Help talk:IPA for English

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Wrong phonetic symbol for the letter "r"[edit]

The letter "r" appears with the /r/ symbol (Alveolar trill), while it should really be /ɹ/ (Alveolar approximant).-- (talk) 02:32, 25 July 2012 (UTC)

This has been brought up before. using r instead of ɹ is nothing new or unique to transcribing English and is easier for our readers. — Ƶ§œš¹ [ãːɱ ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɪ̃ə̃nlɪ] 02:57, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
Please provide evidence that using /r/ instead of /ɹ/ is easier for the readers. (Fletpedia (talk) 12:28, 21 August 2012 (UTC))
Its a longstanding tradition to use /r/ for English <r> in phonemic transcription. Most learners will always have seen it that way. See for example the OED. −Woodstone (talk) 14:27, 21 August 2012 (UTC)
It's also a fairly logical assumption that readers will have an easier time with our transcriptions if they have to learn/remember one fewer IPA symbol. — Ƶ§œš¹ [ãːɱ ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɪ̃ə̃nlɪ] 15:28, 21 August 2012 (UTC)
OTOH, if a non-native English speaker sees /ˈbɛri/ they might think about a pronunciation that a native speaker would understand as Betty rather than berry, whereas on seeing /ˈbeɹi/, if they don't know what /ɹ/ is, they'd at least realize they have to look it up. (But I don't think this is a good-enough reason to depart from what pretty much all dictionaries do.) — A. di M.  19:26, 21 August 2012 (UTC)
I know I'm a little late for the discussion here, but — A. di M. is right; although I knew it couldn't be an [r] (alveolar trill), I thought it was kind of strange and got a bit confused. It is simply incorrect. If you're worried about different accents, don't be. There are many words that can be pronounced in at least 2 or 3 quite different ways, all of them right. You got to choose one, not define your own phonetic alphabet and say "well, 'r' will mean [r], [ɹ] or [ɻ]". I just think it should be changed, and against myself I speak (as my accent sounds kind of american) when I say it should be the [ɹ]. It is better to be right in one way than wrong in all. JMCF125 (discussioncontribs) 17:55, 17 May 2013 (UTC)
Here is John C. Wells discussing the use of /r/ for the English r-sound. Angr (talk) 21:45, 10 September 2012 (UTC)
I second this motion. Using the Alveolar trill /r/ symbol incorrectly rather than the correct Alveolar approximant /ɹ/ is laziness. This is valid for the retroflex approximant as well e.g. red [ɻʷɛd]. Based on what I have read above this, the presumption is that /r/ is conventional. There is hardly grounds to consider anything conventional at this point considering that the last IPA convention, which brought us another regular update to the system, was in 2005. Also, dubious symbols make Wikipedia less reliable as a source. The purpose of IPA is to be **international** and not subject to any specific language/cultural conventions. In effect, those in favor of using /r/ where no trill is in opposition to the IPA as a universal system for describing phonemes. Agentxp22 (talk) 11:35, 16 April 2013 (UTC)
Between slashes, there are a whole host of inaccuracies if phonemes are supposed to be accurate representations of phonetic realizations. But in your very post you've accessed an important point that speaks to using r that doesn't rest on laziness or convention; which is more correct, ɻ or ɹ? Both are English pronunciations, but they're partially dialect-dependent. r, in addition to being the most common symbol used for the English rhotic in linguistic literature, is also neutral to either of these pronunciations. — Ƶ§œš¹ [ãːɱ ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɪ̃ə̃nlɪ] 14:03, 16 April 2013 (UTC)
This sentence, *But in your very post you've accessed an important point that speaks to using r that doesn't rest on laziness or convention; which is more correct, ɻ or ɹ?*, does not make sense. By *rhotic* I assume you mean rhetoric? Unless I misunderstood your comment, you have made the same moot point (r is the most common symbol in traditional English textbooks and also is neutral) which I have just criticized. Whether or not to use ɻ or ɹ should indeed be disputed (although there are some standards for where to use them as well). My issue here is that this is a separate argument from [r] versus [ɻ]/[ɹ]. It should not even be an issue. Away with [r] because it is completely inaccurate for American and English speakers and lets move the issue to [ɻ]/[ɹ] in American English. Agentxp22 (talk) 11:55, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
Rhotic is a catchall term for r-like sounds. I'm not talking about rhetoric (that sentence certainly would not have made sense if I did). It is apparent from your comments above that you are new to phonology, so let me explain something that you are likely unaware of: in phonology (and, of course, phonetics), phonetic transcriptions are placed between [brackets] while phonemic transcriptions are placed between /slashes/. Usually, phonemes are transcribed with the IPA letter that represents one of its allophones. For example, English /t/ has a host of allophones depending on context [tʰ ˀt ʔ ɾ... t]. The IPA letter used may be one of the more common, basic, or neutral allophones, though in the case of ⟨t⟩ it is chosen partly out of convention, partly out of typographic concerns, and partly due to orthography. However, this is not a hard and fast rule of phonemic transcriptions. A linguist could, if she so chose, to use ANY symbol to represent a particular phoneme. Perhaps, instead of /t/, this phoneme is transcribed as /$/ so that cat is transcribed phonemically as /kæ$/ and phonetically as [kʰeəʔt].
More importantly, and you should know this if you've read the explanatory note, this IPA guide is an attempt to represent the pronunciations of multiple dialects, particularly British and American ones. We have to be careful about biasing the transcription one way or the other. If we choose ɹ, then we're leaning more towards British pronunciations and if we choose ɻ we're leaning more towards American pronunciations. r is more neutral, in addition to the "moot" points that you seem to disagree with. So, the long and the short of it is that transcribing the English rhotic as /r/ is not wrong. — Ƶ§œš¹ [ãːɱ ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɪ̃ə̃nlɪ] 14:45, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
No, I am not new to phonetics, although I did not know the term rhotics, because I refer to them as Liquida (or Liquids in English). Anyway, if I were referring to allophones I would NOT have put them in brackets, rather in slashes. For anyone reading this, I specifically chose to use [] in order to provide a phonetic transcription. I wanted to emphasize the differences between languages. Basically the point I am making here is that the differences or worthy of attention and should be noted accordingly with a specific character, not a general character (/r/). I feel like I am repeating myself, so I will stop. Thanks for the tips above, although it came across as patronizing. At least we are definitely on the same wavelength. Your second paragraph is the main issue. In not wanting to favor British or American English, we have chosen to represent the sound with a character that represents a trill, used neither in England, nor in America. That is my gripe. Agentxp22 (talk) 15:31, 1 May 2013 (UTC)
The thing is, this page is "IPA for English". We're just talking about English, we're not comparing it with other languages. If we were, it would make sense to use /ɹ/ since the other language's rhotic ("liquid" is too general as it includes laterals) might well be a trill. But when our context is English only, there's no reason not to use /r/, which (I must emphasize) does not exclusively mean a trill. It means a trill when you're being very precise; it means "whatever R-sound your language has" when you're not being so precise. Every English dictionary I know of that uses the IPA uses /r/; so do such esteemed phoneticians as Peter Ladefoged, John C. Wells, A.C. Gimson, and Daniel Jones in their work when it's clear from context that only English is under discussion. And dictionaries of other languages where alveolar trills are rare or dialectal, like French and German, also use /r/ to represent their r-sounds. There's nothing incorrect about it. Angr (talk) 18:05, 17 May 2013 (UTC)
There is something incorrect about it. Besides being confusing for people of other languages and not standard IPA, it can be mistaken for the alveolar flap (ɾ), which is a rhotic that does exist in american English. And it's not because some dictionaries of some languages take it as correct, that it is correct. JMCF125 (discussioncontribs) 12:36, 18 May 2013 (UTC)
Why is the r symbol here used for things that are not alveolar trills? If someone has studied the IPA, they will know that this is the wrong symbol. If they haven't, then they either won't know what many of the symbols represent, or they will learn an incorrect sound. Secondly, where are r-coloured vowels? I read an article and found a bizarre pronunciation for a word which was only clarified by finding out that Wikipedia doesn't actually adhere to the real IPA, but some weird simplified version.
By the way, someone above mentioned the fact that there isn't a need to use r for a trill in English, well actually there are in fact plenty of dialects of English that have alveolar trills. Why not jut adhere to the real IPA and if someone wonders what the scary upside down r means, they can click on it to find out. (talk) 10:14, 12 January 2014 (UTC)
My problem with using [r] instead of [ɹ] is that it might make IPA transcriptions in other languages less clear. We English speakers already have a tendency to pronounce ⟨r⟩ in other languages as [ɹ], even though most of us probably know how to say [r]. It was not until I began studying phonetics that I learned that the vast majority of European languages use the trill. I think that using [r] for [ɹ] clouds the issue.
(suoı̣ʇnqı̣ɹʇuoɔ · ʞlɐʇ) nɯnuı̣ɥԀ 22:20, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
P.S. I believe that when a more accurate diacritic-free IPA symbol is available, it should be used. I favor using [ɐ] instead of [ʌ].

making the key helpful[edit]

The purpose of this article and IPAc-en's mouseover help is to help, not confuse users by using difficult and rare words. So we need to replace all difficult words with easy ones, such as those used in all printed dictionaries, none of which use words such as "nigh" or "phi". There is absolutely no need to produce a list of minimal pairs. See also this discussion. --Espoo (talk) 14:37, 3 February 2013 (UTC)

And where should already discussed or bold changes be made, or is that a bad idea, considering the wide use of the template? Here, at H:IPA, or IPAc-en? And/or where should these changes be discussed? Some changes were already accepted in this discussion. --Espoo (talk) 15:11, 3 February 2013 (UTC)

That seems like a reasonable proposal. I'm not sure the best place to propose such things; I'd recommend starting it in one and then, if you don't get a sufficient response, put a simple notification in the others. — Ƶ§œš¹ [ãːɱ ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɪ̃ə̃nlɪ] 16:03, 3 February 2013 (UTC)

Correction needed[edit]

The article states in Dialect Variations section:

For most people from England, and for some New Yorkers, the /r/ in /ˈjɔrk/ is not pronounced and may be ignored; for most people from the United States, including some New Yorkers, the /j/ in /njuː/ is not pronounced and may be ignored.

This should be changed to something like:

For most people from England, and for some New Yorkers, the /r/ in /ˈjɔrk/ is pronounced; for most people from the United States, including some New Yorkers, the /j/ in /njuː/ is not pronounced and may be ignored. (talk) 15:39, 19 March 2013 (UTC)

But it isn't true that the /r/ in /ˈjɔrk/ is pronounced for most people from England. Angr (talk) 16:38, 19 March 2013 (UTC)
I think the Scottish IP OP meant "For most people from Scotland ...". Dbfirs 08:48, 27 October 2014 (UTC)

Marginal consonant ʔ[edit]

Can someone with access please restore the Hawai'i example in the "Marginal consonant ʔ" section? This was a really good example of the use of this marginal consonant. Now the IPA guide has only one example of ʔ, so it's not a great guide: anyone who can't figure out what sound is being made in uh-oh won't know what sound is being made.

For reference, thye example, before it was removed, was:

Hawaii /həˈwaɪʔiː/<ref>Most people pronounce the English word Hawaii without the /ʔ/ (glottal stop) that occurs in the Hawaiian word Hawai‘i.</ref> (talk) 01:10, 5 April 2013 (UTC)

How many non-Hawaiian, non-pedantic native English speakers do actually use a glottal stop in there? — A. di M.  08:49, 5 April 2013 (UTC)
I heard Bill Kurtis pronounce it that way, though it sounded like he was pronouncing it /həˈwʌʔiː/. — Ƶ§œš¹ [ãːɱ ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɪ̃ə̃nlɪ] 13:31, 5 April 2013 (UTC)
I pronounce it the same way as Bill Kurtis. It's not a pendantic prounciation because I know that it should be pronounced /hɐˈvɐiʔi/ for full demonstration of one's erudition, I just don't care. I'll note that our Hawaii article also has /həˈwaɪʔiː/ as an acceptable pronunciation, so I'm sure Bill Curtis and I aren't the only ones. I imagine that the pronunciation stems from the glottal stop being the most salient part of the native pronunciation of "Hawai'i". You hear it once, notice it, and "correct" your pronunciation of that one feature from then on out. —Quintucket (talk) 15:48, 28 June 2013 (UTC)

Superscript "marginal" consonants[edit]

Do we really want to use superscript letters to indicate sounds that aren't always pronounced? I'd be in favor of using parentheses instead. — Ƶ§œš¹ [ãːɱ ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɪ̃ə̃nlɪ] 13:31, 24 April 2013 (UTC)

Yeah, I think that would be more intuitive. Superscript letters are used to indicate 2ndary articulation characteristics in the IPA, so there's also potential to confuse. — Lfdder (talk) 13:42, 24 April 2013 (UTC)
Before we even get there, do we really want to open this can of worms? It won't be long at all before we're using it for every nonprevocalic /(r)/, every /(h)w/, every /d(j), n(j), s(j), t(j), (h)(j).../, instances of /n(t)s/ and the like, /(d)ʒ/ in loanwords, and on and on. — ˈzɪzɨvə (talk) 15:49, 27 April 2013 (UTC)
We should limit it to those items that have variable pronunciations unrelated to the regional variation we already deal with in our transcription system. That would exclude all of those except for a handful of instances of /(d)ʒ/. Is there a way to clearly articulate that? — Ƶ§œš¹ [ãːɱ ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɪ̃ə̃nlɪ] 16:14, 27 April 2013 (UTC)
Also, parentheses are probably obvious enough that we can get away without putting this in the key (so that maybe it won't be abused). — Lfdder (talk) 16:20, 27 April 2013 (UTC)
Alternatively, how many sounds actually vary in this way? It's a pretty small list, isn't it? Couldn't we simply add /ts/ to the list of marginal consonants, or possibly a list of non-native sounds (like at the German key), with a note that many speakers use /s/ instead? — ˈzɪzɨvə (talk) 17:00, 27 April 2013 (UTC)
I don't think English /ts/ is ever treated as an affricate so I don't think that's necessary (or even appropriate). — Lfdder (talk) 17:19, 27 April 2013 (UTC)
We do seem to shy away from putting consonant sequences in these guides. — Ƶ§œš¹ [ãːɱ ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɪ̃ə̃nlɪ] 23:57, 27 April 2013 (UTC)

Problem with /oʊ/[edit]

I've seen this come up in almost every instance of the sound /əʊ/ - the way in which I see it written so often (that is /oʊ/) is not at all a common sound in any dialect of English. It's a really widespread thing. Gitgo567 (talk) 07:09, 28 April 2013 (UTC)

/oʊ/ is the usual pronunciation in North American English. We use it here as a pandialectal symbol for the GOAT vowel because the fact that it contains the letter "o" makes it easy to associate with words containing the sound, almost all of which are spelled with the letter "o" too. Angr (talk) 08:06, 28 April 2013 (UTC)
Almost all of the vowel symbols we use, although representing both American and British pronunciations in our transcriptions, more accurately reflect the pronunciation of Received Pronunciation; this is sort of a compromise/balance thing, as having post-vocalic r (a necessity) makes the transcriptions look much more American. The most notable exception is /oʊ/; in addition to the ease of understanding issue that Angr brings up, /oʊ/ is also the most common way of transcribing the GOAT vowel in American English (even though it's not quite accurate). — Ƶ§œš¹ [ãːɱ ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɪ̃ə̃nlɪ] 13:37, 28 April 2013 (UTC)
/oʊ/ is most definitely not the pronunciation of GOAT diphthong in American English - it would more accurately be /. What I don't understand is the whole 'ease of understanding' thing - the IPA is about accuracy not ease of use. 'The purpose of IPA is to provide a standard set of symbols that are used to represent sounds so that the same symbols always represent the sounds, even to people from different language backgrounds.' said this guy who I admit I did just find through Google - nonetheless, he's right. One letter means one sound, even in broad transcription. Gitgo567 (talk) 16:27, 30 April 2013 (UTC)
More accurately be what? Anyway, I'm American and I pronounce it /oʊ/, but I'm from Texas so maybe my pronunciation isn't typical. And that description is far more idealistic than reality. Every use of the IPA requires certain language-specific conventions for interpretation or we'd never get anywhere, and broad transcriptions even more so than narrow ones. The English word house and the German word Haus don't sound identical, but both are correctly transcribed /haʊs/. Or English toot and French toute—they don't sound the same, but they're both /tut/. The IPA is about accuracy, but it isn't always about precision, and /oʊ/ is perfectly accurate, even if it isn't precise for all English speakers (though it certainly is for some of us). Angr (talk) 21:25, 30 April 2013 (UTC)
Oh geez, I messed up - somewhere I went wrong thinking that /o/ represented the 'o' in 'not' in RP and Australian English. Sorry for the trouble! Gitgo567 (talk) 13:42, 1 May 2013 (UTC)

Marginal consonants -- gloss needed[edit]

Could someone add a clarifying note about the precise sense of "marginal" here (and to other such pages), please? It's just about clear from context if one actually knows the phonology of language concerned, but if it's a standard linguistic terms it's one I'm not familiar with, and didn't get much on via googling. (talk) 00:41, 30 April 2013 (UTC)

It just means that they're rare here. — Lfdder (talk) 17:19, 1 May 2013 (UTC)
I thought the precise connotation was that they might not occur in some ideolects at all. (Unless I'm falsely generalising from the examples here, of course.) But either way... I mean, gloss in the page, not the talk! (talk) 02:23, 2 May 2013 (UTC)


In the list of consonants, why does /ŋɡ/ need its own entry? Isn't it just a sequence of consonants, and not an affricate like /t͡ʃ/ or /d͡ʒ/?--Solomonfromfinland (talk) 08:25, 16 May 2013 (UTC)

It's a sequence of two consonants, but I suppose it's listed for the sake of those who might otherwise not notice the difference between the ng in singer and the ng in finger. Angr (talk) 19:29, 16 May 2013 (UTC)

serious–Sirius merger[edit]

In the sections for the vowels /ɪr/ and /ɪər/, it should be mentioned that many speakers, including me, merge them, hence the serious–Sirius merger.--Solomonfromfinland (talk) 08:31, 16 May 2013 (UTC)

Done. (I'm surprised that the Mary-merry merger was mentioned but this one wasn't.) — A. di M.  13:11, 16 May 2013 (UTC)

Ian Ziering[edit]

On earlier versions of the Ian Ziering page, I noticed the IPA key regarding the pronunciation of his first name was parsed as /'ajn/. But when I revisited that same page more recently, it was corrected to the proper /'aɪən/. Therefore, /'ajn/ is improper use of IPA. WikiPro1981X (talk) 05:43, 20 May 2013 (UTC)


Shouldn't the open central unrounded vowel be included? (talk) 20:18, 1 July 2013 (UTC)

I don't think enough dictionaries distinguish them to make that practicable. 00:05, 3 July 2013 (UTC)

Nitpick with ɡ consonant row[edit]

I though it was weird that this is the only row in the key to give a plaintext variant of the character and then a footnote saying "if these two don't match, you need help with your IPA font rendering". Wouldn't it be better if this plaintext equivalent and footnote was removed and replaced with Template:SpecialChars, like many articles do when using special characters, such as the IPA? Just a thought. (The note after the key, discussing various acceptable fonts, might be removable too if the IPA help pages already discuss it.) Rnddim (talk) 20:54, 19 October 2013 (UTC)

We do format it as IPA / as in the IPA article. — kwami (talk) 02:17, 20 October 2013 (UTC)


The prior glosses of loir and coir are entirely unhelpful as no one uses either word: where dormice are distinguished from mice, they're called dormice; coconut fiber is (generally) simply called that. The people who say "coir" say it /ˈkɔɪr/, not /ˈkɔɪər/.

I added a word with this pronunciation people actually speak and use (lawyer: OED's IPA /ˈlɔːjə(r)/ & /ˈlɔɪə(r)/; Wikt unhelpfully pretends that the latter is disyllabic but notes that its precisely homophonic with loir), but have ended up getting reverted twice (presumably thrice soon). The user seems not to know the pronunciation of the word (or that there is an alternative to the strong /j/ pronunciation), but we need something better than what we have. — LlywelynII 08:10, 26 November 2013 (UTC)

Since when do we use Wikt as a source? Follow the OED: Loir has one syllable, lawyer has two. Same diff as hire vs. higher, mare vs. mayor, hour vs. plougher. Yes, loir and coir are uncommon: AFAICT there are no minimal pairs with common words. Perhaps you conflate the pronunciations – many people do – but that doesn't mean they don't exist for other people. — kwami (talk) 08:17, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
That's fine. The guide explains these pronunciations aren't binding across all dialects. It's still a more helpful example.
Since there's nothing on the page about the examples needing to be monosyllabic and there's no consensus to the contrary here, I'm restoring the more helpful "lawyer". It remains the correct sound. — LlywelynII 08:03, 29 November 2013 (UTC)
But it's not the correct sound, so we'll be misinforming our readers. Stop edit warring and reach a consensus. You're confusing your vowels, or at least other people's vowels. If we're going to add disyllables, we'll have an open-ended key. I'm not sure that's something we want, but you at least need consensus for it. — kwami (talk) 08:25, 29 November 2013 (UTC)
It is the correct sound, albeit in two syllables, so there is no misinformation. Neither is there edit warring, aside from your end: there obviously is not a consensus for completely unhelpful middle English variants of "dormouse" but you keep restoring them.
Still, I'll do a RfC and hopefully get past your WP:OWNERSHIP issues (or at least establish an consensus that supports your view). — LlywelynII 05:08, 17 December 2013 (UTC)
Like it says in the intro, Help:IPA transcriptions of English are diaphonemic. Because this is a perceptual distinction some people make, loir is analysed as a triphthong, but lawyer as two syllables. Whether you or anybody pronounces them the same isn't actually relevant. — Lfdder (talk) 15:35, 17 December 2013 (UTC)

I don't feel the issue of how the words 'loir' and 'coir' should be transcribed has been fully resolved yet. The fact that these words are obscure or of low frequency doesn't make the argument irrelevant. Unfortunately, it seems to me that in order to answer the question it is necessary to consider some related issues.

1. We are talking about vowels and diphthongs here, so we are concerned with the table on the r.h. side of the page, headed "Vowels". It is not clear if the objects in IPA symbols are phonemes of English or some more loosely-defined unit. The two l.h. columns correspond more or less to non-rhotic pronunciation such as the RP/BBC of England. However, the list misses out three diphthongs: the /ɪə/ of NEAR, the /eə/ of SQUARE and the /ʊə/ of POOR.
2. Keeping to the "Full vowels" columns, if we want to be able to deal with potential differences between e.g. 'loir' and 'lawyer' the table needs either to list the possible triphthongs /eɪə/ of PLAYER, /aɪə/ of FIRE, /ɔɪə/ of LOYAL, /əʊə/ of LOWER and /aʊə/ of POWER, or to make a statement to the effect that any diphthong ending in /ɪ/ or /ʊ/ may be followed by /ə/, resulting in a triphthong.
3. Whichever of the above is preferred, it is also necessary to state that, at least in the RP/BBC accent, many syllables which are usually transcribed as containing triphthongs may be pronounced, or heard, either as a single syllable or as two syllables. Minimal pairs such as 'loir' (with monosyllabic /lɔɪə/) vs. 'lawyer' (with disyllabic /lɔɪ.ə/), or 'byre' (with monosyllabic /baɪə/) vs. 'buyer' (with disyllabic /baɪ.ə/) can be suggested, though I think it would be very hard to find a speaker who systematically distinguished these pairs.
3 The next step is to look at the two columns on the right, headed by "...followed by R". I find it very difficult to see what this pair of columns actually represents. At first sight it looks as if it is meant to relate to rhotic accents, and on each line it looks as if the phonemic unit is meant to correspond to the non-rhotic one to its left. In the case of short vowels it is hard to see why there is a separate rhotic list. For example, the transcriptions given for 'moral', 'barrow', 'error', 'mirror', 'courier' and 'borough' are exactly the same as they would be for RP/BBC. Phonemically, this list just contains one of the short vowel phonemes followed by the /r/ phoneme. You could just as well have a column for vowels followed by /l/.
4. Now we need to look at those cases where we don't find a straightforward correspondence between non-rhotic V and rhotic V+r, these cases involving mainly diphthongs. If the two r.h. columns are really meant to represent rhotic equivalents of non-rhotic vowels, then we have /aɪər/ apparently corresponding to non-rhotic /aɪ/, /aʊər/ corresponding to non-rhotic /aʊ/ and /ɔɪər/ corresponding to non-rhotic /ɔɪ/. But surely /aɪər/ corresponds to /aɪə/, /aʊər/ corresponds to /aʊə/ and /ɔɪər/ corresponds to /ɔɪə/?
5. There are other questionable implied correspondences: on what grounds does the table pair rhotic /ɛər/ (SQUARE) with non-rhotic /eɪ/ (FACE)? /ɪər/ (NEAR) with /iː/ (FLEECE)? /ɔər/ (FORCE) with /oʊ/ (GOAT)? /ʊər/ (BOOR) with /uː/ (GOOSE)? /jʊər/ (CURE) with /juː/ (CUED)? /ɜr/ (NURSE) with /ʌ/ (STRUT)?
6. To come back to the 'loir'/'lawyer' question, it seems to me that the fundamental problem is that the table doesn't make clear if all the phonological elements in the boxes are necessarily monosyllabic. Note 8 certainly helps with this, but I think users of the table should be told in the main body of text, above the table, that disyllabic pronunciations of diphthongs and triphthongs should make use of the . syllable-division marker.

Finally, I don't want to open another can of worms, but I can't see why in addition to this article there should be another called "Help: IPA conventions for English" which has a very different table of vowels and no explanation of how it corresponds to the one in "Help: IPA for ENglish". Surely these two could be merged, pruned and rationalized? RoachPeter (talk) 10:34, 22 December 2013 (UTC)

AFAIK, there are no triphthongs ending in schwa except ones that correspond to diphthongs followed by /r/ in rhotic accents. The correspondences are fairly straightforward. The reason we don't give a phonemic transcription is that non-rhotic speakers preferred this partially allophonic one.
The other help page covers various popular dictionaries, and it is quite explicit as to how it relates to this one. They shouldn't be merged because they serve two different purposes. — kwami (talk) 11:28, 22 December 2013 (UTC)
But "Help: IPA conventions for English" helpfully contains in the WP column /aɪr/, /aɪ.ər/, /aʊr/ and /aʊ.ər/ which don't appear in "Help: IPA for English" except that /aɪr/ and /aʊr/ appear in parentheses as /aɪr./ and /aʊr./. I'm sorry, but I just don't understand the rationale of WP's way of handling English diphthongs and triphthongs across accents. RoachPeter (talk) 14:27, 22 December 2013 (UTC)
/aɪr/ and /aʊr/ are just /aɪ/ and /aʊ/ plus /r/, and so fit the column. If we started adding combinations of V + /ər/, wouldn't we want to add all of them? There would be at least /eɪ.ər/, /oʊ.ər/, /iː.ər/, /(j)uː.ər/, /ɔː.ər/, maybe /ɑː.ər/. I suppose we could double up the way we do for /ʌr/ - /ɜr/. — kwami (talk) 19:29, 22 December 2013 (UTC)
As for the handling: When we set up this convention, RP speakers objected to writing /aɪr/ and /aʊr/ (and others) phonemically, saying they found it confusing. So instead we write /aɪr/ as aɪər and /aʊr/ as aʊər, the way they do in the OED, but unlike e.g. K&K. That is, when we write ər in the same syllable as a vowel, what we mean is /r/ for rhotic speakers and /ə/ for non-rhotic speakers. — kwami (talk) 19:34, 22 December 2013 (UTC)
I added those distinctions to the table.[1] Are they worth the extra space? We might be able to take out some if they only occur in derived forms are so are unlikely to be encountered, or misunderstood if they are encountered. — kwami (talk) 19:56, 22 December 2013 (UTC)
It's hard to predict what any group of speakers would prefer to use for transcribing English, but this seems much better to me. RoachPeter (talk) 22:25, 22 December 2013 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 24 January 2014[edit] (talk) 16:27, 24 January 2014 (UTC)

Not done: please be more specific about what needs to be changed. -- John of Reading (talk) 16:32, 24 January 2014 (UTC)

Vowel Length[edit]

The template doesn't appear to accommodate /ː/ or /./ to indicate length of vowels. For instance, "|ɑː|" is unsupported, as is "|ɑ|ː|". Shouldn't vowel length be part of our Wikipedia transcriptions? J. D. Crutchfield | Talk 18:42, 12 March 2014 (UTC)

I find that by copying /ɑː/ from the table and pasting it into my text I can put length in the template. Why doesn't typing /ɑː/ work? J. D. Crutchfield | Talk 18:57, 12 March 2014 (UTC)
Can you show us it not working? — Lfdder (talk) 19:01, 12 March 2014 (UTC)
When I try it here, it works: /ˈnɑːˌfʊk/. I don't know why it wouldn't work for me on Norfolk, Virginia. Maybe I was doing something else wrong. At any rate, I got it to work there by pasting, as I said above, so I guess there's no problem. Thanks for responding, and sorry to cause needless concern. J. D. Crutchfield | Talk 19:35, 12 March 2014 (UTC)
Is that how it's pronounced locally? You probably shouldn't use IPAc-en for it 'cause /ɑː/ corresponds to a different diaphoneme. — Lfdder (talk) 19:47, 12 March 2014 (UTC)
That is how it's pronounced, if I'm not getting my IPA wrong. The first vowel sounds more or less like the vowel in General American ball, as if the speaker were saying, "Nollfook", only the /l/ modifies the vowel without actually sounding as /l/ (which is common in Southeastern Am. Eng., even in words that actually are spelt with an /l/, such as Falmouth and Baldwin). The /ɑː/ in father is the closest I know how to come to that in IPA. I'm not knowledgeable about these templates--can you educate me a little? What other template should I use here? Or is there a different IPA symbol that would work in IPAc-en? J. D. Crutchfield | Talk 21:33, 12 March 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I take it you mean the vowel in doll. That's /ɒ/. Your dialect may not distinguish that from /ɑː/. Do you distinguish cot from caught? If not, the best vowel is probably /ɔː/, since that's the vowel when the ar is pronounced, and the vowel you suggested with "NAW". See what you think of my adjustment.

There's {{IPA-endia}} for rendering English dialects, if you're specifically trying to capture Southern English. We might want to link that to International Phonetic Alphabet chart for English dialects; currently it just links to the generic IPA table. — kwami (talk) 18:18, 25 April 2014 (UTC)

Thanks for that help. /ɒ/ is indeed the sound I was trying to represent. I saw your adjustment to "Norfolk" before I read your remarks above, but now I've stuck /ɒ/ into the pronunciation of that place name.
The Tidewater dialect does distinguish between cot and caught. I believe cot is /kat/, but I'm unsure how to write Tidewater caught in IPA, partly because I'm not a native speaker (I grew up there, but my mother tongue is South-Carolinian Piedmontese), and I don't remember how the word is pronounced in the various local accents.
The {{IPA-endia}} template now redirects to {{IPA-all}}, so I haven't ventured to use it. J. D. Crutchfield | Talk 19:28, 26 April 2014 (UTC)
Just to verify, they have the same vowel in father, bra, spa as in bother, cot, doll? — kwami (talk) 00:28, 27 April 2014 (UTC)
I believe I would exclude cot from that list, I think spa has a different vowel from that of father and bra, and I don't think father rhymes with bother; but the harder I try to remember these pronunciations, the less certain I am. I'll have to refresh my memory next time I go home. (Which I realize is prohibited Original Research, but which I hope will be acceptable here on the talk page, at least in the absence of published data.) There is, in any case, quite a variety of accents or sub-dialects within the Tidewater dialect, depending on race, class, age, locality, and perhaps occupation (it's my impression, for example, that watermen speak a distinct sub-dialect). J. D. Crutchfield | Talk 14:51, 28 April 2014 (UTC)
I say that all the vowels are the same except for doll. --Adeptzare3 (talk) 02:49, 27 July 2014 (UTC)
We've accepted this kind of OR before. The problem is not so much accepting your honesty as making sure that we're not miscommunicating. — kwami (talk) 21:46, 28 April 2014 (UTC)

Hints for pronouncing /ə/[edit]

There is a discussion at Template talk:IPAc-en#Mouseover for 'ə' to come up with a better hint for pronouncing /ə/. The current example of "about" isn't ideal because some people may pronounce it with /æ/. Please join the conversation there if you have an opinion. -- Dr Greg  talk  15:49, 25 April 2014 (UTC)

Pronunciation of 'yeah'[edit]

I’m a young speaker of RP. I pronounce the word 'yeah' as [jɛː], which I assume would be [jɛə] or similar for an older RP speaker. In any case, it has the SQUARE vowel in a non-rhotic accent.

I’m a bit mystified about how you’re supposed to represent this pronunciation with the Wikipedia IPA system. Since the SQUARE vowel is rhotic, I don’t see a way to represent it for American speakers that wouldn't imply the presence of an ‘r’ where there is none. Is ‘yeah’ an anomaly in this regard? I can’t think of any other words with this property, but it seems impossible that it’s the only one to have this vowel. DavidPKendal (talk) 13:46, 8 May 2014 (UTC)

Ironic, since it was originally an American expression.
You're right about the rhoticity problem. Another example is er, which in rhotic American English actually is pronounced with an [r]! (The US equivalent is uh.) And then there are German names with ö/oe, such as Goebbels, which some Americans also pronounce with an [r]. That sounds weird, but anything else sounds weird too. But where would you need this? This key is for unified transcription, but yeah doesn't have a common pronunciation: In the US it has the TRAP vowel. If we want to indicate a regional pronunciation, we can always use the UK, US, or 'local' parameters. And [ɛə] can still be understood as [ɛ] plus [ə]. Interjections are often a bit odd – consider shhh!, when English words normally must have a vowel. Or uh-uh, since we don't normally have a glottal stop. In any case, no system is going to be perfect, and where it isn't, we can revert to a more precise verbal explanation. — kwami (talk) 20:12, 8 May 2014 (UTC)
User:Dvortygirl has a diphthong of some kind in her pronunciation of it (US), which I’d tentatively transcribe as [jeæ].
If it is the only word that has this vowel (I’ve asked a few people, we can’t think of any), then perhaps you’re correct that it can just be ignored. But since it’s technically an adverb, not only an interjection, it feels wrong that the transcription system can’t describe it. (Especially since it can describe e.g. ‘loir’, which seems to be about the only word with that vowel, distinct from ‘lawyer’.) DavidPKendal (talk) 10:14, 9 May 2014 (UTC)
Yeah, definitely [jɛə] in northern England. Wiktionary's rhymes has only the obscure word kolea as a rhyme. Dbfirs 08:39, 27 October 2014 (UTC)

Hovertext for (j) hurts my American English brain: where on Earth is the 'yuh' sound in Lucas?[edit]

I came here from legume, which I had thought was pronounced leh-zhoom until I heard lae-goom recently (so I'm not sure what the range of pronunciation is at this point). The problem is that the hovertext for the (j) phoneme currently says "optional 'j' in 'Lucas'". Wat. I assume this sounds like an American English consonant y, but without context I don't know what it means by "'j' in 'Lucas'" or if that changes how it is pronounced in context. Do people pronounce it like Lyooh-kus? Looh-kyus? Does it get inserted or transplanted? I am completely stumped on what this is trying to say.

I also don't know where I'm supposed to ask about this b/c I can't find where the hovertext for IPA help comes from, though I'm tripping balls on Lunesta at the moment so for all I know I might be typing on the back of a goat (a goat's back makes for a bad keyboard but the goat does not seem to mind, probably just a friendly monkey massage pushing boundaries a bit too far but what can I do I'm a goat). This is where I ended up, so hopefully it's the right place. Anything that might provide a clue on how the hovertext for (j) is supposed to enlighten me (or else fix the hovertext) would be greatly appreciated. TricksterWolf (talk) 00:04, 19 June 2014 (UTC)

The definitions are found in {{H:IPA}}. I have modified it to show "optional /j/ in Lucas", thereby indicating that the "j" is not the letter 'j', but the IPA symbol /j/. This is not a perfect solution, but is at least less ambiguous. Perhaps "optional /j/ before 'u' in Lucas" would be better? −Woodstone (talk) 08:52, 19 June 2014 (UTC)
Yes, the "before 'u' in Lucas" is exactly what I needed. It still seems bizarre, though. I don't understand how to say "lyooh-kuhs" without sounding awkward, or why /(j)/ differs from /j/ such that a strange example is needed for the former. I suspect this is a non-English use searching for a comparable but rare example? Are /(j)/ and /j/ two different sounds, or is this happening because the idea is "to show an optional sound we have to find a comparable sound also in a situation where it is optional"? TricksterWolf (talk) 14:16, 19 June 2014 (UTC)
I must say that 'Lucas' is a very unusual example to pick for syllable-initial /lj/. I have never heard this pronunciation in British English, except possibly in a Welsh accent. I would pick something like 'lewd', 'leukemia' or 'Lurex', where /lj/ is the norm. RoachPeter (talk) 14:31, 19 June 2014 (UTC)
I've never heard "Lyucas", but I've heard trained (American) elocutionists say "Syusan" and "Syuperman", so I believe it occurs. I wonder if Alec Guinness had to be told not to say "Lyuke". (I've also heard an Englishman pronounce music as /muːzɪk/!)
Perhaps it would be best to have the /j/ in legume represented by a more familiar example, such as stupid or dew, in which many speakers also drop the /j/? Or instead of an "optional /j/" in unsightly parentheses, why not offer two separate alternative pronunciations, /ˈlɛɡjuːm/ and (for barbarians) /lɛɡˈuːm/? (There is, after all, a shift of stress to the second syllable for those who drop the /j/.) J. D. Crutchfield | Talk 14:45, 19 June 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Legume is usually "LEG-yoom" (like "leg room" but with a "y" as in "yes") or luh-GYOOM. M-W Collegiate, AHD5, and back me on that. By the way, the WP coverage on yod dropping is a good link to provide in this discussion. But the yod in "lute" or "suit" (which general American English drops) is not exactly the same thing as an optional j/y before uː (that is, // versus /juː/). In American English, phenylketonuria can end in either /-tənʊəriə/ or /-tənjʊəriə/, but the former is not "a yod-dropped version of the latter"—it is, in contrast, // instread of /juː/. There may be an etic spectrum that I am dichotomizing there, but emically, they are not "the same thing". Quercus solaris (talk) 18:36, 19 June 2014 (UTC)

Quercus solaris seems to be making a distinction without a difference. Why is /-tənʊəriə/ not a "yod-dropped version" of /-tənjʊəriə/? More to the point, is the distinction between /ˈlɛɡjuːm/ and /lɛɡˈuːm/ a case of yod-dropping, and if not, why not? I would expect people who say, /lɛɡˈuːm/ also to say /duː/ for dew and /tuːn/ for tune: i.e. I would expect /lɛɡˈuːm/ as part of a pattern of yod-dropping, not as merely a free-standing alternative to /ˈlɛɡjuːm/. I would be astonished to find that a speaker who says, e.g., /ˈnjuːtʃrəl/ and /tjuːmər/, also said /lɛɡˈuːm/. Is Quercus solaris arguing otherwise? J. D. Crutchfield | Talk 21:29, 19 June 2014 (UTC)
Oh no, I agree with what you just said ("I would be astonished to find that a speaker who says, e.g., /ˈnjuːtʃrəl/ and /tjuːmər/, also said /lɛɡˈuːm/"), and also with "I would expect people who say, /lɛɡˈuːm/ also to say /duː/ for dew and /tuːn/ for tune". But even as a yod-dropping general-AmE speaker I find /ˈlɛɡm/ and /ˌləˈɡm/ nonstandard (they feel nonstandard). Although I could be wrong that the yod in "lute" or "suit" (when it exists, that is, for people who pronounce them that way) is different from the /-ktənʊəriə/-vs-/-ktənjʊəriə/, nevertheless I could swear as a yod-dropping general-AmE speaker that they "feel" different, and I believe I have evidence that they are not always the same, because even though my accent treats lute and loot both as /lt/ (and similarly with many other examples), it does not treat legume as /ˈlɛɡm/ or /ˌləˈɡm/. Another example: although I have heard various Indian speakers of Indian English as a second language say /ˈmænskrɪpt/, in general American English it's /ˈmænjuːskrɪpt/ (despite that general AmE drops yods in lute and suit). Gen Am-E does not have yod in lute or suit but yet it does have a very deliberate, feels-like-a-consonant-not-a-vowel /j/ before // in certain words, including cute, puny, menu, volume, vacuum, and legume. My own suspicion about /ˈlɛɡm/ and /ˌləˈɡm/ (maybe right, maybe wrong) is that they are spelling pronunciations as opposed to dialectal variants. I could imagine someone who has read "legume" but seldom or never heard it not realizing that it belongs to the cute-puny-menu-volume-vacuum class (juː not uː). Quercus solaris (talk) 00:49, 20 June 2014 (UTC)
Sorry to go on about this (I lack time and probably so do you all), but I just realized that my "not always the same" distinction above has something to with the distinction that the yod dropping coverage makes where it says "... Southern American English preserve the distinction in pairs like loot/lute and do/dew by using a diphthong /ɪu/ in words where RP has /juː/, thus [lut]/[lɪut], [du]/[dɪu], etc" The essence of it is something about a diphthong versus a consonant+vowel. The way I would put it off the top of my head is that there is some underlying reason why yod dropping happens only under certain conditions, and that to a gen AmE speaker, the [ɪ] can evaporate from [dɪu] to yield [du] (pardon the pun), but the [j] cannot evaporate from /ˈlɛɡjuːm/ to yield /ˈlɛɡm/ because that [j] is not "the same thing" as that [ɪ]. This is interesting and I wish I could explain it better, but it's got something to do with that. Quercus solaris (talk) 01:09, 20 June 2014 (UTC)
Here is a very informative set of tables on [uː] vs. [juː]. It says that legume is always /ˈlɛɡjuːm/, but that may reflect RP (I haven't looked into the background of the site). I grew up in Southeastern Virginia and speak a variety of So. Am., so I say /ˈlɛɡjuːm/; but I live in New York City now, where I hear mostly Gen. Am., and I could swear that I most often hear /lɛˈɡuːm/ here.
The passage Quercus solaris quotes,
... Southern American English preserve the distinction in pairs like loot/lute and do/dew by using a diphthong /ɪu/ in words where RP has /juː/, thus [lut]/[lɪut], [du]/[dɪu], etc.
does not accord with my experience of So. Am. I say [dju:], not [dɪu], for dew, and I have never heard anybody say [dɪu] (except perhaps as a contraction of do you).
I have never heard any American, Northern or Southern, say [lju:t] (or [lɪu:t]) for lute or [lju:k] (or [lɪu:k]) for Luke. I have heard American announcers and other trained (or affected) elecutionists say such things as [ˈsjuzʌn], [djuːd], and even [njuːn] (which I consider a plain error), but I know of no American accent in which those pronunciations are common and colloquial.
At any rate, I am at best an informed amateur in this field, and I think any further analysis of the question, if it's to be anything more than an entertaining exchange of subjective anecdotes, will require expert knowledge, so I'm bowing out for now. J. D. Crutchfield | Talk 15:51, 20 June 2014 (UTC)

Proposal for new symbols[edit]

  • /aː/ for the BATH vowel. This was proposed before, and there seemed to be rough consensus in favour of it, but it doesn’t seem it was actually adopted.
  • /ɔ/ (no length mark) for the CLOTH vowel. The idea being that since /i/ is chosen to mean ‘dialectal variation between /iː/ and /ɪ/’, /ɔ/ can be used to mean ‘dialectal variation between /ɔː/ and /ɒ/’. However, /i/ is a weak vowel and doesn’t also occur at the start of a diphthong, so I’m slightly more wary of this one. On balance I think it would be better to adopt it.
  • /u/ (no length mark) for the vowel of situation and bedroom which varies dialectally between /uː/ and /ʊ/, likewise analogous to /i/. It was identified by Wells (if not by someone else before him) and is used in the LPD.

I’d also favour adopting /ɪ̈/ and /ʊ̈/ to replace /ɨ/ and /ʉ/ on the basis that they’re more intuitive. If I was unfamiliar with the IPA (or, more likely, familiar with the IPA but not with the system used on Wikipedia) and had to guess the meanings of /ɨ/ and /ʉ/, I’d guess that they had something to do with /iː/ and /uː/, not with /ɪ/ and /ʊ/. But my notation has the disadvantage of not being used by anyone else, as far as I know. I wish the IPA would adopt /ᵻ/ and /ᵿ/ officially! DavidPKendal (talk) 13:57, 23 June 2014 (UTC)

I'd like to make a few comments on the above. Concerning the /a:/ idea, it's true that this has been suggested in the past, and even used in some textbooks. It wouldn't be disastrous if it was adopted for WP, but I would imagine most WP writers would prefer not to get too far away from contemporary practice, and for British English at least, /ɑː/ is the symbol of choice for BATH. Regarding /ɔ/, I can't see what this would be needed for. It would be perfectly possible to stop using /ɒ/ for DOG and use /ɔ/ instead, but I don't think that produces any advantage. As a diaphonemic symbol covering the possible realization of a phonemic unit as either /ɔː/ or /ɒ/, it would have a different function. But do we need this? In the days when 'off' in old-fashioned RP might be pronounced /ɔːf/ or /ɒf/ it could conceivably have been used to represent both possibilities, and there could be regional accents where this free variation still exists, but otherwise we need both symbols. The reason for having /i/ to represent /ɪ/ and /iː/ is that when a close front unrounded vowel is unstressed the distinction between the two is neutralized; some speakers may pronounce 'happy' as /hæpɪ/, some as /hæpiː/and others as something in between.
/u/ as a diaphonemic symbol covering /uː/ and /ʊ/ in a way analogous to /i/ standing for /iː/ and /ɪ/ is well established and doesn't need to be argued for.
I don't think the IPA would have any view on the matter of /ɪ̈/ and /ʊ̈/ vs. /ɨ/ and /ʉ/. WP is using the latter pair to represent either/or choices (e.g. rose's/Rosa's), but for the IPA these symbols represent one specific vowel quality each. To make the symbols stand for two different possible realizations therefore goes against IPA practice. I can't see what is more "intuitive" about adding umlauts to [ɪ] and [ʊ]. It is hard to see how these symbols with their diacritics could have any phonetic meaning. Finally, I can't see why the IPA would want to adopt /ᵻ/ and /ᵿ/ officially - there would have to be a case made that some vowel qualities exist for which no symbols existed, and that these two would be the most appropriate choice. But what vowels would the symbols /ᵻ/ and /ᵿ/ represent? RoachPeter (talk) 19:30, 23 June 2014 (UTC)
Wikipedia’s transcription doesn’t represent RP. It represents a broad range of accents including but not limited to RP and General American. The RP CLOTH vowel is /ɒ/, whereas GenAm has /ɔː/. The RP BATH vowel is /ɑː/, but the GenAm is /æ/ (as well as many other British accents). Right now the guidance offered to editors for words with these vowels is to transcribe them twice — I’m trying to save that trouble.
/ɪ̈/ and /ʊ̈/ are the near-high central vowels — unrounded and rounded, respectively — and that’s what I’d like the IPA to officially use /ᵻ/ and /ᵿ/ for. [ɪ̈] and [ʊ̈] are actually phonetic realizations of these vowels for some speakers (including me), as are [ɨ] and [ʉ] in others. Full [ɪ] and [ʊ] also occur in careful speech, while in other accents they’re fully reduced to [ə]. That, I believe, is the reason we transcribe them with single symbols — because they are each a single diaphoneme. I merely wish to transcribe them with a symbol that is both (a) officially-recognized (¨ being an official IPA diacritic representing centralization) and (b) more likely, in my estimation, to lead a novice IPA reader to a correct pronunciation. This is not against IPA principles, it’s just using the IPA diaphonemically rather than phonetically, which should be no more controversial than using it phonemically as all dictionaries do. DavidPKendal (talk) 10:59, 24 June 2014 (UTC)
OK, I don't want to argue about the precise phonetic interpretation of the symbols [ɪ̈ ]and [ʊ̈] and [ɨ] and [ʉ] because it would get like the theology of counting angels on a pin-head. The essential point is that the IPA doesn't do diaphonemes, so there is no point in hoping the IPA would in some sense endorse a symbol that has more than one phonetic realization. If people want to use IPA symbols for other purposes that's fine, but this is not what the IPA does. RoachPeter (talk) 14:11, 24 June 2014 (UTC)
This is getting off-topic, but I’m not proposing that. I’m proposing that the IPA should officially recognize the symbols ᵻ and ᵿ with the ‘precise phonetic interpretation’ of a single sound each — those being the near-high central vowels. Precisely where ɪ̈ and ʊ̈ are on this IPA chart. Unfortunately, though the symbols are already in use by the OED (among others) for this exact use, I suspect the IPA would not approve the proposal much like they rejected ᴀ a few years ago. DavidPKendal (talk) 19:01, 24 June 2014 (UTC)
Thanks, I think I can see your point now. I was thrown by the fact that this was argued in the IPA for English context, whereas this issue is really what is, or should be, on the IPA Chart. I was also confused because the WP vowel chart you refer to contains vowels that are not on the official IPA chart. As you rightly point out, OUP have pre-empted the symbols ᵻ and ᵿ for their own purposes. RoachPeter (talk) 07:35, 25 June 2014 (UTC)
While we are on the subject of missing symbols, I was surprised to find /a/ missing. The OED has started using this transcription for the "lad, bad, cat, trap" vowel that it formerly transcribed as /æ/. This change reflects the gradual move away from 1950s RP towards a more open vowel by almost all radio and TV presenters in the UK. I appreciate that this might cause confusion for American readers and those whose native language has an even more open /a/. Dbfirs 12:39, 21 October 2014 (UTC)
There are certainly things in favour of adopting this idea. I would add the fact that the latest edition of the very influential book Gimson's Pronunciation of English, revised by A. Cruttenden, Routledge (2014), has also switched to using the /a/ symbol. I would strongly recommend, though, that if this change were to be adopted for WP, it should be used uniformly throughout all the relevant WP articles to avoid confusion. I think it would take a long time to make all the necessary changes. RoachPeter (talk) 14:44, 22 October 2014 (UTC)
Thanks for the support and the mention of the book — I'll have to read it. Wiktionary, in an informal vote, decided that it was not quite ready to make the change, partly because so many users had grown accustomed to the /æ/ symbol and partly because they didn't want to have separate pronunciations for American and British versions. I think the change will come, and an electronic medium ought to be in the vanguard, but the Wiktionary and Wikipedia community tends to be conservative, and will not be willing to make the switch to /a/ until the majority of published references have done so. At some time in the future, I expect that someone will write a bot to make the changes, but it will need to be supervised carefully, and probably needs to be co-ordinated across Wiki projects. It's certainly too big a task for me, so, until there is a big majority in support, and we organise lots of volunteers to assist, I think I'll just continue to make the mental substitution /æ/ -> /a/ for most British usage (except for the few who still speak 1950s RP). Dbfirs 15:33, 22 October 2014 (UTC)
My native language has both /a/ and /ɑ/ as phonemes. Both RP and US pronunciations of words such as cat are much closer to /æ/ than to either of them. All schoolbooks I have ever seen use /æ/. To me it would be utterly confusing to see /a/ being used instead of /æ/. −Woodstone (talk) 05:25, 23 October 2014 (UTC)
I agree that the American "cat" and the 1950s RP "cat" are both better transcribed as /æ/, but BBC English is gradually moving towards the northern English version of the vowel which has always been closer to your /a/ . Your schoolbooks reflect the older 1950s RP. The sound given in IPA vowel chart with audio is actually the long version /a:/ as in a fronted version of "father". Where can I hear your interpretation of /a/ ? Dbfirs 13:17, 23 October 2014 (UTC)
Since the vowel is definitely not pronounced /a/ in US, and /æ/ is still appropriate for RP, I see no advantage in switching to /a/. Doing so would alienate a large proportion of speakers. −Woodstone (talk) 16:57, 23 October 2014 (UTC)
I appreciate that a good proportion of readers are American, and a few others in the UK still use 1950s RP, so I agree that it's a bit too early to make the change. As I said above, I always make the substitution mentally myself. Wikipedia will have to wait until most other dictionaries catch up with the OED. I wasn't suggesting that we should put /a/ in place of /æ/, just add it as a valid vowel in the English list, because I've been using it all my life. Dbfirs 18:45, 23 October 2014 (UTC)
The list is meant to define a standard pan-dialectic set of phoneme representations. It is not meant to describe differences between dialects. So there should not be alternative choices for representation. Each (dia)phoneme should have a unique representation. −Woodstone (talk) 06:52, 24 October 2014 (UTC)
Yes, I realise that the symbol has to represent a wide variety of sounds, even amongst Americans, where I usually hear a diphthong (variations of /ɛa/instead of a pure /æ/). I accept that we'll stick with the /æ/ representation for simplicity. Dbfirs 08:29, 24 October 2014 (UTC)

Accent mark with IPA transcription of words with only one syllable?[edit]

I did a quick check of the archives and didn't find anything about this: when writing out an IPA for a word with just one syllable, is the emphasis-mark ' still to be used? It looks like it is used on the WP:IPAE article page for such words, but the OED excludes it (presumably as superfluous and unnecessary, which it would seem it is). Perhaps there is no protocol... Should there be one? If none exists, I'd like to propose that Wikipedia follow the OED and deprecate the use of marks of emphasis with single-syllable words. Thoughts, anyone? KDS4444Talk 03:32, 23 July 2014 (UTC)

While I am on the subject, the WP:IPAE page suggests that if there are two pronunciations of the same word, they should both be included and be separated by a comma. However, doing so within the IPAc-en template produces a "secondary emphasis" mark, not a genuine comma. So then how should this be done? (this is despite the fact that the Wikipedia IPA character drop down menu for editors contains a definite and distinct symbol for secondary emphasis which is not a comma-- so somewhere, a comma is getting "translated" by the IPA template to be the equivalent of the secondary emphasis symbol). KDS4444Talk 03:42, 23 July 2014 (UTC)

My accent[edit]

What about observing the difference between the vowels of fAther [fAŕŕürr] and cAr [kÄr] ( pronunciations given using my own system. sorry!) == (talk) 02:42, 27 July 2014 (UTC) What about ʉ in beautiful being an o sound? --Adeptzare3 (talk) 02:57, 27 July 2014 (UTC)

Father and car both use /ä:/ [ä:] where I live (northern England), or /a:/ [a:] in some areas. The OED has /ˈbjuːtᵻf(ᵿ)l/ for the British pronunciation of "beautiful", but I think my pronunciation is closer to /jʉ:/ [jʉ:]. It's difficult to represent every regional variation. Is there a German version of English that we ought to record? Dbfirs 19:36, 23 October 2014 (UTC)
You're mistaking phonemic symbols with phonetic realizations of them. Both [ä:] and [] are regional phonetic realizations of the phoneme /ɑː/. The same applies to [jʉː], which is the predominant UK realization of /juː/. Peter238 (v̥ɪˑzɪʔ mɑˑɪ̯ tˢʰoˑk̚ pʰɛˑɪ̯d̥ʒ̊) 17:47, 27 October 2014 (UTC)
Yes, you are correct. I've corrected my error above. Thanks for the link. I was puzzled by the distinction that Adeptzare3 was trying to make. Dbfirs 01:54, 28 October 2014 (UTC)
No problem, but which link are you referring to? Peter238 (v̥ɪˑzɪʔ mɑˑɪ̯ tˢʰoˑk̚ pʰɛˑɪ̯d̥ʒ̊) 02:44, 28 October 2014 (UTC)
Via your talk page. Do you really talk like that? Dbfirs 07:46, 28 October 2014 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 20 August 2014[edit] (talk) 09:28, 20 August 2014 (UTC)

Red information icon with gradient background.svg Not done: as you have not requested a change.
If you want to suggest a change, please request this in the form "Please replace XXX with YYY" or "Please add ZZZ between PPP and QQQ". - Arjayay (talk) 09:44, 20 August 2014 (UTC)

Remove "ugh" from x[edit]

Could we remove "ugh" from the list of examples for the IPA character x? I have never heard of this word being pronounced this way. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:10, 22 October 2014 (UTC)

I've heard the sound, but I wouldn't write it as "ugh". The note mentions that it is often pronounced differently. Can you think of a better example? Dbfirs 13:31, 23 October 2014 (UTC)
If /x/ is the voiceless, guttural sound in Sc. loch or Ger. ach, as I understand it to be, then I agree that ugh is not an example of it in any dialect of English that I'm aware of. Although I think most people reading ugh aloud would be inclined pronounce it like "ug" (because of the deplorable impulse to "speak as you spell"), I believe ugh is properly—that is to say, historically—an attempt to represent a grunt, "uh", with a highly fricative, perhaps voiced, h (which I don't know how to represent in IPA), which may approach, but doesn't equal, /x/—just one of many valiant efforts to represent in writing the inarticulate sounds we sometimes make, such as yuck (or yuch or yecch), tsk-tsk (or tutt-tutt or tch-tch), whew (or phew), and, my favorite, zzzz (to represent snoring). To my way of thinking, none of these is sufficiently standardized in speech (if it even is properly called speech) to be used as a general example of pronunciation. J. D. Crutchfield | Talk 19:09, 23 October 2014 (UTC)

"Fool" as an example of uː[edit]

Should this have a footnote explaining the fool/full merger, or perhaps remove it as an example word altogether, given the other words (goose, food etc) are good examples? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:20, 27 October 2014 (UTC)

That wouldn't help those with the foot–goose merger. If your local dialect doesn't use uː then it's difficult to explain what it sounds like. Dbfirs 13:45, 29 January 2015 (UTC)

Syllabification - why is it used sparingly?[edit]

Based on one of the footnotes in the current version of this page:

Syllables are indicated sparingly, where necessary to avoid confusion, for example to break up sequences of vowels (moai) or consonant clusters which an English speaker might misread as a digraph (Vancouveria, Windhoek).

It seems that our preference is to not use syllabification. I generally find in most dictionaries that syllabification is present even where it's fairly obvious where to make the syllables. This seems like a good policy to me, since I see no downside to indicating syllables even when it's obvious where they should go, and as it is, users need to make an assumption about what the "intuitive" way to break up a word would be. What is the harm in adding syllabification to all IPA pronunciations? 0x0077BE [talk/contrib] 15:14, 27 October 2014 (UTC)

It can be an area of contention (e.g. is it Cali-fornia or Calif-ornia; blend-er or blen-der, etc.) where, if I recall correctly, even linguists may not all agree on the correct answer. It also doesn't normally add any new information. — Ƶ§œš¹ [ãːɱ ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɪ̃ə̃nlɪ] 19:16, 27 October 2014 (UTC)
It would only add no new information if it's a one-syllable word. It may be information that people already know, but most people already know what a basket is without looking it up in the encyclopedia/dictionary, and we've got an entry for that and a million other mundane things. It seems pointless to avoid using a richer format if it's an area of contention when there are other solutions to that, such as including a section on the pronunciation if it's so contentious that linguists are debating how to represent it or if varies so widely that it can't be covered easily in the lead (see Missouri#Etymology_and_pronunciation). The syllable information is included in most dictionaries that I've seen, so presumably citations for this information is available (and it can be eschewed if no citation is available and there's some contention anyway). 0x0077BE [talk/contrib] 19:28, 27 October 2014 (UTC)
There's also the issue of compression. For instance, according to the Longman Pronunciation Dictionary, the RP pronunciation of raspberry can be either /ˈrɑːz.bər.i/ or /ˈrɑːz.bri/. How would you indicate that without transcribing the word twice? If you don't transcribe syllable breaks, you can simply write /ˈrɑːzb(ə)ri/ Peter238 (v̥ɪˑzɪʔ mɑˑɪ̯ tˢʰoˑk̚ pʰɛˑɪ̯d̥ʒ̊) 19:42, 27 October 2014 (UTC)
How about /ˈrɑːz.b(ə)r(.)i/? Alternatively, we could have a guideline that says that syllabification is optional and can be eschewed in cases where it is too complicated for a simple representation but not complicated enough to merit a separate section. All I'm seeing is edge cases where syllable representations would be difficult, not a reason why they're undesirable in well-cited, straightforward cases. And, again, the standard in modern dictionaries is to include syllables, and they've got much less space to work in than we do. 0x0077BE [talk/contrib] 19:58, 27 October 2014 (UTC)
Your basket example doesn't really hold water. Yes, there is information contained in what you might call narrower transcriptions, but we eschew narrow transcriptions for English pronunciations. This is why we don't encode for aspiration, glottalization, vowel lengthening, etc. Syllabification is normally one of those things that we don't need to mark because readers can get to the intended pronunciation (which is what our transcriptions are intended to convey) without them. — Ƶ§œš¹ [ãːɱ ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɪ̃ə̃nlɪ] 20:27, 27 October 2014 (UTC)
If you had read the article, you'd know that baskets are not intended to store water - they are made of woven materials and are thus porous! But in serious response, I'm still not seeing why adding admittedly marginal but not-confusing information should be done "sparingly" when it is done by all the major dictionaries. People wouldn't know what to do with aspiration and glottalization information, but they can handle syllables. I'll also note that syllabification is marked in the complementary practice of pronunciation respelling on Wikipedia. It seems like it's marked everywhere except Wikipedia's IPA, so I don't see why we need to warn against it. 0x0077BE [talk/contrib] 21:24, 27 October 2014 (UTC)
Good points. It seems that there is a different thinking on the matter between the two camps. Other discussions on syllabification in the archives are here, here, and here. — Ƶ§œš¹ [ãːɱ ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɪ̃ə̃nlɪ] 22:41, 27 October 2014 (UTC)
... "all major dictionaries"? The OED (full edition) does not see the need for separating words into artificial syllables. Dbfirs 01:31, 28 October 2014 (UTC)
I think /ˈrɑːz.b(ə)r(.)i/ wouldn't work, because it doesn't state explicitly that */ˈrɑːz.bəri/ is wrong (Cambridge EPD seems to allow /ˈrɑː though.) Peter238 (v̥ɪˑzɪʔ mɑˑɪ̯ tˢʰoˑk̚ pʰɛˑɪ̯d̥ʒ̊) 23:09, 27 October 2014 (UTC)
There are two issues here, I think. One is about whether to mark syllable boundaries in WP transcriptions (I don’t know the answer to this), and the other is whether to show alternative pronunciations. As well as showing alternative pronunciations of the first syllable, both the CEPD and the Longman pronunciation dictionaries recommend either /bər/ for the second syllable or /br/(syllabic /r/), so /ˈrɑːz.bər.i/ and /rɑːz. br̩.i/ are both supported. I think it would become far too complicated for WP to give all the alternatives for a word. RoachPeter (talk) 08:44, 28 October 2014 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 27 December 2014[edit] (talk) 16:27, 27 December 2014 (UTC)

Red question icon with gradient background.svg Not done: it's not clear what changes you want to be made. Please mention the specific changes in a "change X to Y" format. --I am k6ka Talk to me! See what I have done 16:29, 27 December 2014 (UTC)

mayor/mare—bad example[edit]

Both are pronounced as one syllable in BE, and it's not about triphthong smoothing—cf. e.g. with Layer vs. lair would be a clearer example. (If it weren't for the confusing spelling, also prayer (person) vs. prayer (activity or text) would do). (talk) 20:32, 6 January 2015 (UTC)

Yes, a bad example in British English where the OED records the same pronunciation. Lair and layer would be better. Should we change it? Dbfirs 22:00, 26 January 2015 (UTC)
Since no-one has expressed an opinion either way, I've changed mayor to layer (of eggs) since this is never (as far as I know) pronounced like lair. Dbfirs 12:37, 22 February 2015 (UTC)

/ʍ/ vs. /hw/[edit]

Is there a reason /ʍ/ is /hw/ here? People without the whine-wine merger that I've talked to don't perceive /ʍ/ as two phonemes. Is it just for the convenience of non-whine-wine speakers? Charlotte Aryanne (talk) 18:31, 17 January 2015 (UTC)

The use of /hw/ is not for the convenience of speakers, but for phonologists to keep the analysis tidy and economical. Speakers who have the "voiceless w" in 'which' produce a single sound that is phonetically transcribed [ʍ], but phonologists don't want to add a consonant phoneme to the list of English consonants just on account of a small number of contrasts like 'whine - wine'. So the arbitrary phonemic representation /hw/ is used instead, even though there is no [h] pronounced. There is a similar issue with the sound at the beginning of 'hue', 'huge', which is phonetically [ç] but is treated phonologically as /hj/ despite the absence of a [h] sound in it. In theory (as Davidsen-Neilson once pointed out) you could do something similar for e.g. English /p, t, k/, transcribing them as /hb, hd, hg/, but nobody would accept that. RoachPeter (talk) 20:09, 17 January 2015 (UTC)
It's also less likely for lay readers to mistakenly confuse it with m. — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 23:42, 17 January 2015 (UTC)

loir/lawyer—another bad example[edit]

lawyer can be both ˈlɔːjə and ˈlɔɪə, which can cause confusion. Why not settle for "employer"? (talk) 16:24, 26 January 2015 (UTC)

Doesn't that have the same variance as lawyer? — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 18:34, 26 January 2015 (UTC)
Not according to LPD and CEPD. They state that lawyer can be pronounced with either /ɔːj/ or /ɔɪ/, but employer only with /ɔɪ/. — Peter238 (v̥ɪˑzɪʔ mɑˑɪ̯ tˢʰoˑk̚ pʰɛˑɪ̯d̥ʒ̊) 21:43, 26 January 2015 (UTC)
The OED says the same for British English. Is there any reason not to change the example? Dbfirs 21:51, 26 January 2015 (UTC)
I can't think of any. — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 22:33, 26 January 2015 (UTC)
Thanks. In the absence of any other comment, I've changed it. Dbfirs 12:38, 22 February 2015 (UTC)

Request for Selena article[edit]

The article is (currently being) updated and am requesting someone who can add an IPA on the article Selena since I don't know how to do it. Thanks in advance, .jonatalk 02:57, 3 February 2015 (UTC)

sound files?![edit]

IIRC, this page used to have links to the articles on each symbol. They should be put back. And there should be clickable sound files next to each symbol. --Espoo (talk) 10:20, 5 February 2015 (UTC)

You're thinking of Help:IPA. --SnorlaxMonster 10:51, 6 February 2015 (UTC)
Without them this page does not provide enough help for most non-native speakers. The problem is compounded by many pronunciation examples that are completely unknown to most non-native speakers. The reasons given by some for the unnecessarily difficult examples like dye, thy, nigh, thigh, rye, sigh, vie, wye would only be relevant to an introductory linguistics course that wants to familiarize the students with the concept of minimal pairs. Here we instead need words that are not unknown to most non-native speakers, for example do, the, no, thanks, run, say, van, we. --Espoo (talk) 10:22, 22 February 2015 (UTC)
I agree. This page is intended as a guide to help readers pronounce words using IPA on their pages, not to teach linguistics. This page should aim to use common words with unambiguous pronunciations, and use examples that demonstrate the different common spellings that correspond to the same phoneme. --SnorlaxMonster 10:39, 22 February 2015 (UTC)
We can't have recordings here, because the page says that "this key represents diaphonemes, abstractions of speech sounds that accommodate General American, Received Pronunciation, Canadian English, South African, Australian, and New Zealand pronunciations." In some cases, this means 5 to 10 (or even more) recordings for one sound, and explaining vowel splits and mergers. That's too much. — Peter238 (v̥ɪˑzɪʔ mɑˑɪ̯ tˢʰoˑk̚ pʰɛˑɪ̯d̥ʒ̊) 13:16, 22 February 2015 (UTC)