Talk:International Phonetic Alphabet

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Former good articleInternational Phonetic Alphabet was one of the Language and literature good articles, but it has been removed from the list. There are suggestions below for improving the article to meet the good article criteria. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
Article milestones
DateProcessResult
October 13, 2006Peer reviewReviewed
October 14, 2006Good article nomineeListed
May 27, 2007Good article reassessmentKept
June 10, 2007Featured article candidateNot promoted
June 13, 2009Good article reassessmentKept
August 6, 2009Good article reassessmentKept
July 1, 2019Good article reassessmentDelisted
Current status: Delisted good article

More and less rounded?[edit]

Section Diacritics and prosodic notation has the example ɔ̜ x̜ʷ for "less rounded". I'm confused by that, since the superscript ◌ʷ stands for labialization, which, as the lede for that article clearly states, means that the sound “involve[s] the lips while the remainder of the oral cavity produces another sound. ... When vowels involve the lips, they are called rounded.” Aside from the distinction between vowels and consonants (which can be circumvented with the ◌̩ diacritic), this amounts to a contradiction. Which languages use the example sound, and why has it been selected as an example here? ◄ Sebastian 12:59, 8 April 2019 (UTC)

Update: In investigating the history, I found that our most venerable editor, Kwamikagami, defended this example in 2005 (Denelson83: “I don't know how that errant ʷ got in there”(*) — kwami: “rv: the [ʷ] belongs: "less rounded" than labialized [xʷ] (you can't get any less rounded than plain [x])” (*) ), but in 2015 he removed the diacritic himself (*) and it was Pxhayes who added it back in 2017: (2017). Seeing how even our best editors are repeatedly confused by the example, I'm therefore removing it altogether. ◄ Sebastian 13:49, 8 April 2019 (UTC)

Since x and χ both are no good examples because of what kwami wrote, and since, according to our article Labialization we prefer that term for consonants, I decided to remove all examples using x or χ from the roundedness row. If someone feels we still need a consonant, let's think of a better set of examples which each are actually relevant at least for some language. ◄ Sebastian 14:06, 8 April 2019 (UTC)

I didn't contradict myself with that edit (at least, not that I can see) because I didn't "remove the diacritic". Rather, I moved it from the ⟨x⟩ to the ⟨ʷ⟩. I don't recall whether that was because it's the labialization that's 'less rounded' (if we were accepting VoQS, we could write it ⟨xꟹ⟩), that is, because I thought it was more accurate that way, or whether it was to head off another misunderstanding like Denelson's.
That example, BTW, is from Hupa, which has been described (by Matt Gordon, maybe? I forget -- not in our Hupa article) as having contrasting more- and less-rounded labialized velar fricatives. The point of these illustrations is to show that the rounding diacritics are not restricted to vowels. Regardless of whether we call consonants 'labialized' rather than 'rounded', the articulation is the same.
Anyway, the history is: ⟨x̜ʷ⟩ ('less rounded' under the x), which Denelson changed to ⟨⟩ (removing the ʷ that indicated the rounding that was lessened), which I reverted, and which I later changed to ⟨xʷ̜⟩ (putting the 'less rounded' diacritic under the rounded element, making it clear that the ⟨ʷ⟩ is required), which Pxhayes reverted to the original ⟨x̜ʷ⟩. So, apart from the initial misunderstanding, the debate was about where to place the diacritic, which is essentially an esthetic question.
If you want voiceless prenasalization, say, or bidental aspiration, then you place the diacritics on the superscript modifier letter: ⟨ᵑ̊ǂh, tʰ̪͆⟩. That's because there's a timing difference from the main letter. But since ⟨⟩ indicates that the [x] is simultaneously rounded throughout, rather than having a labialized off-glide, I suspect there's no difference between ⟨x̜ʷ⟩ and ⟨xʷ̜⟩. I was perhaps being overly pedantic in placing the diacritic under the ⟨ʷ⟩, though if an author intended it to be an off-glide (as iconicity would suggest), then they would presumably want the diacritic there. — kwami (talk) 21:59, 8 April 2019 (UTC)
Thank you, kwami, for the detailed and interesting explanation. I didn't even know it was acceptable to modify a diacritic with its own diacritic. But I don't think it overly pedantic even with zero timing difference: For one, in the particular case of roundedness and labialization it prevents them from cancelling each other out. (In other words, if applied to a consonant other than plain [x]: Is the labialization less rounded or the unrounding more labialized?) Also, I can see it being useful for such things as an advanced-root velarization. Is this only done for co-articulation diacritics or also for others?
Sorry, since the sub-diacritic didn't display on my computer, it looked to me as if you had removed it. It would have prevented my error if you had written an edit summary. Better yet, why not write the gist of it in a footnote? That's the best way to head off misunderstandings, and I think your explanation is worth being included in the article. ◄ Sebastian 23:42, 8 April 2019 (UTC)

Hi Sebastian. The IPA doesn't regulate things to any great precision. For example, they only give a sample of compound tone letters in the chart, without stating that they're only a sample, which has mislead people into thinking that only those combinations are official. (You can concatenate as many tone letters together as you like, in any combination, though it's quite rare to see more than three and I don't know of any font that supports more than three.) That's more the purpose of the Handbook - phoneticians apply the IPA to their language, so you can see how they approach it and overcome any difficulties. But those illustrations aren't official - e.g., [c] and [ɟ] are not officially affricates, despite being used as such in the Handbook, though it's common to make such substitutions for phonemic transcription, which is outside the purview of the IPA that officially limits itself to phonetic transcription. (They removed the old 'syllabic' nasal letter with the argument that it was a phonemic symbol with no fixed phonetic value and therefor didn't belong in a phonetic alphabet, for example.)

So, re. your question, you can do anything that makes sense. If you need to indicate ATR velarization, then that's how you could transcribe it: ⟨tˠ̘⟩. The problem is when you think your transcription is obvious but it leaves others scratching their heads, which is why it's always a good idea to define your terms in publications. IMO, even if you're using IPA symbols with their cardinal values, it's important to tell your readers that you mean for them to have their cardinal values. And even to define what those are, since 50 years from now conventions might be different.

Good point about seeming to cancel each other out. I'll go ahead and add a footnote. Feel free to fix if you don't agree. — kwami (talk) 01:14, 9 April 2019 (UTC)

Community reassessment[edit]

International Phonetic Alphabet[edit]

Article (edit | visual edit | history) · Article talk (edit | history) · WatchWatch article reassessment pageMost recent review
Result: Delist I agree with Colins position that not everything in a GA needs to be cited, but Fiamh has acknowledged this and given an example of something which needs a citation. Since this has not been rectified and this has been open for over 4 months I am going to delist it. AIRcorn (talk) 22:59, 19 November 2019 (UTC)

There are long chunks of unreferenced sentences. I have identified and tagged, removed or corrected some OR and inaccuracies from time to time,[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9] but problems persist. IMHO it does a poor job particularly of differentiating what is the official, canonical IPA as set out by the International Phonetic Association and what are applications of the IPA; for example, [brackets] and /slashes/ are the only enclosing symbols recognized by the IPA, but the article only distinguishes them and other conventions as "principal" and "less common", with hardly any citation.

It may have deserved GA in 2006 when it became one, but I don't think it meets the standards we now expect from GAs. Nardog (talk) 20:36, 1 July 2019 (UTC)

  • I'm not seeing reason to delist. It seems understandable that a fairly prominent article like this would get some noisy contributions from time to time, but the diffs you linked don't seem like major issues. Something like this for example is a fine correction, but it's quite a small detail - the 'wrongness' of the previous wording isn't such that it would affect my thinking about GA status. The content you showed that you had removed for being unsourced or tagged with {{citation needed}} don't seem like they belong to one of the categories of statements for which the WP:GACR require inline citations. You clearly have a lot of expertise on this topic. On the one hand, that gives you a better ability than me to sniff out factually questionable claims or missing coverage. But it might also lead you to hold the article to higher standards than an average reader (or reviewer) would. I don't think I follow your issue about differentiating "official, canonical IPA" and "applications of the IPA" in the current state of the article - but I'd be interested in reading more if you'd like to elaborate. Colin M (talk) 22:04, 2 July 2019 (UTC)
  • I have to agree with Nardog. The essence of verifiability as I understand it is that the average reader can read any sentence in the article, find the source, and verify the information. Inline citations are not required for GAs, and that can be verifiable if it's a short article with relatively few sources. Some of the passages missing inline citations, such as the paragraph starting with "For example, while the /p/ sounds of pin and spin are pronounced slightly differently in English ..." are something you could find in any intro linguistics textbook, and I'd be willing to let that slide for the purpose of GA reassessment. But what about more obscure facts? For example, the passage "Superscript diacritics placed after a letter are ambiguous between simultaneous modification of the sound and phonetic detail at the end of the sound. For example, labialized ⟨kʷ⟩ may mean either simultaneous [k] and [w] or else [k] with a labialized release. Superscript diacritics placed before a letter, on the other hand, normally indicate a modification of the onset of the sound (⟨mˀ⟩ glottalized [m], ⟨ˀm⟩ [m] with a glottal onset)." Of the sources listed for this article, which of these has this information? How do I find it? And if I can't, how do we call it "verifiable"? Delist, since this has been sitting here for months without improvement. Fiamh (talk, contribs) 05:13, 26 October 2019 (UTC)

A Commons file used on this page has been nominated for deletion[edit]

The following Wikimedia Commons file used on this page has been nominated for deletion:

Participate in the deletion discussion at the nomination page. —Community Tech bot (talk) 05:22, 20 August 2019 (UTC)

Vowel vs Consonant[edit]

In the section about vowels, it is said that a vowel is "defined" as a sound which occurs at a syllable center. This definition is problematic in two senses. Firstly, it is ambiguous because it does not specify whether vowels are whichever sounds occur at least once at a syllable center for a given language (sonant sounds as a sound type) or whichever sound functions as the syllable's core for a given syllable (core sound as a sound function). Secondly, it is also false because there are syllabic consonants which occur at a syllable center. I would rather define vowels as unobstructed sounds whose quality is determined by the tongue position and lip shape, which is what they are according to the IPA schema. So I suggest this change for the ones controlling the page. Daniel Couto Vale (talk) 10:48, 6 January 2020 (UTC)