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Help:IPA/English

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Throughout Wikipedia, the pronunciation of words is indicated by means of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). The following tables list the IPA symbols used for English words and pronunciations. Please note that several of these symbols are used in ways that are specific to Wikipedia and differ from those used by dictionaries.

If the IPA symbols are not displayed properly by your browser, see the links below.

If you are adding a pronunciation using this key, such pronunciations should generally be formatted using the template {{IPAc-en}}. The template provides tooltips for each symbol in the pronunciation. See the template page for instructions.

Key

If the words given as examples for two different symbols sound the same to you (for example, if you pronounce cot and caught the same, or do and dew, or marry and merry), you can pronounce those symbols the same in explanations of all words. The footnotes explain some of these mergers. (See also Dialect variation below.)

If there is an IPA symbol you are looking for that you do not see here, see Help:IPA, which is a more complete list. For a table listing all spellings of the sounds on this page, see English orthography § Sound-to-spelling correspondences. For help converting spelling to pronunciation, see English orthography § Spelling-to-sound correspondences.

Consonants
IPA Examples
b buy, cab
d dye, cad, ladder[1]
dj dew[2]
giant, badge, jam
ð thy, breathe, father
f fan, caff, phi
ɡ (ɡ)[3] guy, bag
h high, ahead
hw why[4]
j[5] yes, hallelujah
k sky, crack
l lie, sly, gal[6]
lj lute[2]
m my, smile, cam
n nigh, snide, can
nj new[2]
ŋ sang, sink, singer
p pie, spy, cap
r[7] rye, try, very
s sigh, mass
sj consume[2]
ʃ shy, cash, emotion
t tie, sty, cat, latter[1]
tj tune[2]
China, catch
θ thigh, math
θj enthuse[2]
v vie, have
w wye, swine
z zoo, has
zj Zeus[2]
ʒ pleasure, vision, beige[8]
 
Marginal segments
IPA Examples
x ugh, loch, Chanukah[9]
ʔ uh-oh /ˈʔʌʔoʊ/
ɒ̃ bon vivant[10]
æ̃ fin de siècle[10]
ɜː Möbius (UK only)[11]
Vowels
Full vowels ...followed by R[12]
IPA Examples IPA Examples
ɑː PALM, bra ɑːr START, star
ɒ LOT, pod, John, blockade[13] ɒr moral, forage[13]
æ TRAP, pad, tattoo[14] ær barrow, marry[15]
PRICE, ride, pie[16] aɪər Ireland, hire[17]
aɪ.ər higher, buyer[18]
MOUTH, loud, down, how[16] aʊər flour[17]
aʊ.ər flower[18]
ɛ DRESS, bet, prestige[19] ɛr error, merry
FACE, made, fail, vein, pay ɛər SQUARE, mare, scarce, cairn, Mary[20][21]
eɪ.ər player[18]
ɪ KIT, lid, historic ɪr mirror, Sirius
FLEECE, seed, mean, pedigree, idea[22] ɪər NEAR, beard, fierce, serious[23][21]
iːər freer
GOAT, code, go, foal, follower[24][25] oʊ.ər mower
ɔː THOUGHT, Maud, dawn, fall, straw[26] ɔːr NORTH, FORCE, horse, hoarse, oral[27][28]
ɔːər sawer
ɔɪ CHOICE, void, boy ɔɪər coir[17]
ɔɪ.ər employer[18]
ʊ FOOT, good, full, woman ʊr courier
GOOSE, food, tissue, cruel[22] ʊər boor, moor, tourist, CURE (/ˈkjʊər/)[28][21]
uːər truer
ʌ STRUT, bud, untidy, justiciable[29][30] ɜːr NURSE, word, girl, fern, furry, Berlin[31]
ʌr hurry, nourish[32]
Weak vowels and syllabic consonants[33]
IPA Examples IPA Examples
ə COMMA, ago, quiet, focus ər LETTER, perceive
əl bottle (either [əl] or [l̩])
ən button (either [ən] or [n̩])
əm rhythm (either [əm] or [m̩])
i HAPPY, mediocre (either [i] or [ɪ])[34] serious, California (either [i.ə], [ɪ.ə], or [jə])[35]
u fruition (either [u] or [ʊ])[25] influence (either [u.ə], [ʊ.ə], or [wə])[36]
 
Stress Syllabification
IPA Examples IPA Examples
ˈ intonation /ˌɪntəˈneɪʃən/ . /ˈhaɪər/ hire, /ˈhaɪ.ər/ higher[37]
ˌ

Notes

Dialect variation

This key represents diaphonemes, abstractions of speech sounds that accommodate General American, Received Pronunciation (RP) and New Zealand (and to a large extent also Australian, Canadian, Irish (including Ulster), Scottish, South African and Welsh, but see below) pronunciations. Therefore, not all of the distinctions shown here are relevant to a particular dialect:

  • Many speakers of American and Canadian English pronounce cot /ˈkɒt/ and caught /ˈkɔːt/ the same.[j] You may simply ignore the difference between the symbols /ɒ/ and /ɔː/, just as you ignore the distinction between the written vowels o and au when pronouncing them.
  • Some speakers from Northern England do not distinguish the vowel of square /ˈskwɛər/ and nurse /ˈnɜːrs/.[k] If you speak such a dialect, ignore the difference between the symbols /ɛər/ and /ɜːr/.
  • In New Zealand English, the vowels of kit /ˈkɪt/ and focus /ˈfoʊkəs/ have the same schwa-like quality.[l][m] If you are from New Zealand, ignore the difference between the symbols /ɪ/ and /ə/.
  • In contemporary New Zealand English and some other dialects, the vowels of near /ˈnɪər/ and square /ˈskwɛər/ are not distinguished.[n] If you speak such a dialect, ignore the difference between the symbols /ɪər/ and /ɛər/.
  • In Scottish English and Ulster English, the vowels of foot /ˈfʊt/ and goose /ˈɡuːs/ are not distinguished.[o][p] If you speak either of those dialects, ignore the difference between the symbols /ʊ/ and /uː/.
  • In Northern England English, the vowels of foot /ˈfʊt/ and strut /ˈstrʌt/ are not distinguished.[q] If you are from Northern England, ignore the difference between the symbols /ʊ/ and /ʌ/.
  • In Welsh English and some other dialects, the vowels of strut /ˈstrʌt/ and focus /ˈfoʊkəs/ are not distinguished.[r] If you speak such a dialect, ignore the difference between the symbols /ʌ/ and /ə/.
  • In dialects with l-vocalization (such as Cockney, Estuary English or New Zealand English), /l/ after certain diphthongs such as /ɔɪ/ (as in oil /ˈɔɪl/) may not be distinguished from the /əl/ sequence in words such as treacle /ˈtrɛkəl/ or bubble /ˈbʌbəl/. If you speak such a dialect, read /l/ as /əl/ whenever it seems appropriate.
  • Depending on the dialect, vowels can be subject to various mergers before /l/, so that e.g. fill /ˈfɪl/ and feel /ˈfiːl/ or pull /ˈpʊl/ and pool /ˈpuːl/ may not be distinguished. See English-language vowel changes before historic /l/ for more information.
  • In many dialects, /r/ occurs only before a vowel; if you speak such a dialect, simply ignore /r/ in the pronunciation guides where you would not pronounce it, as in cart /kɑːrt/.
  • In other dialects, /j/ (yes) cannot occur after /t, d, n/, etc., within the same syllable; if you speak such a dialect, then ignore the /j/ in transcriptions such as new /njuː/. For example, New York is transcribed /njuː ˈjɔːrk/. For most people from England and for some New Yorkers, the /r/ in /jɔːrk/ is not pronounced; for most people from the United States, including some New Yorkers, the /j/ in /njuː/ is not pronounced and may be ignored. (See yod-dropping.)

On the other hand, there are some distinctions which you might make but which this key does not encode, as they are seldom reflected in the dictionaries used as sources for Wikipedia articles:

  • The vowels of kit and bit, distinguished in South Africa.[s] Both of them are transcribed as /ɪ/ in stressed syllables and as /ɪ/ or /ə/ in unstressed syllables.
  • The difference between the vowels of fir, fur and fern, maintained in some Scottish and Irish English but lost elsewhere.[t] All of them are transcribed as /ɜːr/.
  • The vowels of north and force, distinguished in Scottish English, Irish English and by a minority of American speakers.[t] Both of them are transcribed as /ɔːr/.
  • The vowels of pause and paws, distinguished in Cockney and by some Estuary English speakers.[u] Both of them are transcribed as /ɔː/ or /ɔːr/, depending on the word.
  • The vowels of bad and lad, distinguished in many parts of Australia. Both of them are transcribed as /æ/.
  • The vowels of manning and Manning, distinguished in some parts of the United States. Both of them are transcribed as /æ/.
  • The difference between the vowels of pain and pane found in some English, Welsh, and Newfoundland dialects. Both of them are transcribed as /eɪ/.
  • The difference between the vowels of holy and wholly found in Cockney and many Estuary English speakers.[v] Both of them are transcribed as /oʊ/.
  • The vowels of spider and spied her, distinguished in many parts of Scotland.[w] Both of them are transcribed as /aɪ/.
  • The vowels of rider and writer, distinguished in many parts of Canada and some parts of the United States. Both of them are transcribed as /aɪ/.
  • The vowels of powder and pouter distinguished in many parts of Canada and some parts of the United States. Both of them are transcribed as /aʊ/.

Other words may have different vowels depending on the speaker.

The pronunciation of the /æ/ vowel in most dialects of Scotland, Northern Ireland, northern England and Wales has always been closer to [a]. BBC English has moved away from the traditional near-open front realization [æ] towards almost fully open front realization [a], and both the Oxford English Dictionary and the 2014 edition of Gimson's Pronunciation of English transcribe the vowel in lad, bad, cat, trap with /a/.[x]

For more extensive information on dialect variations, you may wish to see the IPA chart for English dialects.

Note that place names are not generally exempted from being transcribed in this abstracted system, so rules such as the above must be applied in order to recover the local pronunciation. Examples include place names in much of England ending ‑ford, which although locally pronounced [‑fəd] are transcribed /‑fərd/. This is best practice for editors. However, readers should be aware that not all editors may have followed this consistently, so for example if /‑fəd/ is encountered for such a place name, it should not be interpreted as a claim that the /r/ would be absent even in a rhotic dialect.

Other transcriptions

If you feel it is necessary to add a pronunciation respelling using another convention, then please use the conventions of Wikipedia's pronunciation respelling key.

  • To compare the following IPA symbols with non-IPA American dictionary conventions that may be more familiar, see Pronunciation respelling for English, which lists the pronunciation guides of fourteen English dictionaries published in the United States.
  • To compare the following IPA symbols with other IPA conventions that may be more familiar, see Help:IPA/Conventions for English, which lists the conventions of eight English dictionaries published in Britain, Australia, and the United States.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ a b In varieties with flapping, /t/ and /d/ between a vowel and an unstressed or word-initial vowel may be pronounced with a voiced tap [ɾ], making the words latter and ladder homophonous. Some dictionaries transcribe /t/ subject to this process as ⟨d⟩, ⟨D⟩, or ⟨⟩, but they are not distinguished in this notation system. In those varieties, the sequence /nt/ in the same environment may also be realized as nasalized tap [ɾ̃], which may sound similar or identical to /n/. This is also not distinguished in this system.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g In dialects with yod dropping, /j/ in /juː/ or /jʊər/ is not pronounced after coronal consonants (/t/, /d/, /s/, /z/, /n/, /θ/, and /l/) in the same syllable, so that dew /djuː/ is pronounced the same as do /duː/. In dialects with yod coalescence, /tj/ and /dj/ mostly merge with /tʃ/ and /dʒ/, so that the first syllable in Tuesday is pronounced the same as choose. In some dialects /sj/ and /zj/ are also affected and frequently merge with /ʃ/ and /ʒ/.
  3. ^ If the two characters ⟨ɡ⟩ and ⟨Opentail g.svg⟩ do not match and if the first looks like a ⟨γ⟩, then you have an issue with your default font. See Help:IPA § Rendering issues.
  4. ^ The phoneme /hw/ is not distinguished from /w/ in the many dialects with the winewhine merger, such as RP and most varieties of General American. For more information on this sound, see voiceless labialized velar approximant.
  5. ^ The IPA value of the letter ⟨j⟩ is counter-intuitive to many English speakers. However, it does occur with this sound in a few English words: Besides hallelujah, there are fjord, Jägermeister and Jarlsberg cheese.
  6. ^ /l/ in the syllable coda, as in the words all, cold, or bottle, is pronounced as [o], [u], [w] or a similar sound in many dialects through L-vocalization.
  7. ^ In most varieties of English, /r/ is pronounced as an approximant [ɹ]. Although the IPA symbol [r] represents a trill, /r/ is widely used instead of /ɹ/ in broad transcriptions of English.
  8. ^ A number of English words, such as genre and garage, may be pronounced with either /ʒ/ or /dʒ/.
  9. ^ In most dialects, /x/ is replaced by /k/ in most words, including loch. It is also replaced with /h/ in some words, such as Chanukah.
  10. ^ a b /ɒ̃, æ̃/ are only found in French loanwords and often replaced by another vowel and a nasal consonant: bon vivant /ˌbɒn viːˈvɑːnt/, ensemble /ɑːnˈsɑːmbəl/, croissant /ˈkwæsɑːŋ/, meringue /məˈræŋ/.[a]
  11. ^ /ɜː/ is only found in loanwords in British and Southern Hemisphere accents, and therefore a transcription that includes it must always be prefaced with a label indicating the variety of English. Use this when a reliable source shows that a vowel in a loanword is pronounced as /ɜː/ in these accents and as a different vowel in General American. If a reliable source shows that a vowel is pronounced as the NURSE vowel in General American as well even though spelled without ⟨r⟩, as in Goethe and hors d'oeuvre, use /ɜːr/.
  12. ^ In non-rhotic accents like RP, /r/ is not pronounced unless followed by a vowel.
  13. ^ a b In dialects with the fatherbother merger such as General American, /ɒ/ is not distinguished from /ɑː/ except before /r/. Before /r/, it merges with /ɔː/ except for a handful of words such as borrow, tomorrow and sorry. Such words should have separate General American transcriptions, as is the case with CLOTH words.
  14. ^ In North America, /æ/ is often pronounced like a diphthong [eə~ɛə], especially before nasal consonants. See /æ/ raising.
  15. ^ /ær/ is pronounced the same as /ɛr/ (as in merry) in accents with the Marymarrymerry merger.
  16. ^ a b In much of North America, /aɪ/ or /aʊ/ may have a slightly different quality when it precedes a voiceless consonant, as in price or mouth, from that in ride/pie or loud/how, a phenomenon known as Canadian raising. Since this occurs in a predictable fashion, it is not distinguished in this transcription system.
  17. ^ a b c In some dialects, especially in the UK, the second segment in a diphthong followed by /ə/ is often omitted. This process or lack thereof may help choose between /aɪər, aʊər, ɔɪər/ in some words (diary, admirer) and /aɪr, aʊr, ɔɪr/ in others (pirate, siren), a distinction not always clear.
  18. ^ a b c d Some speakers pronounce higher, flower, mayor and coyer ("more coy") with two syllables, and hire, flour, mare and coir with one. Others pronounce them the same.
  19. ^ /ɛ/ is transcribed as /e/ by many dictionaries.[b] However, /eɪ/ is also sometimes transcribed as /e/, especially in American literature, so /ɛ/ is chosen here.
  20. ^ /ɛər/ is pronounced the same as /ɛr/ (as in merry) in accents with the Marymarrymerry merger. It is often transcribed as /eə/ by British dictionaries and as /er/ by American ones. The OED uses /ɛː/ for BrE and /ɛ(ə)r/ for AmE,[c] but the Oxford Online Dictionaries apparently always use /er/ for AmE despite having /e(ə)r/ in their key to US pronunciations.[d][e]
  21. ^ a b c /ɛə/, /ɪə/, or /ʊə/ may be separated from /r/ only when a stress follows it. The IPAc-en template supports /ɛəˈr/, /ɪəˈr/, /ʊəˈr/, /ɛəˌr/, /ɪəˌr/, and /ʊəˌr/ as distinct diaphonemes for such occasions.
  22. ^ a b Words like idea, real, theatre, and cruel may be pronounced with /ɪə/ or /ʊə/ in non-rhotic accents such as Received Pronunciation, and some dictionaries transcribe them with /ɪə, ʊə/,[f] but since they do not stem from historical /r/ and are not pronounced with /r/ in rhotic accents, they should be transcribed with /iːə, uːə/, not with /ɪər, ʊər/, in this transcription system.
  23. ^ /ɪər/ is pronounced the same as /ɪr/ in accents with the mirrornearer merger.
  24. ^ /oʊ/ is transcribed as /əʊ/ in Received Pronunciation.
  25. ^ a b /oʊ/ and /u/ in unstressed, prevocalic positions are transcribed as /əw/ by Merriam-Webster, but no other dictionary uniformly follows this practice.[g] Hence a difference between /əw/ in Merriam-Webster and /oʊ/ or /u/ in another source is most likely one in notation, not in pronunciation, so /əw/ in such cases may be better replaced with /oʊ/ or /u/ accordingly, to minimize confusion: /ˌsɪtʃəˈweɪʃən//ˌsɪtʃuˈeɪʃən/, /ˈfɒləwər//ˈfɒloʊər/.
  26. ^ /ɔː/ is not distinguished from /ɒ/ (except before /r/) in dialects with the cotcaught merger such as many varieties of General American.
  27. ^ Some conservative dialects make a distinction between the vowels in horse and hoarse, but the number of speakers who make this distinction any longer is very small and many dictionaries do not differentiate between them (horse–hoarse merger). The vowel in hoarse was formerly represented as /ɔər/ on Wikipedia, but is now represented as /ɔːr/, identical to horse.
  28. ^ a b /ʊər/ is not distinguished from /ɔːr/ in dialects with the cureforce merger, including many younger speakers. In England, the merger may not be fully consistent and may only apply to more common words. In conservative RP and Northern England English /ʊər/ is much more commonly preserved than in modern RP and Southern England English. In Australia and New Zealand, /ʊər/ does not exist as a separate phoneme and is replaced either by the sequence /uːər/ (/uːr/ before vowels within the same word, save for some compounds) or the monophthong /ɔːr/.
  29. ^ Some, particularly American, dictionaries notate /ʌ/ with the same symbol as /ə/, which is found only in unstressed syllables, and distinguish it from /ə/ only by a stress mark preceding it. Also note that although ⟨ʌ⟩, the IPA symbol for the open-mid back vowel, is used, the typical modern pronunciation is rather close to the near-open central vowel [ɐ] in both Received Pronunciation and General American.
  30. ^ /ʌ/ is not used in the dialects of the northern half of England, some bordering parts of Wales, and some broad eastern Ireland accents. These words would take the /ʊ/ vowel: there is no footstrut split.
  31. ^ In Received Pronunciation, /ɜːr/ is pronounced as a lengthened schwa, [əː]. In General American, it is phonetically identical to /ər/. Some dictionaries therefore use ⟨əː, ər⟩ instead of the conventional notations ⟨ɜː, ɜr⟩. When ⟨ər⟩ is used for /ɜːr/, it is distinguished from /ər/ by a stress mark preceding it.
  32. ^ /ʌr/ is not distinguished from /ɜːr/ in dialects with the hurryfurry merger such as some varieties of General American.
  33. ^ In a number of contexts, /ə/ in /ər/, /əl/, /ən/, or /əm/ is often omitted, resulting in a syllable with no vowel. Some dictionaries show /ə/ in those contexts in parentheses, superscript, or italics to indicate this possibility, or simply omit /ə/. When followed by a weak vowel, the syllable may be lost altogether, with the consonant moving to the next syllable, so that doubling /ˈdʌb.əl.ɪŋ/ may alternatively be pronounced as [ˈdʌb.lɪŋ], and Edinburgh /ˈɛd.ɪn.bər.ə/ as [ˈɛd.ɪn.brə].[h] When not followed by a vowel, /ər/ merges with /ə/ in non-rhotic accents.
  34. ^ /i/ is pronounced [i] in dialects with the happy tensing and [ɪ] in others. British convention used to transcribe it with ⟨ɪ⟩, but the OED and other influential dictionaries recently converted to ⟨i⟩.
  35. ^ /iə/ may be pronounced as two syllables, [i.ə] or [ɪ.ə], or as one, [jə], [ɪ̯ə] or [ɪə̯]. When pronounced as one syllable in a non-rhotic accent, it may be indistinguishable from, and identified as, the NEAR vowel (/ɪər/).[f] It must be transcribed as /iə/, not /i.ə/, because the latter would falsely suggest that the disyllabic pronunciation is the only possibility. Disyllabic pronunciation is mandatory across word boundaries, as in happy again.[i]
  36. ^ /uə/ may be pronounced as two syllables, [u.ə] or [ʊ.ə], or as one, [wə] or [ʊə̯]. When pronounced as one syllable in a non-rhotic accent, it may be indistinguishable from, and identified as, the CURE vowel (/ʊər/).[f] It must be transcribed as /uə/, not /u.ə/, because the latter would falsely suggest that the disyllabic pronunciation is the only possibility.[i]
  37. ^ Syllable divisions are not usually marked, but the IPA dot '.' may be used when it is wished to make explicit where a division between syllables is (or may be) made.

References

  1. ^ Jones (2011).
  2. ^ Wells, John (18 March 2009). "e and ɛ". John Wells's phonetic blog. Blogspot. Retrieved 13 March 2015.
  3. ^ "Key to pronunciation". Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 13 March 2015.
  4. ^ "square" in Oxford Online Dictionaries
  5. ^ Key to US pronunciations in Oxford Online Dictionaries
  6. ^ a b c Wells (1982), p. 240.
  7. ^ Windsor Lewis, Jack (10 April 2009). "The Elephant in the Room". PhonetiBlog.
  8. ^ Wells (2008), pp. 173, 799.
  9. ^ a b Wells (2008), p. 173.
  10. ^ Wells (1982), pp. 473–476, 493, 499.
  11. ^ Wells (1982), pp. 361, 372.
  12. ^ Wells (1982), pp. 605–607.
  13. ^ Bauer et al. (2007), pp. 98–99.
  14. ^ Bauer et al. (2007), p. 98.
  15. ^ Stuart-Smith (2004), p. 58.
  16. ^ Corrigan (2010), pp. 33–35.
  17. ^ Wells (1982), pp. 351–353, 363–364.
  18. ^ Wells (1982), pp. 380–381.
  19. ^ Wells (1982), pp. 612–613.
  20. ^ a b Stuart-Smith (2004), p. 56
  21. ^ Wells (1982), pp. 304, 310–311.
  22. ^ Wells (1982), pp. 304, 312–313.
  23. ^ Stuart-Smith (2004), p. 57.
  24. ^ Cruttenden (2014), pp. 119–120.

Bibliography

External links