International Phonetic Association

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International Phonetic Association
IPA: ði ɪntəˈnæʃənəl fəˈnɛtɪk əsoʊsiˈeɪʃn
The IPA logo and phonetic transcription of "The International Phonetic Association".
Abbreviation IPA
Formation 1886
Purpose Scientific study of phonetics
John Esling
Main organ

The International Phonetic Association (IPA; in French, Association phonétique internationale, API) is an organization that promotes the scientific study of phonetics and the various practical applications of that science. The IPA’s major contribution to phonetics is the International Phonetic Alphabet—a notational standard for the phonetic representation of all languages. The acronym IPA is used to refer to both the association and the alphabet.

The IPA also publishes the Journal of the International Phonetic Association. In addition, it arranges for the quadrennial International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS)[2] through its affiliate, the Permanent Council for the Organization of ICPhS.


Development of the Alphabet[edit]

The group’s initial aim was to create a set of phonetic symbols to which different articulations could apply, such that each language would have an alphabet particularly suited to describe the sounds of the language. Eventually it was decided that a universal alphabet, with the same symbol being used for the same sound in different languages was the ideal, and development of the International Phonetic Alphabet progressed rapidly up to the turn of the 20th century. Since then, there have been several sets of changes to the Alphabet, with additions and deletions that the progress of the science of phonetics has indicated.


The IPA also has given examinations in phonetics since 1908, awarding Certificates of Proficiency in the phonetics of English, French, or German.

See also[edit]


Further reading[edit]

  • International Phonetic Association. (1999). Handbook of the International Phonetic Association: A guide to the use of the International Phonetic Alphabet. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

External links[edit]