Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Pronunciation/Archive 8

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Even scholarly Greek etc. needs IPA

The nerve of e.g., Comedy#Etymology waxing on and on:

The word "comedy" is derived from the Classical Greek κωμῳδία, which is a compound either of κῶμος (revel) or κώμη (village) and ᾠδή (singing): it is possible that κῶμος itself is derived from κώμη, and originally meant a village revel. The adjective "comic" (Greek κωμικός), which strictly means that which relates to comedy is...

I mean without IPA etc. we average English speakers feel left out. So I slapped a Template:cleanup-IPA on it. But in general, there should be a style guideline saying that it is not fair just saying things in a foreign language, no matter how erudite, without providing help for English speakers. Same for other language Wikipedias.

(True, one may say IPA itself is rather erudite.) Jidanni (talk) 06:08, 10 September 2008 (UTC)

Better is Bat

The word Chiroptera comes from the Greek words cheir (χειρ) "hand" and pteron (πτερον) "wing,"...

Jidanni (talk) 10:12, 12 September 2008 (UTC)

These look like they need transliteration, not IPA. Off the top of my head, I think it would look something like komodia, komos, komi, odi, and komikos. Already covered by WP:MOS#Foreign terms and WP:GREEKMichael Z. 2008-09-12 18:12 z

should we delete EnPR?

We have two templates, {{EnPR}} and {{EnPR2}}, which use AHD rather than IPA. I think that at the least they should be moved to {{AHD}}, but there are comments on their talk pages about deleting them entirely. Should we? If we keep them, we should mention them here. kwami (talk) 02:25, 2 January 2009 (UTC)

Isn't enPR distinct from AHD? JIMp talk·cont 11:16, 6 January 2009 (UTC)
I couldn't find any differences. Based on the online AHD, it looks like the AHD might not distinguish secondary stress, but I think this is a font problem. (Words like rheumatoid are screwed up online.) Regardless, all the phonemic symbols are the same.
PS. Based on comments at Wiktionary, it seems that it may not be used the same as the AHD for any particular word, but there don't appear to be any differences in the system. kwami (talk) 17:44, 6 January 2009 (UTC)
Aren't we concerned that the American Heritage Dictionary's pronunciation system is proprietary, owned by Houghton Mifflin? Is there a similar established system which is public domain, for example from Webster's 1913 or an OED fascicle?
I see that we have a reference for the COD's “phonetic scheme” and system “without respelling” in Pronunciation respelling for English. If we could confirm that this is the system used in the 1911 edition, then it would be completely public domain. It looks like a suitable replacement (athough I'm not clear on the nature of the two different systems). Michael Z. 2009-01-06 19:06 z

The enPR designation was developed on Wiktionary as a result of a vote and concern that we don't want a system or name that belongs to another organization. The AHD name is not ours to use. The system is in many ways similar, but does not copy the AHD's system. It draws upon Webster's, Random House, and other systems that use what is sometimes called "schoolbook" pronunciation in the US. If WP's table does not differ from the AHD's, then it should be updated, but under no circumstances may we name it after the American Heritage Dictionary. --EncycloPetey (talk) 01:45, 9 January 2009 (UTC)

I can see some sense in WP's using enPR—close ties between Wikipedia & Wiktionary are a good thing—but what we don't need is another transcription system. If we want something like AHD, let's use enPR, why reinvent the wheel? JIMp talk·cont 11:56, 10 January 2009 (UTC)
I don't understand—are you suggesting we do or don't use the Wiki-originated enPR system? Michael Z. 2009-01-10 17:53 z
I'm suggesting that if we use any AHD-like system, it should be Wiktionary's. Thus don't replace {{enPR}} with {{AHD}} but replace {{AHD}} with {{enPR}} ... or delete them both. JIMp talk·cont 11:13, 11 January 2009 (UTC)
Okay, agreed. (I had thought that WP:AHD and WP:EnPR were two names for one “AHD-like” system). Michael Z. 2009-01-11 17:13 z
AFAICT the systems are for all intents and purposes identical. Despite several requests, EncycloPetey has refused to give even one of the differences he claims between the two. If there are differences, they must be quite minor, such as deciding whether the vowel of sing is that of seen or sin, and so would merely be a local interpretation of AHD, not a separate system. EncycloPetey writes "we don't want a system [...] that belongs to another organization", but that's exactly what we're doing, unless we agree that AHD cannot own the system (below), in which case the sentence is meaningless. "The [EnPR] system is in many ways similar, but does not copy the AHD's system." Patently false. It might as well be a photocopy of the AHD. Any differences (if they exist) are in the implementation of the system, which are not spelled out in the description of EnPR. The symbols and their stand-alone values are identical. "It draws upon Webster's, Random House, and other systems"—if true, their input is minuscule. This is like scanning the EB, adding an article from World Book, and claiming that the result is not a copy of the EB.
However, AFAIK you cannot copyright a transcription system, because you cannot copyright a writing system. But that's my OR, since I don't know if transcription is legally writing. kwami (talk) 06:09, 12 January 2009 (UTC)
I doubt it's that clear cut. You can copyright your tables describing your own or someone else's writing system, but perhaps you can't copyright the fact that your system has x character represent y sound. But who says that you don't own your writing system if you invented it? And of course you can always have your lawyers send someone letters or take them to court, and the answers won't be clear until an agreement or verdict is reached.
But writing about AHD's system in an article is scholarship, while making use of it, under whatever name, is different. I would prefer to use something which is clearly free because it is out of copyright, or used by many publishers, or placed in the public domain by its creators. And something created by experts would be preferable to our own novel system. Michael Z. 2009-01-12 17:36 z
International copyright law does not allow one to copyright a writing system. Tolkien's works are AFAIK under renewed copyright, but Tengwar and Cirth are not. Likewise, the Star Trek movies are under copyright, but the Klingon script which appeared in them is not. We cannot copy definitions out of the AHD, but there is nothing keeping us from using their transcription system. I don't think we even need to credit them, though of course since we are a reference it would best to do so.
The AHD rhotic vowels are counter-intuitive, so IMO it would be clearer to use the standard US school system, and stick to non-rhotic vowel letters plus ar for the rhotic vowels. However, that would mean a split between ourselves and Wiktionary. kwami (talk) 19:10, 12 January 2009 (UTC)
I think I see what makes this system unique to Wikipedia: it's "dynamic". That means we can change stuff as we go along—EncycloPetey just redefined /œ/ by splitting off /ë/. Of course, whenever we do that, the transcriptions of all the words with the relevant phoneme become incorrect, so "dynamicity" does not strike me as beneficial. It also means that we're not staying in sync with Wiktionary's enPR (the AHD stress marks and non-AHD foreign vowels differ from Wiktionary), and I had naively assumed that cross-reffing with Wiktionary was the whole point of having an enPR transcription in Wikipedia. kwami (talk) 20:07, 12 January 2009 (UTC)
What's the school system? Is there a reference?
Yeah, if it's dynamic then it's not a standard. Another argument for picking a system instead of developing one while it's already in use. Michael Z. 2009-01-12 20:41 z
AHD is only useful for native English words and a few borrowed words from French and German. It is biased towards the pronunciation of English in America. It is not extendable because it is fixed upon publication. Wiktionary devised the concept of enPR as dynamic precisely because we were confronted with the fact that (1) we needed to represent sounds that didn't have symbols in AHD's system, and therefore potentially extend any system we had, (2) the name AHD belongs to another dictionary, (3) we had some symbols and notation in use that were not part of AHD's system. We could not use a standard US school system pronunciation because there is no such standard. Systems like enPR and AHD exist in Webster's and in other US dictionaries, and are threrefore sometimes collectively called "schoolbook" pronunciation in the US, but there is no standard US schoolbook system. The particulars of the system vary from dictionary to dictionary and publisher to publisher. --EncycloPetey (talk) 21:28, 12 January 2009 (UTC)
I'm not following. EnPR is also "only useful for native English words and a few borrowed words from French and German". Until you added ë today, the only symbol from another dicionary was a-dot, from Webster's. Why do you need to extend the system? Are you trying to make it universal? As for school systems, I was thinking of what they teach kids in US elementary schools, which use the same vowel letters before R as elsewhere. However, I think it's more useful to keep in sync with Wiktionary EnPR, which we've already diverged from. kwami (talk) 21:45, 12 January 2009 (UTC)
I believe elementary schools use whatever system is in their chosen dictionary, presumably one of the dozen or more represented in “pronunciation respelling for English”. Does the US even have a federal curriculum?
If EnPR is not the same as the AHD's system, then we should immediately remove any statement like “sometimes referred to as the AHD system”, which may infringe on a trademark (distinct from copyright issues).
If new English sounds are encountered, then it makes sense to add symbols for them. But once in use, the symbol for a sound should never change, because that could silently break the transcriptions in hundreds of articles.
EnPR is only intended for English, including sounds used in English for foreign words, right? Or are we planning on extending this to other languages? Michael Z. 2009-01-12 22:43 z
We can't use EnPR for other languages, because the symbols are defined according to the reader's pronunciation. Any attempt to expand beyond what the reader can pronounce would become a real mess. That's what we have the IPA for.
If we revert the ë, which changed the value of œ, then the only difference from the AHD is the addition of a-dot. This is not a significant difference from the AHD, which for English words is identical to the EnRP. Adding one symbol to the AHD and giving it a different name is IMO plagiarism. We should call it like it is: AHD. kwami (talk) 02:21, 13 January 2009 (UTC)
I've deleted the unused a-dot and moved the key to Wikipedia:American Heritage Dictionary representation, where it belongs: We don't want to be constantly messing with the system, and failure to acknowledge that it's AHD is plagiarism. kwami (talk) 09:41, 16 January 2009 (UTC)
Now I'm confused. If you can't copyright a transcription system, then using it is not copyright infringement, right? (This is distinct from duplicating the dictionary's documentation, which would be.) But I presume that American Heritage Dictionary is a trademark. It's good form to credit the AHD as the source, but it may not be advisable just to slap their name on our system, which could be inferred as a some sort of direct contribution or endorsement. Michael Z. 2009-01-16 20:12 z
That's a question for the legal folks, but it is their system, so calling it something else to avoid trademark seems like sophistry. Also "AHD" itself does not appear to be trademarked. As such, I don't see much diff between it and "IPA", but I'll ask at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (trademarks). kwami (talk) 20:47, 16 January 2009 (UTC)
According to HM's website,[1] only "American Heritage" is trademarked. kwami (talk) 01:09, 20 January 2009 (UTC)
So did the legal folks say that an abbreviation of American Heritage Dictionary doesn't infringe on the trademark American Heritage? Michael Z. 2009-01-20 15:12 z
Haven't heard back. I've also written to Houghton-Mifflin to get their take on this. AFAIK, an abbreviation is not a trademark infringement. For example, anyone is free to use "Webster's Dictionary", since the trademark is only for "Merriam-Webster's". I think it's parallel to "IPA", which is (I believe) an abbreviation of a trademarked name but freely used. kwami (talk) 19:53, 20 January 2009 (UTC)
That's not really the same. “Webster's” passed into the public domain a long time ago. But I wouldn't just assume that one could get away with publishing a dictionary called Amer. Her. Dict'y or Merriam-W's Word Book without hearing from some lawyers. Our usage is somewhere in the grey area between these examples.
The IPA is a scholarly organization which “provides the academic community world-wide with a notational standard” to “promote the scientific study of phonetics”.[2] I didn't find any specific licensing information on their site, but they clearly want people to use IPA. Houghton–Mifflin is a for-profit publisher, we're not clear on the copyright and licensing issues here, and we don't know what the corporation's opinion of this would be. Contacting them is the right thing to do.
I also imagine that if we can use their transcription system with their name, there is an obligation to treat it as a standard and not alter it. Michael Z. 2009-01-20 22:38 z
There's a big difference between claiming a name for one's own, and using the name to credit the proper owners. The key is legal, and the transcriptions are legal, so I can't imagine crediting AHD as the developers of the system would be infringement.
For all EncycloPetey's drama, it would be easy enough to make a user-friendly Wikimedia variant. The breves and macrons are ubiquitous; using French â for the low back vowel and maintaining phonemic vowels before r (like ēr for AHD îr—something which AFAIK none of the dictionaries do consistently) would avoid any plagiarism issues. But oh well. kwami (talk) 23:40, 20 January 2009 (UTC)

Proposed US School transcription

(cont. from previous discussion)

Here's a possible school-dictionary transcription. There's very little that's specifically AHD (only the ûr, actually) or any other dictionary, so there's no concern over copyright. Plus it's phonemic, and also browser friendly, only using the basic ISO range of Unicode plus schwa.

User:Kwamikagami/American dictionary transcription

kwami (talk) 12:49, 4 February 2009 (UTC)

Systems like the one above look "sort of ok" if seen in a list as above. Applied to real words, they become awkward quickly. To judge we should at least respell all the example words completely. I did a few to start. −Woodstone (talk) 14:46, 4 February 2009 (UTC)

Some more examples of how this works out. My guess would be that most people would get many of them wrong by using just intuition. −Woodstone (talk) 15:06, 4 February 2009 (UTC)

word pronunciation
made mād
believe bēlēv
wine wīn
hide hīd
ball bôl
lure loor
though dhō
badge băj
worse wûrs
bear băr bār
Wouldn't that be bear – bĕr?
Actually, it's \bār\, to people who make the distinction. (I've seen the slashes reversed in dictionaries. Don't know if that's an error, or a signal that this isn't the IPA.) kwami (talk)
How about a middle dot ( · U+00B7) for syllabification? It's more compact, and used in many dictionaries. There's also a dedicated hyphenation point ( ‧ U+2027), but I don't think we need to require it. Michael Z. 2009-02-04 17:37 z
Yeah, I like the middle dot. (Best to stick to ISO characters, no U+2000 range.)
Woodstone, the point is that a couple hundred million people have been raised on systems like this. They're used in Webster's, Random House, & American Heritage dictionaries, among many others. I'm not expecting people unfamiliar with it to recognize it; it's intended for people who already know it and don't know the IPA—like the people who are constantly complaining that the IPA is gibberish to them, and why don't we use "normal" transcriptions like they see in dictionaries. The only thing that might throw people is the ûr, if they're not familiar with the AHD, and the dh, if they're not familiar with the Compact Oxford and a couple others. The point of the dh is to avoid soft formatting distinctions (like italics) that would get lost when copied & pasted, or non-ISO characters (like strike-through slashes) that won't display properly without the proper fonts. kwami (talk) 22:23, 4 February 2009 (UTC)
(I seem to remember ä, ö, ü from my grade-school dictionaries, but not â, ô, û.) I agree that it's best if the system relies on the character values, and not on any formatting. The nasals -ăⁿ, -eⁿ, -oⁿ, which use a superscript n (U+207F) are preferable to HTML <sup> elements or italics, which may be lost in a cut-and-paste or save as text. I also don't mind AHD's distinction using small capitals, which can remain within the ISO range. By the way, does a double under-tie work on a variety of platforms: c͜h, h͜w, n͜g, o͜o, o͜y, o͜w, s͜h, t͜h, d͜h, z͜h?
Frankly, no one learned “this system” – they only used it with a reference. We are including this to because it is comfortable, not because it's any easier than phonological IPA. We've documented at least 14 such systems (it occurs to me that they exist because they are proprietary—I presume each publisher developed their own to avoid the accusation of plagiarism, and that possibility a good reason for us not to rely on AHD's system). Michael Z. 2009-02-04 23:02 z
The underties etc. are supported by all platforms, but not by all fonts, and many people don't have the proper fonts installed. I suggested on Wiktionary that they stop using SAMPA, and was told that they need to keep it for just this reason. Evidently the computer terminals in the UC Berkeley library do not support IPA! Pity someone trying to use a public computer at a less progressive institution. And people have complained that the Wiktionary oo-bar and oo-breve do not display properly.
I never learned 'ä' etc. in school, but my main concern was confusion with the German umlaut. People might expect 'ä' to be 'ĕ'. The 'â', on the other hand, is used with that value in French and several other languages, and parallels 'ô', which is used in several US dictionaries. 'ûr' is only used in AHD, but I couldn't think of anything better. ('ər' with a stress mark hits problems when people neglect to mark stress. And it's not always reduced, but has the same range as 'ŭ' vs. 'ə'.) kwami (talk)
By the way, is there a reason to stick to ISO and not use the Unicode range? There's some technical confusion between ISO and the rip-off Windows encoding anyway, and I don't believe the following characters are represented in ISO-8859-1 at all: ă, ā, ĕ, ē, ə, ĭ, ī, ŏ, ō, ŭ, ū. Michael Z. 2009-02-04 23:18 z
I believe they are supported by enough fonts that nearly every computer will come with a supporting font installed. The same is not true of the IPA, higher Unicode ranges, or the Wiktionary rendition of AHD. kwami (talk) 23:24, 4 February 2009 (UTC)
All those letters display properly in my copy of IE. I tried a schwa-dot for schwi, but only got a box. Right now I have a small cap bar-I, <ᵻ>. Does that display properly for everyone? kwami (talk) 10:37, 15 February 2009 (UTC)
Both schwa + combining dot above (ə̇) and small cap I with stroke (ᵻ) work in the default configuration of Safari/Mac and Firefox/Mac. In Safari, the small slashed I matches the sans-serif capital, so it doesn't have the serifs. Michael Z. 2009-02-15 19:58 z
Another editor said he had problems with it, so I subbed a cross-bar diacritic which he said he could read. I put it up at Wikipedia:United States dictionary transcription, with a template {{USdict}}. There are only a couple dozen articles linked to it, so it will be easy to update if we decide to change anything. kwami (talk) 01:43, 16 February 2009 (UTC)
This here: < ɪ̵ >? It fails to display on the Mac; details at Wikipedia_talk:United_States_dictionary_transcriptionMichael Z. 2009-02-16 16:46 z

Shouldn't we be deleting Wikipedia:Pronunciation respelling key now? The transcription domain is becoming overcrowded. The newly proposed scheme has a pleasantly consistent feel, but I am totally thrown off by <bare>=|bār|. That cannot be right. It should be |bĕr| or |băr|. And it's a pity that |tūn| makes it unusable for UK-en, where it would be |tyūn|?. −Woodstone (talk) 08:53, 16 February 2009 (UTC)

A lot of people use respellings, though most of them probably aren't very consistent. It probably wouldn't be too much trouble to switch over the ones that are linked.
/mĕr′·ē/ is 'merry', and /măr′·ē/ is 'marry', so how would we transcribe 'Mary' if not /mār′·ē/? Unless we want to have separate sets of vowels before /r/ than before other consonants.
/tūn/ works just fine for UK English. Dew is /dū/ and do is /dōō/; if you don't make that distinction, then just ignore it. kwami (talk) 09:20, 16 February 2009 (UTC)
Mary is different because it should be analysed as |mā′·rē|. Pronouncing a true |ā| before r in a closed syllable is near impossible. Can you think of any closed rhotic minimal pair with |ā| and |ǎ|? And should we advise on a bracket style? We should not overload /.../. −Woodstone (talk) 10:38, 16 February 2009 (UTC)
\ăr\ (Webster's uses back slashes) does not occur in closed syllables. Nor does \ĕr\, outside Scottish English. So English phonotactics prevents minimal pairs. Are you saying there is a four-way contrast, merry, marry, Mary, and mare?
You're arguing phonetic detail. Pronouncing a true \l\ at the end of a syllable is nearly impossible to many English speakers too, but that doesn't mean that dark el should be written with a distinct symbol. To me, at least, the \ā\ in \ār\ is as close to \ā\ in isolation as many other \āC\ sequences are. For instance, the a of bare is closer to the a of bane than it is to the a of bale, but I wouldn't argue for a special symbol for long a before el. Similarly, I'm happy to accept \bōl\ for bole, and \wôl\ for wall, though for me bole should have the \ô\, not wall. Likewise, the vowels of bide and bite are entirely different to my ears, but I'm not going to be confused by writing them both \ī\.
The OED and Random House both propose the same vowel for bare and mare that they do for Mary.
If we do choose a different transcription, I'd go with \ăr\, because AFAIK that won't cause any confusion, whereas \ĕr\ is distinct in Scottish, as well as in unassimilated French loans.
I'm not sure about using different slashes. People are confused enough with different stress-mark placement, without us getting dyslexic on the slashes. (The pipes are used for morphophonemic transcriptions, which these are not.) All forward slashes mean is that the transcription is phonemic; the symbols used for the phonemes are really irrelevant. You can use suits of cards, and the slashes would still be appropriate. kwami (talk) 11:03, 16 February 2009 (UTC)
This still shares many symbols with IPA, and many readers may have trouble differentiating the two in isolation. There should be some convention which unambiguously differentiates it from IPA. I'm okay with backslashes since there's a precedent, but we could also consider something with a clearer contrast. Michael Z. 2009-02-16 17:00 z
Currently it's underlined (from the link, suppressed for the IPA) and has no set-off marks. That makes it look pretty distinct to me. kwami (talk)
Using "bare"=\bǎr\ (no need for "parry" anymore) would make the system clearer for me. That actually does not preclude "mary"=\mārē\. The vowels with diacritics are distinguished from normal spelling, and as such unambiguous. It would be more consistent to spell \ôy\ and \ŏŏr\. Especially \ow\ is problematic as it could easily be taken as the vowel in "low". How about using \âw\ instead? With these additions, no vowels can be mistaken for their normal equivalents, which can be most confusing in existing words. −Woodstone (talk) 21:48, 16 February 2009 (UTC)
The overuse of diacritics can also cause confusion. I don't think "oy" would ever be misread. I agree that ow is problematic, however, though several dictionaries use aw for our ô, so that's a potential problem with our using âw. As for oor, one could argue it is closer to ōōr because it's a long vowel. But since the distinction is neutralized before r, the point is moot.
What do people think of <ăr> (not *<ǎr>) and <âw> or <ăw>? kwami (talk) 01:36, 17 February 2009 (UTC)
On the screen, háček and breve can be indistinguishable from each other, so I would vote against adding <ǎr> to this system.
I haven't proposed using a hacek. kwami (talk)
I can't say much about the other suggestions, because for me merry and Mary are identical, and marry doesn't have to differ at all except to clarify the distinction from the other two – using the diphthong symbol \ā\ for any of these seems quite wrong. The vowel in bear and bare is the same, a short e and not any kind of aMichael Z. 2009-02-17 02:31 z
But we shouldn't be transcribing your dialect specifically. If we extended the same courtesy to others, the transcription would quickly become useless: We'd have to drop h, th, dh, ng, wh, final l, final r, half the vowels, and who knows what else. All of us are going to have pronunciations that differ from a common standard. Londoners might object to having an r in bare at all. We have three combinations that you pronounce [er], and need three transcriptions for them. All the reader needs to know is a key word that uses that symbol, and to pronounce the word in question that way. kwami (talk) 08:35, 17 February 2009 (UTC)

I changed Haumea, Makemake, and Eris from respellings to this transcription, and relegated it to a footnote. See how it looks.

A serious objection to the "âw" proposal: the whole point of this is to use letters and digraphs familiar from English orthography. /aʊ/ is not spelled "aw" in any common English word. We're basically left with "ow" and "ou", with or without diacritics. Likewise, V plus silent e typically is written with a macron, and this works as well for bare → ā as for made → ā. kwami (talk) 12:02, 17 February 2009 (UTC)

It does not work well for "bare", since that has a different sound (OED gives /bɛː/). Would you also like to spell "are"=\ār\, or would that be \âr\? Agree that \oy\ would not easily be mispronounced. For the sound in "how", using \ou\ without diacritics is dangerous because of "thou", "through", "though", "rough" etc. Similarly \ow\ is confusing because of "how and "low". At least adding a diacritic would avoid taking it for a "normal" spelling. So we are left with \ŏu\, \ŏw\ or \ŏŭ\. Perhaps the latter is best, because it uses only modified vowel symbols. That makes it "how"=\hŏŭ\, "low"=\lōw\ −13:53, 17 February 2009 (UTC)
Yes, are would be \âr\.
Like every other vowel in English, the pronunciation of \ā\ is affected by the following consonant. The effect of \r\ is especially great, but every consonant affects vowels to some extent. For example, the effect of a voiceless consonant on \ī\ is so great that it's marginally phonemic. For another, \sp, st, sk\ are pronounced exactly the same: they're all [s] followed by silence. They're distinguished purely by their effects on the following vowel. In my dialect, writer and rider are distinguished solely by vowel quality. But I have no trouble understanding a transcription of \rītər\ and \rīdər\. \l\ affects \ō\ to the extent that I would confuse it with \ô\. Etc. There are different effects in different dialects, so we can't go with a narrow phonetic transcription. Bare has the same vowel as Mary, according to Chambers as well as to the OED. In fact, both Chambers and the 5th ed. of the Concise Oxford use <ā> for both made and bare: <mād, bār>, despite the fact that the difference is especially strong in non-rhotic dialects.
<ŏŭ> is starting to overload the system with diacritics again. A third grader will understand <ow> (I mean literally: the system is taught in the first grade). Yes, low has that digraph with a different pronunciation, but the same argument could be made for every single unaccented letter in the chart, like Shaw's ghoti for "fish". And then there's allow with the same low sequence using our pronunciation. Dictionaries haven't had problems with this, or they would have come up with something else. If there's a particularly confusing word, such as bow \bow\ vs. bow \bō\, we can always be explicit with it: "bow \bow\, rhymes with 'cow'." kwami (talk) 22:58, 17 February 2009 (UTC)
I do not understand the resistance against "bare"=\băr\ or \bĕr\, which can be analysed as ă+r or ĕ+r coming much closer to the correct pronunciation than \bār\, especially when analysed as ā+r.
In the current proposal, \oor\, \oy\, \ow\ contain the only unaccented vowels. So you can hardly call it overloading when these acquire accents as well. For \ŏŏr\ that is just a matter of consistency with \ŏŏ\ (I cannot see a reason to leave off those accents). If you write "low"=\lō\ (not \lōw\), then having "how"=\how\ lacks logic. The most occurring spelling for the /aʊ/ sound is "ou", so a marked variant of that still seems best to me. Since \ŏ\ is already used for /ɒ/ (a sound somewhat similar to /a/), there is some logic in \ŏu\ or \ŏŭ\.
By the way, why call it explicitly US? It may be most current there, but it could actually be made an almost one-to-one translation of IPA. Actually it would be best if there were rigid rules to convert {{IPA-en}} to this one. −Woodstone (talk) 23:58, 17 February 2009 (UTC)
Do you have an example of where <ow> or <ou> would be confusing? I'd rather stick to the conventions people are used to unless there's a reason to change. People are used to <ow> and <ou>; <ŏŭ> is a novel combination that is likely to throw them. One more odd symbol that needs memorization.
The spelling \ow\ would be confusing in words like "out"=\owt\ which have a pattern that never occurs in English orthography. The reverse problem for "how"=\hou\ is less serious. −Woodstone (talk) 22:57, 26 February 2009 (UTC)
\ăr\ and \ĕr\ are short vowels. Bare has a long vowel. As I see it, the only appropriate long vowel is \ā\. That's also the decision reached by Chamber's & Oxford. Do you have a particular reason for abandoning it, other than the fact that the phonetic correlation isn't the best in your dialect? Because whatever you choose won't be a particularly good match in someone else's dialect.
We could leave the diacritics on boor, but they would be \ōōr\ (as in Chamber's & Oxford), since that is also a long vowel. Long vowels are lowered before \r\, but that is phonetic detail, like the difference between light & dark \l\. kwami (talk) 08:26, 18 February 2009 (UTC)
My perception is coloured by the fact that in my language distinction of /er/ and /ɛr/ is phonemic (not allophones). So any representation that annihilates the distinction sounds very wrong. I have the same problem (in other discussions) with /a/ and /ɑ/, an opposition found in only few languages. −Woodstone (talk) 11:21, 18 February 2009 (UTC)
For me the distinction isn't phonemic, but for those to whom it is, bare is something like a long [ɛːr] or [ɛər], and therefore as much like [eː] as it is like [ɛ]. /r/ lowers all vowels, so /oːr/ comes out [ɔər], /iːr/ comes out [ɪər], etc. You get the same schwa between long vowels and /l/, tho w/o the lowering: /iːl/ comes out as [iəl], /eːl/ as [eəl], etc. So /eːr/ as [ɛər] is completely regular. This is an orthography-based transcription that's familiar to kids, and usually isn't something that makes much sense to 2nd-language speakers. kwami (talk) 13:42, 18 February 2009 (UTC)

Compare the (older) EOD system

The Oxford Concise dictionary used to have the following system:

  • ā ē ī ō ū (mate, mete, mite, mote, mute, moot)
  • ǎ ě ǐ ǒ ǔ (rack, reck, rick, rock, ruck, rook)
  • āṝ, ēṝ, īṝ, ōṝ, ūṝ (mare, mere, mire, more, mure)
  • âr, êr, ôr (part, pert, port)
  • ah, aw, oi, oor, ow, owr (bah, bawl, boil, boor, brow, bower)

Woodstone (talk) 23:06, 26 February 2009 (UTC)

You left out moot, rook. kwami (talk) 03:38, 27 February 2009 (UTC)

Audio recordings

I was wondering if there was a project to add small audio samples to articles that would benefit from them. I mean an article discussing subtleties of pronunciation (like the one I read now, Hiberno-English) would be much easier to follow if I could listen to the examples. This would open these articles up to a much larger audience. --CyHawk (talk) 18:57, 5 May 2009 (UTC)

People are working on audio for many articles, but I don't know if there's an overall project. It would require having speakers of the dialect in question. kwami (talk) 07:35, 19 May 2009 (UTC)

IPA criticism

My guess is that no more than one in ten thousand college-degreed Americans understands even what the International Phonetic Alphabet IS -- and that many fewer of those understands the IPA esoteric code [Yes, it IS a code, meant to be all-but-understandable by other than the IPA elite (obviously, a very small group. While IPA mavens may insist that ALL US college graduates PERMANENTLY memorize a very complicated code that is useful maybe once in every year, or two, or ten. It is quite stupid for any individual to do so --


I think it would be EXTREMELY helpful if there was a link following the IPA pronunciation "language" that provided an audio version of the pronunciation. It would be great if we ALL knew perfectly KNEW, memorized, had no doubts AT ALL about the IPA pronumciation language. Some questions from an intelligent person,

Even most quite intelligent people have trouble understanding the IPA "language". And even if they DO, they will have the VERY LIMITED understanding of ONE --ONE, ONLY ONE pronunciation of the word in question

It is probably a VERY nice thing for YOU (those who make policy and position decisions for Wikipedia) to have ALL definitions, it could have these characteristics:

  • It could be triggered by a visual link like [audio] or [hear] (crude, I know; any reasonably well-known link technologies might be appropriate.
  • It could be encoded in mp3 (for maximum effectiveness over the installed worldwide base of computer users) or oog (if necessary for legal reasons).
  • For storage and bandwidth efficiency, it could be provided at speech-compatible bit rates (20-60 kbps?).
  • The audio files would be completely different for each language, of course (Wikipedia already provides this differentiation).
  • For widely-spoken, highly-diversified languages (there are many), the audio file would contain multiple pronunciations in the various regional/social accents/dialects.
  • The order of the various pronunciations would be set by the population numbers using that variation.
  • For example, for English language versions of Wikipedia:
    • "Middle American" English (known sometimes as "American Standard Stage English" would be the first pronunciation;
    • "Standard Stage British" would be the second in the order of audio snippets.
    • Other regional and social dialects would also be presented in their order of popularity
    • Other regional dialects of English in the US, the UK, Oceana, South Africa, English as spoken in Oceana, South Africa, India, and other areas would be presented according to the popularity of their usage.
  • The complexity of sampling, classifying, storing, and present

BTW, the common pronunciation for "fuh-kweu" is —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:32, 11 December 2009 (UTC)

That sounds really difficult to pull off and enforce. You might want to check out this discussion about plans to utilize the mouseover feature. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɻɛ̃ⁿdˡi] 01:50, 12 December 2009 (UTC)

Not indicating language

I'm having a dispute at Joseph Beuys, which has the German pronunciation of his name, with an editor who argues that there is no such thing, as personal names are pronounced the same in all languages, and that we cannot name the language. So he changes the {{IPA-de}} template to {{IPA-all}} (arguing that the "all" means "all languages equally", not "all other languages".) He feels very strongly about this, whereas I feel just as strongly that we shouldn't imply that a pronunciation is English when it is not. Does anyone here agree with him? kwami (talk) 07:35, 19 May 2009 (UTC)

Do we need to tell people how to say George W. Bush?

I noticed the IPA template was in use on Bush's page. Seemed unnecessary to me, so I questioned its need here. Feel free to weigh in. Are there any guidelines anywhere on when not to include a pronunciation? Flowerparty 23:05, 29 June 2009 (UTC)

There are no real guidelines. Generally if you can expect the reader to find the relevant pronunciation in a readily accessible dictionary (i.e., don't expect them to have access to the OED or a medical dictionary), then we shouldn't include it here, per WP:dictionary. Personal names, however, can be a problem. Okay, in Bush's case everyone knows that his name is pronounced like the word bush, but in general that's not something that the reader can take for granted. What I've typically seen is that pronunciations for personal and place names that are written as common words are only provided when they aren't as written. However, sometimes there's a better-known name that isn't pronounced as expected, so when one comes along that is, that is itself unusual and needs to be pointed out. kwami (talk) 00:50, 30 June 2009 (UTC)
You lost me with that last sentence. Are you saying we only need to give a pronunciation for something like Cholmondeley? I'd agree with you that it's appropriate there. Flowerparty 01:19, 30 June 2009 (UTC)
I meant that sometimes a name is pronounced just like what it looks like, but that we still need to transcribe it. For example, if someone named Menzies pronounced their name "men-zeez", we would need to say that, because normally it's pronounced "ming-iss". In the case of Bush, I could imagine a non-native speaker trying to learn the presidents of the US, and being confused by which are pronounced as they're spelled, and which aren't. I don't feel strongly either way in this case. kwami (talk) 01:45, 30 June 2009 (UTC)
Gotcha, yeah it makes sense there. Is it likely that a non-native speaker would be trawling the English wikipedia to find out how to pronounce the name of each US president? Is this information not better suited to foreign language wikipedias? It seems to me that we're catering to minute contingencies by including a pronunciation everywhere on the off-chance that someone might find it useful. Another one that seems like overkill to me is with US states - every one has its name transliterated in IPA in the opening sentence. To me this is only necessary for Connecticut, Arkansas, maybe Michigan, possibly Illinois and a couple of others. Flowerparty 01:58, 30 June 2009 (UTC)
The non-native english speakers in my office frequent websites that have pronunciation guides for various names. I caught one of them using the Bush website for just that purpose some time back because he was having trouble with part of Bush's name. A good number of people can read english but have trouble speaking it and further there are various accents of the English language, so given that its not hurting anything I'm inclined to keep it. RTRimmel (talk) 03:08, 30 June 2009 (UTC)
With George Bush specifically, I think it's silly to have a pronunciation indicator. Neither his first or last name are words that have alternate pronunciations. He's also extremely well-known so that the overwhelming majority of readers will have heard his name pronounced.
When there's a name with an intuitive looking pronunciation that has a possibility of mispronunciation (such as Yankovic), I don't see a problem with a pronunciation indicator. There's probably a fuzzy line somewhere, but George Bush is definitely not near that line. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɻɛ̃ⁿdˡi] 03:40, 30 June 2009 (UTC)
Yeah. It's clearly unnecessary in this case. That said, as people have suggested above, it often is useful for personal names, and if someone's just been a bit over-zealous in this case, let's not sweat it. It causes very little harm. garik (talk) 09:05, 30 June 2009 (UTC)
Hm. Hush, lush, mush, push - native speakers of English can't help underestimate the difficulties others have with pronunciation. Enki H. (talk) 13:32, 30 June 2009 (UTC)
A fair point. I say err on the side of inclusion. garik (talk) 14:17, 30 June 2009 (UTC)

I didn't mean to spark off the same discussion in two places (my fault for picking such an irresistible section header, I guess). I think this discussion shows that we maybe should have a couple of sentences on this page indicating when a pronunciation is and isn't appropriate. Not sure we'd agree on a guideline at the minute though. Seems we have two approaches:

  1. If unclear, assume that it's appropriate to give a pronunciation
  2. If unclear, assume that it isn't

My feeling is that approach number 1, though well-intentioned, is misguided for our purposes. As Aeusoes has pointed out over there, it is outside the remit of an encyclopedia to act as English-language tutor to the unsteady learner. Essentially, wikipedia is not a dictionary. If we err on the side of inclusion we're bringing a lot of clutter into the opening sentences of articles that - while maybe not to a significant degree on its own, but these things are cumulative - does impede the reader's ability to read the sentence. This obviously isn't true of visitors to this page, but /nˈɜːrzi/ (About this sound listen) is meaningless to many. And anyway I don't think we should be asking ourselves "what's the harm?" - that kind of thinking leads to the inclusion of all kinds of whistles and gadgets and unnecessary trivia and decoration. Rather we should ask "what's the use?" If the answer is "it might help someone learning English", I may concede that that's a possibility, but we are not Rosetta Stone. I think we have to assume competence, and use the IPA sparingly. We should leave the pronunciation info for obvious words to wiktionary and to foreign language wikipedias. Flowerparty 16:43, 30 June 2009 (UTC)

Here's another point that's worth considering. If we include a pronunciation only for exotic spellings and for instances where the pronunciation cannot be intuited from the spelling (as with Yankovic), the presence of the IPA template nicely alerts the reader that the pronunciation is not standard. If we're going to include a pronunciation routinely for all names however (as seems to be the preference of some of the commenters above), then our readers are likely to start filtering out this information (in the same way I filter out the chinese script in articles on Chinese topics) and missing the non-standard pronunciations all together. Flowerparty 19:03, 30 June 2009 (UTC)
The problem with that logic is that as a native speaker of American English, I largly ignore the IPA anyway. I know how to pronounce virtually any word in the english language at a casual glance. However, I am aware of a signifigant number of non-native english speakers who, when reading articles on various subjects, cannot pronounce the words correctly and utilize the IPA to learn the correct pronounciation. Removing it from the article forces them to bop around the net for a correct pronounciation until they find it. I know you are making the argument that it adds bells and whistles and is meaningless to many, however the people who find it useful know what it is and adding a link to a short ogg file is as difficult as adding a picture to a page for a modern web browser. So in short, until MOS has a valid guideline as to what constitutes a requirement for IPA useage, I think we need to err on the side of including them because a solid percentage of our readers actually use them. Perhaps declaring that the prounciation is non-stardard in the IPA description would be easiest. RTRimmel (talk) 13:09, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
Right, that's why I'm suggesting we draw up some guidelines. You still haven't addressed why it's appropriate in an English-language encyclopdedia to routinely give a pronunciation key for English words. We could include a version of the article's title in semaphore or morse code and I bet more people would learn how to wave flags, but we don't because that's going beyond what's required of an encyclopedia. Flowerparty 18:51, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
Hammer has a picture of a hammer. I'm going to argue that everyone knows what a hammer looks like. Wheat has a picture of corn. I'm going to argue that everyone knows what corn looks like. Cat has a picture of a cat. And so on. Are we are going to argue why it is appropriate in an English-language encyclopdedia to routinely give a picture for common English words. No, because its what a modern encyclopedia is for and it is both what is required and expected of it. Adding in a prounciation guide is as useful to our readers as adding in those pictures. Unless there is a wikipedia based issue in terms of architecture or bandwidth, I argue to keep them. RTRimmel (talk) 19:29, 3 July 2009 (UTC)
Glossing over temporarily the apples-oranges problem, most of those pictures are combined with details that complicate more basic understandings of the subject or augment visually what is being described in nearby prose. So the picture of the hammer says it's a "modern claw hammer" something not obvious to those with only basic knowledge about hammers. The cat pictures illustrate social and biological aspects of the cats and the wheat pictures (other than the three that just say "wheat") show specific non-obvious details about wheat. We also have guidelines for images (WP:IMAGES and WP:CAPTIONS) that elaborate on what's appropriate.
However, images and pronunciation guides are two completely different things, certainly enough that we can come up with different policies on them.
It seems that you're arguing that "obviousness" should be the criterion that we use to measure the appropriateness of including pronunciation. However, another important factor is clutter within article prose. As mentioned above, putting pronunciation in article prose even when it's not an unusual spelling will prompt readers (especially those who have difficulty with the IPA) to ignore the IPA even when the word has a non-obvious pronunciation. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɻɛ̃ⁿdˡi] 20:15, 3 July 2009 (UTC)
You seem to be reiterating the first point of the FAQ at the top of the discussion page. I'd comment further, but it does a better job of summing up why we don't do this than I would. Aside from that, I'm simply arguing the opposite than obviousness. I'm arguing that if its worthwhile to include a picture for everything, its worthwhile to include a pronunciation guide for everything as well. To you it adds clutter, to me many of the pages are already cluttered beyond a reasonable level and so it doesn't significantly impact my reading of the page. RTRimmel (talk) 01:39, 4 July 2009 (UTC)
The FAQ item is in reference to criticism that we shouldn't use IPA at all because many people aren't familiar with it. I'm not arguing that. While there's a sound rejection of that argument, it doesn't mean we have to be dismissive of people who have difficulty with IPA. This is part of the reason editors are working on making language-specific IPA guides and making them accessible to readers unfamiliar with the IPA or with the particular languages.
In regards to clutter, it seems as though you're throwing your hands up in the air and saying "well, it's already a mess so we shouldn't try making things better." I think moving the pronunciations to the infobox (something I'm open to even with obvious pronunciations) will be beneficial to the casual reader while still being helpful to those you've argued would benefit from the pronunciation. If we overdo it in the prose, then it can cause many readers to gloss over pronunciations (which several people here have admitted they do) and nullify the point of having them in the first place. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɻɛ̃ⁿdˡi] 03:08, 4 July 2009 (UTC)

We could consider moving the IPA to the Infobox instead, to address the "desensitization" and cluttering concerns. Eg. right beneath the birthname. Enki H. (talk) 14:16, 1 July 2009 (UTC)

The language infobox allows for that option. That sounds reasonable. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɻɛ̃ⁿdˡi] 15:35, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
We could, but that's just shifting the clutter elsewhere. Most infoboxes are too busy anyway. Flowerparty 18:51, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
In effect, the infoboxes act as raw data that users can access if they choose to. I tend to ignore the infoboxes unless there's specific information I want to find (where is this language spoken? when was this individual born? when was this city founded? etc). Since the argument for the pronunciation is that some users find it helpful (much like other information in the infobox), and infoboxes aren't supposed to be uncluttered anyway, moving the pronunciation to the side to ease the clutter for the casual reader seems like a good idea. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɻɛ̃ⁿdˡi] 23:39, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
Although I'm guilty of some of the mess, I agree that multiple IPA pronunciations, or even names and transcriptions in multiple languages without the IPA, can be a distraction at the beginning of an article. The moons, planets, stars, and constellations now have an IPA slot in their info boxes, which I think is appropriate, but there's always footnotes.
One thing to consider with infoboxes: I've been cleaning up a lot of the entries with AWB (like people who transcribe sound-alikes and call it the IPA). This is possible in part because I can search within templates that contain "IPA". However, if the IPA is moved within an infobox, I don't know how to search them without sweeping up everything in the infobox, which means maintenance could become a problem. That's perhaps an argument for redesigning AWB, but that could take a while, if it ever happens. kwami (talk) 19:09, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
Couldn't the way around that problem be making it so that the pronunciation element of the infobox doesn't automatically assume IPA encoding so that users have to use {{IPA}}? It also allows for respelling pronunciations, which MOS says we can put alongside IPA. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɻɛ̃ⁿdˡi] 23:39, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
Yes, that would be good, because even within the IPA it would force association with the proper language. However, AFAIK it wouldn't solve the AWB problem unless options are added to that program. kwami (talk) 00:06, 4 July 2009 (UTC)
Infoboxes are not dumping grounds for trivia which has been moved out of the article body. The use of the lede for IPA text is well-established. Chris Cunningham (not at work) - talk 15:22, 11 December 2009 (UTC)
But pronunciation isn't useless trivia. It's actually vey common to put pronunciation in infoboxes. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɻɛ̃ⁿdˡi] 23:04, 11 December 2009 (UTC)
Not in my experience. However, the discussion above is not about adding it to the infobox so much as moving it to the infobox. That's what's inappropriate. Chris Cunningham (not at work) - talk 00:41, 12 December 2009 (UTC)
Well it is in my experience. You seem to be assuming that people wish to move it to the infobox because it's not notable enough when moving to the infobox reduces clutter in the prose. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɻɛ̃ⁿdˡi] 01:44, 12 December 2009 (UTC)
It doesn't concern me why people want to move it, but that they want to move it at all. Infoboxes should not contain unique information; the article body should be comprehensive. I don't have a problem in theory with IPA information being duplicated in infoboxes, but that's not what the discussion above seems to be about. Chris Cunningham (not at work) - talk 10:50, 12 December 2009 (UTC)
Well, I'm sorry to inform you that infoboxes often do contain unique information. Would you like examples? — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɻɛ̃ⁿdˡi] 19:51, 12 December 2009 (UTC)
Then it's those examples which should be corrected. Chris Cunningham (not at work) - talk 18:14, 15 December 2009 (UTC)
It's very common for languages to have details about their classification in the infobox but not the article prose. This includes ISO language codes and the specific language family information. For example, Amuzgo, Awngi language, Atsugewi, Atikamekw language, Assiniboine language, Apurinã language, Albanian, and Äynu language. That's just the A's, too.
Still not convinced? How about some listed good articles? Like Mongolian language, Ottawa, Toki Pona, Wagiman, and Sinhala script.
Still not convinced? How about some listed featured articles? There's Gwoyeu Romatzyh, Mayan languages, Nafaanra, Nahuatl, Rongorongo, Swedish language, Tamil, and Turkish language.
You should see that this is neither uncommon nor unacceptable. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɻɛ̃ⁿdˡi] 19:27, 15 December 2009 (UTC)

Broken Link

The link in the "see also" section to is broken. The main IPA page (the link target) currently contains none of the information supposedly linked to. Maybe the link should be to instead, because that seems to be where the information is now. MichealT (talk) 20:44, 29 March 2010 (UTC)

Rationalising the two pronunciation MoS pages

Dear colleagues: I have suggested that the IPA vs other IPA vs other proununciation symbols subpage be merged into this one. Is there any reason this should not be done? The Styleguide Taskforce is conducting a program of rationalising the styleguides for the sake of editors; MoS is currently a sprawling mass of overlapping pages. Tony (talk) 13:12, 5 April 2010 (UTC)

That's just a key to various US dictionaries. If we merge here, the IPA needs to be adjusted to match what we use, such as /hw/ for /ʍ/, which has been systematically removed from WP articles. Mostly a matter of using RP vowels. I'll go ahead and do that.
We have another page somewhere which covers the same material, how to convert US dict transcription to IPA. kwami (talk) 14:00, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
You don't remember where that is, either? Did we even finish that project? — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 19:30, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
Well, there's Pronunciation respelling for English in main article space. kwami (talk) 20:19, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
No, I was thinking Help:IPA conventions for English (I found the link in this archived discussion. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 05:56, 6 April 2010 (UTC)
Okay, that too! That page is an orphan. kwami (talk) 14:42, 6 April 2010 (UTC)
  • This sounds most encouraging, unlike the resistance we've encountered in some outlying pages. Can I leave it to you experts to prepare the way? Thank you. Tony (talk) 15:41, 6 April 2010 (UTC)
    • Any luck getting this proposal moving? Can I simply copy the "IPA vs. other pronunciation symbols" page text into a new section at the bottom of this one, and remove the "IPA vs. other pronunciation symbols" from the style-guide category? Tony (talk) 09:08, 24 April 2010 (UTC)
IMO, it doesn't belong here because it isn't a style guide. I would think it belongs in help space. Actually, it's just a fork for Pronunciation respelling for English. Is there any reason not to just delete it, and redirect the MOS to mainspace?
Help:IPA conventions for English, on the other hand, could perhaps be merged here, if the resulting article isn't too long. Probably best, actually, as more people are likely to see it, and therefore transcribe into IPA more consistently. kwami (talk) 09:51, 24 April 2010 (UTC)

MoS naming style

There is currently an ongoing discussion about the future of this and others MoS naming style. Please consider the issues raised in the discussion and vote if you wish GnevinAWB (talk) 20:57, 25 April 2010 (UTC)

new section

Per a request on my page, I created a new section on how to use our templates, IPA templates on Wikipedia. Some of the details, such as how to tag incorrect IPA, are my assumptions, so please correct me if you feel these are not good guidelines. Also, it's a bit late, so the section might need to be reworded for legibility/accessibility even if you agree with my approach, or may duplicate other sections. — kwami (talk) 07:41, 22 June 2010 (UTC)

keyman web

Should we add Keyman Web to our list of input methods? See User:Keymanweb/Keymanweb. I use the free home edition, which is no longer supported, but it won't work w Vista. I don't know if the web version allows you to switch keyboards, or if it even supports IPA. — kwami (talk) 08:54, 22 June 2010 (UTC)

Could we have a guideline on pronunciation placement?

By what appears to be an informal tradition, the pronunciation template for the article's name is typically inserted into the first sentence immediately after the article name, and placed within parentheses. I have had some concerns about this practice because:

(a) the parenthetical text interrupts the grammatical flow of the important first sentence of the lede,
(b) depending on the font and the dimensions of the infobox, a lengthy pronunciation coding does not wrap well on narrower browsers,
(c) most if not all encyclopedias follow the practice of leaving the pronunciation details to the dictionary, and finally
(d) parenthetical text usually doesn't work well for the visually impaired viewers who may be using speaking software to read a page. (I have no idea how well the pronunciation encoding is translated by those reader programs.)

In a compromise attempt to address these concerns, I tried modifying selected infoboxes to add an upper level row for inserting pronunciation information. When this was done, it proved possible to relocate the pronunciation out of the lede while still leaving the information readily accessible. The appearance also appeared quite presentable, at least to my eyes. (See Xenon for example.) However, this practice has raised concerns among some editors, who, in the absence of a widespread consensus, prefer to continue inserting the pronunciation into the first sentence. (See, for example, Template_talk:Infobox_element#Pronunciation.)

Please could we discuss this issue and come up with some suitable MoS guidelines for pronunciation placement within an article? Thank you.—RJH (talk) 19:35, 16 July 2010 (UTC)

As for point (c), most dictionaries don't have entries for proper names, though... A. di M. (formerly Army1987) (talk) 02:11, 17 July 2010 (UTC)
Yes, for (c), we don't normally include pronunciation data for words that readers can be expected to find in a dictionary. We include it for non-obvious proper names, for obscure words (may be in the dictionary, but many readers won't have access to a dictionary that complete), for commonly mispronounced words, and for ambiguous words (there may be more than one pronunciation, but only one is correct for the article).
I agree that some pron. info is excessively long and distracting. Info boxes is one way to go; astronomical articles are moving in that direction (names of moons, asteroids), as are names of mountains. I could see it for personal and place names in general.
Another option is to simply move the pron.[pronunciation 1] to a footnote. — kwami (talk) 03:17, 17 July 2010 (UTC)
The following articles have some examples of this: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Friedrich Nietzsche, Jürgen Habermas, Pokémon and especially Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Clearly they need the information, but the location and length of the pronunciation details is quite distracting.—RJH (talk) 17:58, 18 July 2010 (UTC)
  1. ^ like this, or just a plain footnote.
If our standard with (c) is proper names or obscure words that readers wouldn't be expected to be able to look up in dictionaries, then the pronunciation given at George W. Bush crosses the line. There's enough resistance to removing such pronunciations (as is the case above), that moving the pronunciations to an infobox (or footnote if there is no infobox) seems like a good idea. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 04:20, 17 July 2010 (UTC)
I don't like the infobox proposal because I've always been opposed to using infoboxes as dumping grounds for trivia: infoboxes should be at-a-glance summaries of key subject data, but articles should be able to stand alone without them. There are enough cases where pronunciation data is of high value (my example of the week is Żywiec) that a general move out of the article body seems out of the question on those grounds. Chris Cunningham (not at work) - talk 08:58, 17 July 2010 (UTC)
What's the difference between trivia and information? — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 13:47, 17 July 2010 (UTC)
I don't see how Zywiec supports your point. It's a Polish city and anyone who did care about the proper Polish pronunciation would a) already know it or b) know to look at the Polish language page. Further, a link to Wiktionary would provide exactly the same material (and Wiktionary could use the entry if it doesn't already exist and the editor cares enough to include IPA pronunciation in the first place). Third, a footnote is more appropriate if there's no good way to link to Wiktionary (technically, the MOS speaks out against linking the bolded initial word—this exact problem suggests that might need revision).
Meanwhile, on the side of why we need a policy to clamp down harder on ridiculous inline pronunciations, I can give you Quebec, Colombia, Ireland, China (!), London... If you can read the first sentence of the article, you don't need this information in the article and we should be pointing that out emphatically.
(Although credit where it's due: some good and kind editor finally fixed this monstrocity at Washington, D.C.) — LlywelynII 15:25, 6 October 2011 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────I think right after the first mention of the name is the right place to put the pronunciation in most cases (I mean, in most cases where pronunciation information is needed - we don't need to give such information for common English words). If the pronunciation situation is more complicated - various significant alternatives and aso on) then it could be given elsewhere in the lead section or, in extreme cases, in a separate section of the article (or in a section of the article devoted to alternative names, which we sometimes create on similar principles when the name information gets too complex to be conveniently placed in the first sentence).--Kotniski (talk) 10:58, 17 July 2010 (UTC)

Fully agreed: if the pronunciation is a big deal then the lede should simply summarise it and leave the details to the article body. Chris Cunningham (not at work) - talk 12:47, 17 July 2010 (UTC)
Also agree. If one subvocalizes when reading an article, then being unable to pronounce the subject makes reading the lede awkward. --Cybercobra (talk) 06:58, 21 July 2010 (UTC)
Strongly disagree. The pronunciation is universally distracting and nearly always inappropriate. There is nothing a footnote or link to Wiktionary couldn't fix that an inline first sentence interruption improves upon. — LlywelynII 15:25, 6 October 2011 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────I'll repeat (and expand upon) what I said at the discussion going on at WT:ASTRO, and say that I support placing pronunciations in an infobox. It seems very distracting and out of place in the lead. Personally, when I do know how to pronounce the subject of an article, the pronunciation is clutter. When I don't know how to pronounce the subject, I probably know very little about the subject. My first priority in that case is not to find out how it is pronounced, but rather to get a sense of what it is, so having the first or second sentence explain the pronunciation seems to place undue weight on pronunciation. Finally (and I recognize this is something that may not apply to a lot of people), I find that pronunciations in the infobox are easier to internalize, since they are in a distinct place separate from prose. I think it is probably that there is some whitespace around the pronunciation that makes it appealing. James McBride (talk) 01:40, 18 July 2010 (UTC)

I think placing it in the infobox is an obvious thing to do, afterall, what is the infobox for? I would think that biography infoboxes would also be a good place to put pronouciation keys. (talk) 05:36, 18 July 2010 (UTC)
The infobox is for summarising important comparative information. It is not for collecting trivia, and conversely non-trivial information should not be contained only in the infobox. So either the pronunciation data is trivial and doesn't belong in the infobox, or it's non-trivial and should not be deployed solely in the infobox. Chris Cunningham (not at work) - talk 11:29, 18 July 2010 (UTC)
At the very minimum, the pronunciation information (if the name requires it) should be placed (or removed) in a proper sentence (without the disrupting parentheses) that does not interrupt (or distract the reader from) the flow (as in engaging writing) of the text. This argues that the pronunciation should follow the first sentence, which is always used to define the article term.—RJH (talk) 16:00, 18 July 2010 (UTC)
For relatively short words I don't think this is the best idea. Foo is a town in Barland, 23 miles west of Baz. Its name is pronounced /fu:/. As of 2009, its population is estimated as 42,000 would be more distracting than Foo (pronounced /fu:/) is a city in Barland, 23 miles west of Baz. As of 2009, its population is estimated as 42,000, in my opinion. A. di M. (formerly Army1987) (talk) 16:35, 18 July 2010 (UTC)
Well, most relatively short or common words shouldn't need pronunciation guides. But, in your example, the parenthetical text does still distract somewhat from the flow. I guess we disagree.—RJH (talk) 16:46, 18 July 2010 (UTC)
Both the parenthetical text and an extra second sentence only giving the pronunciation would impair the flow to some extent, and with some names giving no pronunciation at all would be a Bad Idea, so all that remains to be decided is which way it impairs the flow less. A. di M. (formerly Army1987) (talk) 18:38, 18 July 2010 (UTC)
A lot of data is placed solely in the infobox, which is not trivial. In fact, many editors seem to go through pages expressly to remove information that already appears in the infobox from the text. (or at least I have encountered many cases where this occurs) Most astronomical coordinates exist solely in the infobox, but this is not trivial information, it is very important information. (talk) 06:35, 19 July 2010 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────The question is how useful the pronunciation information is to the average reader. Is the IPA well-known amongst readers, in which case there would be a case for putting in the pronunciation at the start, otherwise you are basically clogging up the first sentence with a bunch of incomprehensible symbols. Icalanise (talk) 10:48, 19 July 2010 (UTC)

You forget there are also respelling pronunciations. I agree IPA is bloody useless to the average reader (at least without that spiffy template that glosses what sound each symbol means). --Cybercobra (talk) 06:42, 21 July 2010 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Here's a couple of other approaches that were floated during earlier discussions:

(1) Place the pronunciation information directly under the article header line; similar to what is done with the astronomical coordinate information. (Example: Vega.)
(2) Add a line directly under the infobox title for the pronunciation information.

Either of these would make the pronunciation information readily available without obstructing the flow or wrapping of the text.—RJH (talk) 16:41, 20 July 2010 (UTC) ────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────So... we don't appear to have a consensus yet.—RJH (talk) 18:40, 26 July 2010 (UTC)

Looking above, there should be a consensus that something needs to be done about emphasizing the UNCOMMON and UNAVAILABLE nature of the pronunciation prominently here at at MOS-Lead to prevent silliness like London, China, Ireland, Colombia... (really, it's everywhere.)
Moving forward, I submit that links to Wiktionary from the bolded title word is the way to fix this (Yes, this will require revision of the style guide depreciating initial word links. Failing that, the pronunciation should move to footnotes & infoboxes. Repeated arguments by User:RJH above are poorly taken: pronunciation is non-trivial & granting for argument's sake that they were trivial for entries like China &c. the solution would be to remove them completely or to Wiktionary, not to interrupt the very first sentence of the article mainspace). — LlywelynII 15:25, 6 October 2011 (UTC)

Comma between IPA & respelling looks bad

The docs for {{respell}} suggest the placement of a comma between the IPA and the respelled pronunciation, like so:

Americium (/ˌæməˈrɪsiəm/, AM-ə-RIS-ee-əm) is...

However, I find the comma unsightly and completely unnecessary (the spacing between the comma and the respelling is often less favorable than in this sample, but I'm having trouble finding an example). Compare:

Americium (/ˌæməˈrɪsiəm/ AM-ə-RIS-ee-əm) is...

And the comma increases confusion when there are several pronunciations:

Papua New Guinea (/ˈpæpə/, PAP-oo-ə, /ˈpɑːpuːə/, PAH-poo-ə, or /ˈpæpjuːə/, PAP-ew-ə) is...

Also, despite the template's advice, the recommended comma(s) are frequently "missing" from actual articles and I for one have found them no harder to read for lacking them.

So, would anyone be opposed to axing the comma from {{respell}}'s docs? I note that this MoS page doesn't seem to require such commas. --Cybercobra (talk) 08:33, 21 July 2010 (UTC)

I've always taken them out when I've come across them. — kwami (talk) 07:10, 11 May 2011 (UTC)

Christopher Walken filmography

Could someone please fix the pronunciation here? Christopher Walken filmography? The IPA and the respelling are for two completely different sounds. ( /ˈwɔːkən/, WALL-ken )Thanks (talk) 01:59, 27 February 2011 (UTC)

Sure, but how is his name pronounced? Is it with an l or not? Is the second vowel reduced -- is it an indistinct "schwa" or is it a full eh as in "Ben"? My OR is that the l is pronounced and the last vowel is reduced, but especially on the first point I don't consider myself a reliable guide given that I pronounce the l in some -alk/-aulk words where such pronunciation is not in dictionaries (works like caulk and balk, for example, though not walk or talk).--Atemperman (talk) 19:19, 9 March 2011 (UTC)
AFAIK it's pronounced like walk, so that's how I fixed it. Correct me if I'm wrong. — kwami (talk) 11:21, 12 May 2011 (UTC)

'placement' section

I think we should have a section on placement. Generally I see pronunciation in parentheses after the bold-face entry, though sometimes if it's short without parentheses or any lede-in:

London (pronounced /ˈlʌndən/ (deprecated template) LUN-dən) is the...
London /ˈlʌndən/ is the...

Other times there is a dedicated section on pronunciation, for example at Halley's Comet. However, there is often a grey area where the pron cannot be captured with a brief transcription, but isn't contentious enough to warrant a section of its own. Greenwich Village, for example:

Greenwich Village (/ˈɡrɛnɪ/ GREN-itch, /ˈɡrɛnɪ/ GREN-ij, /ˈɡrɪnɪ/ GRIN-ich, /ˈɡrɪnɪ/ GRIN-ij),[1] in New York often simply called "the Village", is a...

Here the pronunciation info is IMO disruptive. In such cases perhaps we could advise relegating the pronunciation to a footnote. If we code the footnote with group=pronunciation, so that it's labeled, and use {{#tag:ref, which allows internal reference notes rather than <ref>, which doesn't, then I think it may work well:

{{#tag:ref| ... |group=pronunciation}}

with an extra parameter |name=X (|group=pronunciation|name=pron}}) if we wanted to link it from more than one place.

When we want it to appear, we'd use <references group=pronunciation/>. So the previous example would be:

Greenwich Village,[pronunciation 1] in New York often simply called "the Village", is a...

I don't know how to get rid of the '1' after 'pronunciation' in the fn link.

BTW, a button for {{#tag:ref||group="note"}} is available in your wiki markup edit window. Does something like this seem appropriate to add to the MOS? — kwami (talk) 11:42, 12 May 2011 (UTC)

  • Well, if we're expressing preferences, then I'd like the pronunciation to appear in a proper sentence following the first sentence. That way you've at least given the article an opportunity to define itself. Inserting a parenthetical pronunciation sub-sentence right after the name is disruptive to the flow of the text. Sometimes horribly so.—RJH (talk) 14:49, 12 May 2011 (UTC)

I'll go ahead and add it in then, along with your comment, since no-one is objecting. — kwami (talk) 00:26, 1 June 2011 (UTC)


I removed the IPA from Mac OS X, and was reverted because this guideline requires the IPA. From this discussions here these past few years I know that's not the case, but reading it over again, it does seem to say so. Should we perhaps write an explicit guideline for initialisms? Using the IPA to tell readers that "DOA" is pronounced D-O-A rather than doh-a is needlessly obscure. Our reason for advising caution with respellings and even rhymes is that people frequently get them wrong, not understanding that what works in their accent may not work in others. But AFAIK that isn't a problem with initialisms. — kwami (talk) 00:14, 1 June 2011 (UTC)

There might be a way to indicate to the reader whether it's an acronym or initialism, but how would we do this quickly and easily without either IPA or spelling pronunciation? — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 00:54, 1 June 2011 (UTC)
We could spell it out in letters, such as T-G-I-F, or we could write out the names of the letters, tee-gee-i-eff. I don't think that /ˌtiːˌdʒiːˌaɪˈɛf/ is particularly useful or accessible. Or in the case of the Mac OS X, we could just say the X is pronounced 'ten' rather than 'ex'. — kwami (talk) 01:14, 1 June 2011 (UTC)
Another one is C++. I'll add a section to the MOS, see what you think. — kwami (talk) 09:19, 2 June 2011 (UTC)
Okay, it's a good start, but the problem with the current wording is that it implies that any time we can avoid using IPA because a spelling pronunciation will be clear, we can. I don't think that's the policy that we agreed to about using IPA in general for English. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 17:19, 2 June 2011 (UTC)
No, not a pronunciation respelling, but IMO if we have a perfect homonym we should be able to use it instead of the IPA. Won't happen very often though.
For rhymes, we currently say "caution is advised and they should not be used alone". I remember it saying that caution should be used when using them alone – that is, the problem with rhymes is ensuring that they truly are rhymes in all dialects (or at least the ones we support with IPA-en), but if that's confirmed, there's no reason to insist on the IPA. — kwami (talk) 17:26, 2 June 2011 (UTC)

RFC: restructuring of the Manual of Style

Editors may be interested in this RFC, along with the discussion of its implementation:

Should all subsidiary pages of the Manual of Style be made subpages of WP:MOS?

It's big; and it promises huge improvements. Great if everyone can be involved. NoeticaTea? 00:50, 25 June 2011 (UTC)