Phonetic Symbol Guide

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The Phonetic Symbol Guide is a book by Geoffrey Pullum and William Ladusaw that explains the histories and uses of symbols used in various phonetic transcription conventions. It was published in 1986, with a second edition in 1996, by the University of Chicago Press. Symbols include letters and diacritics of the International Phonetic Alphabet and Americanist phonetic notation, though not of the Uralic Phonetic Alphabet. The Guide was consulted by the International Phonetic Association when they established names and numerical codes for the International Phonetic Alphabet[1] and was the basis for the characters of the TIPA set of phonetic fonts.

Symbols in Unicode[edit]

Symbols in the 2nd edition are as follows. Entries in brackets do not have Unicode support.

a ȧ ä ɐ ɑ α ɒ ɒ̇ ɒ̈ æ æ̇ æ̈ A 4 [small cap ɐ] Æ [small cap ] ʌ [small cap δ]
b ƀ ь ъ ɓ ʙ β
c ć ȼ č ç ƈ ɕ ʗ 𝼏 C
d đ 𝼥 ɗ ɖ ȸ ʣ ʤ ð δ D
e ë ę ə ɚ ɘ ᴇ̈ E ɛ ɛ̇ ʚ ɜ ɝ ɞ
f ƒ
ɡ ǥ ɠ g ɢ ʛ G ɣ γ [palatal γ] [retroflex γ] ɤ (variant Latin letter small capital Gamma.svg)
h ƕ ħ ɦ [right-tail ɦ] ɧ ɥ ʮ ʯ ʜ H
i ï ı ɨ ɪ ɪ̈ I ι ɿ ʅ
j [hook-top j] ɉ ʝ ǰ ɟ ʄ
k ƙ ʞ 𝼐
l ɫ ƚ ɬ ɭ ɮ (variant Lezh old.svg) ʟ L [reversed ʟ] λ ƛ
m ɱ [h-m ligature] ɯ ɰ M
n ń [left-arm n] π ƞ ñ ɲ ŋ η ɳ ɴ N
o ȯ ö ǫ ƍ σ O ʘ ɵ θ ø (variant ) ɸ œ ɶ 8
ɔ ɔ̇ ɔ̈ [turned ] ω ω̇ ω̈ [turned ω] ɷ ꭥ̇ ꭥ̈ ꭥ̶
p ƥ ƍ (variant) P ρ ƿ þ
q ʠ ȹ
r ɾ ɼ ɽ ɹ ɻ ɺ ʀ R ʁ
s S š ʂ ʃ 𝼋 ƪ ʆ 𝼌
t ŧ 𝼪 ƫ ʈ ƭ ʇ 𝼍 ʦ ʧ
u ü ʉ [half-barred u] ʊ ᴜ̇ [turned ] U
v ʋ
w ◌̫ ʍ
x X χ
y ÿ ʎ ʏ
z ȥ ž ʑ ʐ ƻ ʒ ǯ ƺ ʓ ƹ
ʔ ? 7 ʡ ʖ ƾ 𝼎 ʕ 9 ʢ
ǃ ǀ / ǂ ǁ [double slash] [triple slash] # & *
Chao tone letters: ˩ ˨ ˧ ˦ ˥ etc.
IPA tone diacritics: ◌́ ◌̄ ◌̀ ◌̌ ◌̂ ◌᷉ etc.
◌̄ ˉ ˗ ◌̠ ˍ + ◌̟ ◌̽ ˭
◌̪ ◌̺ ◌̻ ◌̝ ˔ ◌̞ ˕ ◌꭪ ◌꭫
ˈ ˌ ◌̩ ◌̚
↑ ↓ ˂ ˃ ◌͕ [superscript ]
◌̇ . ˑ ◌̣ ◌̈ ◌̤ ː
ʼ ʽ ʻ ,
◌̊ ◌̥ ◌̜ ˒ ◌̹
◌̃ ◌̴ ◌̰ ◌̼
◌́ ˊ ◌̀ ˋ ◌̂ ◌̭ ◌̌ ◌̬
◌̨ ◌̧ ◌̡ ◌˞ ◌̢
◌̆ ◌̑ ◌̯ ◌͡◌ ◌͜◌

Some typewriter substitutions made by overstriking a Latin letter with a virgule require composite encoding in Unicode:

Similarly ⟨ꭥ̶⟩, an unused proposal to replace ꭥ̇.

The left-hook allograph of ⟨ɖ⟩, now U+1DF25

Several of the symbols listed above were adopted in Unicode 14 or 15 and are supported by only a few fonts (such as Gentium) as of 2022:

  • The Beach click letters𝼋⟩ for the palatal clicks and curly-tail 𝼏 𝼍 𝼎 𝼌 for the nasal clicks of Khoekhoe. Used by other linguists for e.g. Sandawe. Accepted for Unicode 14 as U+1DF0B and curly-tail U+1DF0C to U+1DF0F.
  • t and d with a horizontal hook to the left, used alongside s, n, l, r by Daniel Jones before ⟨ɖ ɭ ɳ ɽ ʂ ʈ⟩ were adopted by the IPA in 1923. For IPA use they were considered allographs, but had independent use in orthographies for India, and were accepted into Unicode 15 as U+1DF25 to 1DF2A.
  • turned small capital K, ⟨𝼐⟩, suggested in the 1949 Principles of the International Phonetic Association for a generic consonant but never adopted; now ⟨C⟩ is generally used. Accepted as a symbol for a generic click consonant in Unicode 14.

Rare symbols[edit]

The following are not supported by Unicode as of version 15,[2] though all are supported by TIPA (see there for characters that are not clear below):

Some of the symbols are idiosyncratic proposals by well-known scholars that never caught on:

Ef, thorn, and right-tail hooktop h
  • a right-tail hooktop h (fusion of ⟨ɦ⟩ and ⟨ɳ⟩: approx. ɦɳ), found for the velar fricative in the Germanic 'fortis' voiceless spirant series f þ ɦɳ, contrasting with the voiced series ƀ ð ᵹ and the Indo-European 'lenis' spirants ɸ θ χ in Prokosch (1939) A Comparative Germanic Grammar. (See esp. p. 51.) Prokosch describes the symbol as a "modified h, since h is the usual spelling in all Germanic languages" (p. 83), though other authors simply write these sounds f þ h.
  • superscript spacing diacritic ⟨⟩, used to indicate clicks in Smalley (1963)

Several symbols are graphic variants of characters that are supported by Unicode:

  • hooktop j, an Americanist variant of ⟨ʄ⟩ in Smalley (1963) Manual of Articulatory Phonetics. Unlike ⟨ʄ⟩, in the Smalley letter the hook connects to the dot of the jay and so is detached from the body of the letter.
  • p with a tail facing left (ɋ) and reversed o with ogonek (ǫ). The first is an allograph in Doke of ⟨ƍ⟩ (turned delta δ), and the latter a misanalysis by the Guide of the same letter.
  • double virgule ǁ, a close-kerned // or italicized ǁ, is an allograph of ⟨ǁ⟩.
  • triple virgule , a close-kerned /// or italicized ⦀, used in a passing mention of retroflex clicks in the Cole article "Bushman Languages" in the 1966 Encyclopædia Britannica (4: 469). The symbol was removed from later editions. This is an allograph of a triple pipe, for which Unicode recommends using character U+2980 TRIPLE VERTICAL BAR DELIMITER ⟨⦀⟩.

Several symbols were only mentioned in the 1949 Principles of the International Phonetic Association as recent suggestions for further improvement and were never adopted:

The h-m ligature for [m̥]
  • h-m ligature, approx. hm or ɰ (turned ɰ) for [m̥]
  • turned small capital U, U, for a generic vowel; now ⟨V⟩ is generally used

The majority of the non-Unicode symbols were proposed by George Trager to improve the Bloch & Trager system of vowel transcription and other conventions of Americanist notation, but were never adopted:

  • inverted (turned) small capital ᴀ () to replace æ̇; this had been the original IPA letter for what is now ⟨ɤ⟩.
The small-cap A-O ligature for [ɶ]
  • small capital ligature (looks like an A-D ligature) to replace ɒ̈
  • small capital Δ to replace ᴇ̈
  • barred ɔ, (turned ) to replace ɔ̇
  • inverted (turned) ω, ω, to replace ω̇
  • u with a bar on the left leg, u- , to replace
  • gamma with a palatal tail turning left, approx. γ̡, to replace γ̯
  • gamma with a retroflex tail turning right, approx. γ̢, to replace γ̣
The proposed letter for a dental nasal
  • a fusion of + n (n with the arm of ᴛ to the left, approx. n ) for the dental nasal [n̯]. It is similar in shape to U+1DF27 in Unicode 15, though with a flat left arm.
  • a reversed small capital L, ʟ (turned ), for a labial lateral approximant; this is not a distinctive sound and the symbol was never used.


  1. ^ Handbook of the International Phonetic Association, 1999, p. 31, 161.
  2. ^ Updated from Phonetic Symbol Guide at ScriptSource (⟨⟩ was added to Unicode 11 as U+A7B9); additions in U14 and U15 are listed above.