Talk:International Phonetic Alphabet

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See Wikipedia:Manual of Style (pronunciation) for the style guide on the English Wikipedia regarding the use of IPA symbols.

Letterforms ... WTF?[edit]

I quote from the article:

"The letters chosen for the IPA are meant to harmonize with the Latin alphabet.[note 5] For this reason, most letters are either Latin or Greek, or modifications thereof. Some letters are neither: for example, the letter denoting the glottal stop, ???, has the form of a dotless question mark, and derives originally from an apostrophe. A few letters, such as that of the voiced pharyngeal fricative, ???, were inspired by other writing systems (in this case, the Arabic letter ?? ‘ain)."

  • If the letter denoting the "glottal stop" is three question marks -- ??? -- then why does it go on to say it "has the form of a dotless question mark"?
  • Is a "glottal stop" the same thing as a "voiced pharyngeal fricative", since they are both denoted by the same triple-quesstion mark?
  • Is the "Arabic letter" refered to "??", or is it "`ain" or is it "??`ain" ? This is not clear from the description.

The section goes on:

"Despite its preference for harmonizing with the Latin script, the International Phonetic Association has occasionally admitted other letters. For example, before 1989, the IPA letters for click consonants were ???, ???, ???, and ???, all of which were derived either from existing IPA letters, or from Latin and Greek letters. "

  • "Click consonants" seems unnecessarily vague: which consonants are these? C,K,Q,X ? C,D,F,G? W,X,Y,Z? Why not just list them and remove the ambiguity?
  • If all of these "click consonants" are denoted by the same symbol, why repeat it four times? Wouldn't it make more sense to actually list the consonants and then say they're all denoted by "???" ?
  • Is the symbol for all of these consonants really identical with that of the "glottal stop" and "voiced pharyngeal fricative"? If so, how does one tell them apart?
  • In both cases it is unclear whether the symbol is " ??? " or "???, "

I would suggest using quotation marks to clarify which characters belong to the symbol, and which are punctuation for the article.

And still further on:

"However, except for ???, none of these letters were widely used among Khoisanists or Bantuists, and as a result they were replaced by the more widespread symbols ???, ???, ???, ???, and ??? at the IPA Kiel Convention in 1989."

  • Say what? The "Khoisanists or Bantuists" didn't use the triple-question mark "letter", so they replaced it with ... the same triple-question mark?

The article is full of pseudo "explanations" like these which make absolutely NO SENSE to a layman. The article seems written for a academic linguist inpossession of the mysterious knowledge of how to tell one arbitrary group of question marks from another apparently identical group of question marks (by context?). At any rate, I think the article requires a major rewrite.

And while you're at it, the "illustration" of the full IPA displays as a black box with a few featurless grey blocks in the upper third of the box. Perhaps an actual visible chart of the alphabet would be more useful? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

There should be no occurrences of '???' on the page, so I think you are having some problem with viewing the page. Because IPA uses bleeding edge bits of Unicode/HTML etc, this page is susceptible to rendering problems. Please check if you can read the page properly by fiddling around with encoding options etc in your browser (or try a different browser). If the problem will not go away I suggest you ask again with details of your setup. Fundamentally the article is supposed to be readable! Imaginatorium (talk) 07:13, 23 July 2014 (UTC)

Whistling [edit]

How is whistling represented in the IPA? I know for a fact that several African and Native American languages have whistling in their languages, so how would you represent this? Would it perhaps be represented as IPA: [s͍͎ ]?

@Cameron Brimhall: Please sign your talk page entries, either with ~~~~ or by using the pencil "signature" icon, third from the left in the talk page formatting bar, just after B and I.
  1. It isn't.
  2. No, they don't. There are so-called "whistling languages" that are used to communicate across distances, but these are not languages in the usual sense. Can you give references for what you "know for a fact"? --Thnidu (talk) 04:17, 7 January 2015 (UTC)

Can somebody add the best teaching/learning software games for the IPA in the related links section?[edit]

Is there something like that out there?
I have a 3D Animation of the skull in mind
where you see the tongue and all the other movements
connected with making a voice or noises like the vocal cords,
the palate and lips for studying it and
more playful games like a karaoke engine
that shows words and sentences and a translucent bar
moves over the word and IPA signs to show what the voice is telling.
Does anybody know where I can find that?
I only found this terrible thing:
If you know something like that please post a link
on the wiki page and send me an email.
My email is my account name at Google mail.
--Jangirke (talk) 03:25, 10 September 2014 (UTC)

Diacritics and allophones[edit]

Concerning slots on the chart that have no basic symbol, the article now says:

"Diacritics can supply much of the remainder, which would indeed be appropriate if the sounds were allophones."

I'm somewhat concerned with this, because to my knowledge there is no necessary association between diacritic transcription and allophonic status in IPA. For example, you would use the palatalization diacritic to transcribe the palatalized consonant phonemes of Russian, and you would use the separate beta/eth/gamma symbols to transcribe the fricative allophones of Spanish /bdg/. Unless someone points out something I'm missing here, I propose to remove the part of the sentence above that follows the comma. BruceHayesUCLA (talk) 02:53, 29 October 2014 (UTC)

@BruceHayesUCLA: I fully agree, and I'm about to do it. Thanks for pointing it out. To discuss this with me, please {{Ping}} me. Thnidu (talk) 04:20, 7 January 2015 (UTC)

Font links gone[edit]

The box at the top of this talk page says (second bullet in the first pane)

  • I can read the IPA, but not on Wikipedia. It either doesn't display correctly, or appears in an ugly or illegible font.
See the bottom of the article for links to several fonts that support the IPA if you don't have one installed.

There are no links to fonts in the article. Without doing a search, I suspect that someone took them out because s/he considered them advertising.

I'm posting a link to this Talk entry to the Talk pages of the three projects mentioned in the bottom of the box. To discuss this with me, please {{Ping}} me. Thnidu (talk) 04:37, 7 January 2015 (UTC)

@Thnidu: I did a little rummaging in the History page, and found this edit. It seems the note was moved to Help:Special characters § IPA symbols; that section should be linked in the note above. — Eru·tuon 05:11, 7 January 2015 (UTC)
And now it is. — Eru·tuon 05:17, 7 January 2015 (UTC)
@Erutuon: thanks! --Thnidu (talk) 07:02, 7 January 2015 (UTC)

Angle brackets[edit]

What's with the boxes? I see ⟨b⟩ for example. Is this some standard or a fonts issue? meant to represent [] or entirely different symbol?-- (talk) 18:00, 4 February 2015 (UTC)

⟨ and ⟩ are angle brackets. Anything between angle brackets is an example of orthography; the angle brackets mean something like "stuff here is an example of letters or writing". Anything in square brackets is an example of phonemes, and anything in slashes is an example of phonetics, meaning the actual pronunciation of phonemes. An example of usage:
The letter t represents the phoneme [t] in English, and the phoneme /t/ has the unaspirated allophone [t] in stop, aspirated [tʰ] in top, and sometimes glottalized [tˀ] in pot.
Eru·tuon 23:03, 4 February 2015 (UTC)

Android notes:
  • U+27E8 (⟨) and U+27E9 (⟩) (mathematical left/right angle bracket) do not appear in Android in the Wikipedia app, at least not with supplied fonts; neither do they appear in Google Chrome (Android)
  • U+2329 (〈) and U+232A (〉) (left/right-pointing angle bracket) which are deprecated, appear in the Wikipedia app, but not in Google Chrome (Android). This appears to be how the lang and rang HTML entities are being realized.
  • Only U+3008 (〈) and U+3009 (〉) (left/right angle bracket in Chinese punctuation) are working in both the app and in Chrome.
just fyi. – RVJ (talk) 06:20, 3 March 2015 (UTC)

Audio Recordings[edit]

I appreciate the audio files. However I feel that many of them, especially the vowels, are poor representations. To this end I have recorded some sample vowels and uploaded; please check them out and let me know if you would like me to do more. If people like them, I will upload a full vocalic repertoire and we can replace the current ones. I would be into uploading some consonants as well. Any suggestions / critique welcome, I am almost entirely self-taught so it is possible I have some of the sound values slightly off. Let me know if you think my sounds are accurate or give suggestions for how they could be better! See here. More to come soon. Shouai (talk) 01:05, 7 February 2015 (UTC)

Cheers Shouai, I very much appreciate your effort. — This makes me wonder if Daniel Jones’s nearly authoritative original recordings of the 8 primary and 10 secondary cardinal vowels are still copyright protected after so many years. In case they are in the public domain by now I strongly recommend considering using those.
As to recordings you’ve uploaded: To my ear [ᴜ] lacks sufficient lip-rounding, and [y] as well as [a] are not entirely front. (In everyday life, i.e. when applied to common accents of common languages, the symbols [y] and [a] often, or even usually, have a value close to yours; however this is not their cardinal value. Note however that the Handbook of the International Phonetic Association doesn’t seem to refer to cardinal vowels at all, so my relying on them as reference points within a neatly delimited continuum may be somewhat out-dated. Yet I believe that this “London tradition” is the most widespread among trained phoneticians, and one of the best defined, to boot.) LiliCharlie (talk) 19:00, 7 February 2015 (UTC)
Thanks LiliCharlie. I felt inclined to contribute because I have been thinking for a while about how the IPA recordings are not really up to par (and I think I have spotted comments in the talk pages which suggest I am not the only one who thinks so). While I do not doubt the accuracy of Mr. Jones' recordings for a second (and it may well be that these are the best recordings to use), I would like to suggest that we can do even better, at least in terms of recording quality. I am sure there are many people more qualified than I to do this work; on the other hand I am happy to do it, assuming I can provide suitable recordings.
I am 100% in agreement that the IPA recordings ought to reflect the pure, standard cardinal value of the letters. Being a self-taught linguist, my idea of these cardinal values may be slightly skewed. If you don't mind, have a listen to this recording of the frontal vowels and let me know if you think it is more accurate.Shouai (talk) 23:43, 7 February 2015 (UTC)
Hey, I applaud any effort to whip Wikipedia's coverage of phonetics into shape. However, as I said in Talk:Open-mid back unrounded vowel § Audio, your recording of [ʌ] actually has the vowel [ɐ]. Thus, your recordings of [ʌ] and [ɐ] are almost identical.
I think the reason for the objections to the recordings of [ʌ ʊ] is that the IPA cardinal values of these symbols don't actually occur in standard American English. In my dialect, at least, the vowels represented with [ʌ ʊ] in Help:IPA for English are lowered and centralized to [ɐ ɵ]. Thus, my pronunciation of the vowels in but and good is almost identical to the vowels in the recordings to the right. Let me know if this is also true of your pronunciation, Shouai. (I'm assuming you speak American English; my apologies if this is wrong. However, the mismatch may be true of other English dialects as well.) If so, then perhaps the existing recordings of [ʌ ʊ] are actually accurate. — Eru·tuon 05:56, 8 February 2015 (UTC)
I would like to get involved in this discussion about recordings of sounds relevant to the IPA - it's something I have views on as a professional phonetician. I'm in favour of having sound illustrations wherever possible, so I'm glad you are already active in this, but I am anxious that they should be in line with the norms of practical phonetic training, for obvious reasons. I can't actually see any audio "click and listen" features in the article for which this is the Talk page. The nearest thing seems to be links from symbols on a vowel chart to specific pages for specific vowels. Is it the recordings used on those pages that you are talking about? Incidentally, I feel that there should be a substantial section on practical phonetic training in the article on Phonetics - or maybe a separate page? I hope I can contribute something on this soon. RoachPeter (talk) 14:28, 8 February 2015 (UTC)
Yes, a separate en.WP page Practical phonetics or a multimedia wikibook​let Practical Phonetic Training would be a great help to many users. But who has expertise, time and courage enough to search and record utterances (audio and possibly video) and start such a page? LiliCharlie (talk) 15:56, 8 February 2015 (UTC)
@RoachPeter: Yes, the recordings being discussed are those in the pages on individual vowels: for instance, the recording in the infobox of Open-mid back unrounded vowel. — Eru·tuon 19:52, 8 February 2015 (UTC)
Thanks, I'll listen to them. Meanwhile, I'll produce an article on Practical Phonetics. RoachPeter (talk) 10:19, 10 February 2015 (UTC)

I noticed that the article on the near-close central rounded vowel [ʊ̈] or [ʉ̞] doesn't have a recording yet. — Eru·tuon 20:32, 10 February 2015 (UTC)

I have submitted a short article on Practical Phonetic Training. At present it concentrates on the historical background to the training and the justification for it, but if it's accepted I intent to add more about current practice. RoachPeter (talk) 09:04, 12 February 2015 (UTC)

Oh, great. I have just read that it has been reviewed and rejected. What is the point? RoachPeter (talk) 08:59, 6 March 2015 (UTC)
@RoachPeter: It's discouraging, I know, but there are a few options that you could pursue. If you submitted the article at Wikibooks, it would not be rejected. Wikibooks does not exclude essays or how-to articles. There is a section of the Linguistics Wikibook on Phonetics that would benefit from the addition of practical information. And if such information is included, perhaps we can find a way to link it from Wikipedia so that readers will find it and use it.
Another possibility is to revise the article in some way to make it less of an essay. Then it would not be rejected as inappropriate for the Article namespace. A third option is to see if it can be added to the Help namespace, perhaps as Help:Phonetics or something like that. Not totally sure if practical phonetics would be appropriate as a Wikipedia help page, but it's worth considering. I know that many readers find IPA hard to understand; hence a practical guide to pronouncing the IPA symbols might be helpful. — Eru·tuon 21:50, 6 March 2015 (UTC)
A fourth and sort of hybrid possibility is to revise the article so that it will not be rejected for the Article namespace, but to also create a how-to page in the Help namespace or on Wikibooks with more details on pronouncing the IPA symbols, understanding places of articulation, etc. — Eru·tuon 21:53, 6 March 2015 (UTC)

Broken link[edit]

The link to "current IPA chart" is broken. (talk) 18:18, 24 February 2015 (UTC)

Types of transcription[edit]

This section was titled "Brackets (and phonemes)"; there was some removal and replacement of the "and phonemes" bit. This latter bit seems not quite right anyway, since the section is neither about "phonemes", nor about "phones" (if that's the right noun for "phonetic"), it is about the distinction between phonemic and phonetic transcription. I changed it to a more generic title; I hope this just about covers the somewhat scrappy bits about "other" brackets. Imaginatorium (talk) 13:29, 30 March 2015 (UTC)