. Since that was in keeping with my point (that there are already things unfamiliar readers have to learn), I pointed out that using ⟨j⟩ for [dʒ] would not be justified, not only because of the intrinsic downsides but also that doing so would not be consistent with IPA practices. Wolfdog's response to this is that the visual similarity ⟨ɹ⟩ has to ⟨r⟩ and the rollover feature eliminate any burden that would come from having to learn this additional symbol, but when I pointed out that this doesn't completely eliminate this burden, I was told that I was basing this on "feelings and personal preferences."

In response to this, I would say that I'm actually basing this on logical deduction. A new symbol, visually similar to a familiar letter or not, still has to be learned. I'm also basing it on the limitations of the rollover feature, particularly that a good portion of readers will not know about this feature in the first place and that nearly half of our readers won't be able to use it since they're reading on their handheld devices. — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 17:48, 10 October 2018 (UTC)

I'm not actually advocating using ⟨j⟩ for [dʒ]; it was just an example of how some representations are inherently unfamiliar to nonexperts. So, we are both in agreement that some symbols are already unfamiliar.
OK. Now, yes, my "response to this is that the visual similarity ⟨ɹ⟩ has to ⟨r⟩ and the rollover feature eliminate any burden" and your response is this doesn't "completely eliminate this burden". True: it doesn't completely. (And, admittedly, I didn't realize about the differences on handheld devices.) So what are we left with? Some grey area for which your preference leans one way ("the burden is too big") and mine leans another ("the burden isn't that big and has other benefits"). From my point of view, the "feelings and personal preferences" of both of us are very much based in logical thought processes. When I say "feelings" and "preferences", I don't mean this as an insult whatsoever; after all, recall that I used this phrasing to refer to both you as well as myself. The phrasing "feelings" and "preferences" does, however, highlight the fact that I don't have any actual hard data to prove that ⟨r⟩ is more burdensome, just as you don't have any actual hard data to prove that ⟨ɹ⟩ is more burdensome. We've both posed points that are logical and intelligent, but still merely our preferences. You're focusing on ⟨r⟩ being easier for the IPA-illiterate in line with the English IPA tradition; I'm focusing on ⟨ɹ⟩ being closer in its representation to the phonetic reality of most English dialects. These different emphases, both of them quite logical, still remain our "personal preferences". Wolfdog (talk) 19:16, 10 October 2018 (UTC)
Isn't tradition (or "recognizability", one may say) precisely the reason we use ⟨ʌ⟩ instead of ⟨ɐ⟩ or ⟨ɜ⟩, for example? Nardog (talk) 18:09, 6 October 2018 (UTC)
@Nardog: [ʌ] sounds much more similar to [ɐ] (or [ɜ]) than [r] does to [ɹ]. r⟩ is, frankly speaking, an awful choice for this sound and to me it borders on misusing the IPA - the phonetic difference is that huge. The principle that says that ⟨r⟩ can be used for any rhotic consonant in a language sounds to me non-21-century. It's an arbitrary decision that has little justification in modern times. Kbb2 (ex. Mr KEBAB) (talk) 01:38, 7 October 2018 (UTC)
I was just about to say the exact same thing as Kbb2. Different dialects' phonetic realizations of /ʌ/ at least fall under the constellation of sounds represented by the open-mid back unrounded vowel [ʌ]. This is not so for /r/, most of whose realizations actually fall under an approximant sound. Anyway, I've said this already. Wolfdog (talk) 16:49, 7 October 2018 (UTC)

Two points: 1. Using ⟨r⟩ in an encyclopaedia that covers the phonology of many diverse languages and not only English might make readers believe that the sound or class of sounds represented by this symbol of the seemingly sophisticated and precise IPA must be similar if not identical whether applied to English, Welsh, Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, Russian, Standard Chinese or Japanese. This is basically a matter of whether laypersons can be expected to fully understand the principles of our (dia-)phonemic transcriptions. 2. One drawback of using ⟨r⟩ is that the pronunciation of those mono- or bilingual English speakers who avoid pronouncing an approximant in Spanish or other foreign loans is difficult to account for. (I am not implying that those speakers have several rhotic consonant phonemes, though this is an interesting question.) Love —LiliCharlie (talk) 05:28, 4 October 2018 (UTC)

@LiliCharlie: Great points, especially the first one. We're not just using IPA for English transcriptions but also for transcriptions of a multitude of other languages. In Spanish, we use ⟨r⟩ exclusively for an alveolar trill which contrasts with a tap /ɾ/, whereas in Italian it can indicate either a trill or a tap (as it can in many other languages - Russian, Polish, etc.). This variation should be considered hard enough to learn. For this reason alone I strongly support the change to /ɹ/. Kbb2 (ex. Mr KEBAB) (talk) 11:22, 4 October 2018 (UTC)

On the top of the talk page we write:

In fact, /r/ is arguably the more traditional IPA notation; not only is it used by most if not all dictionaries, but also in Le Maître Phonétique, the predecessor to the Journal of the IPA, which was written entirely in phonetic transcription, ⟨r⟩ was the norm for the English rhotic.

I'm assuming that most of the English transcriptions were in RP, no? If so, how is this relevant? Before the era of the Journal of the IPA RP /r/ had a wider range of allophones than it does today, as a tap [ɾ] was far more common. This provided a stronger justification for using ⟨r⟩ for the RP rhotic than we have today. Kbb2 (ex. Mr KEBAB) (talk) 11:22, 4 October 2018 (UTC)

Just for the record: I think /r/ is the better choice because that is what most dictionaries use, including the important pronunciation dictionaries. These are the best possible sources that can be used for pronunciations in the article space. Departing from them makes providing sources harder. (The bigger /r/-related problem I see with our transcription system is that it is not suitable for non-rhotic pronunciations – and yes I know about our “diaphonemic” approach, but that approach is unique to Wikipedia.) --mach 🙈🙉🙊 19:19, 6 October 2018 (UTC)
@J. 'mach' wust: I'm sorry but that's definitely not how sourcing works on Wikipedia. Kbb2 (ex. Mr KEBAB) (talk) 01:34, 7 October 2018 (UTC)

Transcribe Udoka Azubuike[edit]

Hey so I've posted here before and have gotten help with adding name pronunciations before so I'm hoping to get the same help again. I would like someone to add a pronunciation to Udoka Azubuike please. He's a basketball player at the University of Kansas (which I am a fan of). A source for his name pronouncation can be found here on his bio on the basketball team's website and it is accurate because I've heard him in interviews pronounce his name exactly the way it is on that source. Thanks in advance! I appreciate it.--Rockchalk717 00:06, 27 October 2018 (UTC)

Done. Please check that my transcription matches the actual way it's pronounced. I'd never heard the name before. Wolfdog (talk) 01:53, 27 October 2018 (UTC)
Looks right to me! Appreciate it! I'm not suprised you don't know the name. You probably wouldn't know who he is unless you're a big college basketball fan. He's just barely notable enough to have an article. I mainly know who he is because he plays for my favorite college basketball team.--Rockchalk717 07:10, 27 October 2018 (UTC)
  1. Whenever a written source for the pronunciation is available it might be a good idea to mention it in the article.
  2. How about an attempt at template {{IPAc-en}} using the symbols in SAMPA chart for English (ASCII in left column) next time you need to provide the pronunciation of somebody's name? Love —LiliCharlie (talk) 19:27, 27 October 2018 (UTC)