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The Extended Speech Assessment Methods Phonetic Alphabet (X-SAMPA) is a variant of SAMPA developed in 1995 by John C. Wells, professor of phonetics at University College London.[1] It is designed to unify the individual language SAMPA alphabets, and extend SAMPA to cover the entire range of characters in the 1993 version of International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). The result is a SAMPA-inspired remapping of the IPA into 7-bit ASCII.

SAMPA was devised as a hack to work around the inability of text encodings to represent IPA symbols. Later, as Unicode support for IPA symbols became more widespread, the necessity for a separate, computer-readable system for representing the IPA in ASCII decreased. However, X-SAMPA is still useful as the basis for an input method for true IPA.



  • The IPA symbols that are ordinary lower case letters have the same value in X-SAMPA as they do in the IPA.
  • X-SAMPA uses backslashes as modifying suffixes to create new symbols. For example, O is a distinct sound from O\, to which it bears no relation. Such use of the backslash character can be a problem, since many programs interpret it as an escape character for the character following it. For example, such X-SAMPA symbols do not work in EMU, so backslashes must be replaced with some other symbol (e.g., an asterisk: '*') when adding phonemic transcription to an EMU speech database. The backslash has no fixed meaning.
  • X-SAMPA diacritics follow the symbols they modify. Except for ~ for nasalization, = for syllabicity, and ` for retroflexion and rhotacization, diacritics are joined to the character with the underscore character _.
  • The underscore character is also used to encode the IPA tiebar: k_p codes for /k͡p/.
  • The numbers _1 to _6 are reserved diacritics as shorthand for language-specific tone numbers.
  • The IETF language tags registry has assigned fonxsamp as the subtag for text transcribed in X-SAMPA.[2]

Lower-case symbols[edit]

X-SAMPA IPA IPA image Description Examples
a a Xsampa-a.png open front unrounded vowel French dame [dam]
b b Xsampa-b.png voiced bilabial plosive English bed [bEd], French bon [bO~]
b_< ɓ Xsampa-b lessthan.png voiced bilabial implosive Sindhi ɓarʊ [b_<arU]
c c Xsampa-c.png voiceless palatal plosive Hungarian latyak ["lQcQk]
d d Xsampa-d.png voiced alveolar plosive English dig [dIg], French doigt [dwa]
d` ɖ Xsampa-d'.png voiced retroflex plosive Swedish hord [hu:d`]
d_< ɗ Xsampa-d lessthan.png voiced alveolar implosive Sindhi ɗarʊ [d_<arU]
e e Xsampa-e.png close-mid front unrounded vowel French blé [ble]
f f Xsampa-f2.png voiceless labiodental fricative English five [faIv], French femme [fam]
g ɡ Xsampa-g.png voiced velar plosive English game [geIm], French longue [lO~g]
g_< ɠ Xsampa-g lessthan.png voiced velar implosive Sindhi ɠəro [g_<@ro]
h h Xsampa-h.png voiceless glottal fricative English house [haUs]
h\ ɦ Xsampa-hslash.png voiced glottal fricative Czech hrad [h\rat]
i i Xsampa-i.png close front unrounded vowel English be [bi:], French oui [wi], Spanish si [si]
j j Xsampa-j2.png palatal approximant English yes [jEs], French yeux [j2]
j\ ʝ Xsampa-jslash2.png voiced palatal fricative Greek γειά [j\a]
k k Xsampa-k.png voiceless velar plosive English scat [sk{t], Spanish carro ["karo]
l l Xsampa-l.png alveolar lateral approximant English lay [leI], French mal [mal]
l` ɭ Xsampa-l'.png retroflex lateral approximant Svealand Swedish sorl [so:l`]
l\ ɺ Xsampa-lslash.png alveolar lateral flap Wayuu püülükü [pM:l\MkM]
m m Xsampa-m.png bilabial nasal English mouse [maUs], French homme [Om]
n n Xsampa-n.png alveolar nasal English nap [n{p], French non [nO~]
n` ɳ Xsampa-n'.png retroflex nasal Swedish rn [h2:n`]
o o Xsampa-o.png close-mid back rounded vowel French veau [vo]
p p Xsampa-p.png voiceless bilabial plosive English speak [spik], French pose [poz], Spanish perro ["pero]
p\ ɸ Xsampa-pslash.png voiceless bilabial fricative Japanese fuku [p\M_0kM]
q q Xsampa-q.png voiceless uvular plosive Arabic qasbah ["qQs_Gba]
r r Xsampa-r.png alveolar trill Spanish perro ["pero]
r` ɽ Xsampa-r'.png retroflex flap Bengali gari [gar`i:]
r\ ɹ Xsampa-rslash2.png alveolar approximant English red [r\Ed]
r\` ɻ Xsampa-rslash'.png retroflex approximant Malayalam വഴി ["v@r\`i]
s s Xsampa-s.png voiceless alveolar fricative English seem [si:m], French session [sE"sjO~]
s` ʂ Xsampa-s'.png voiceless retroflex fricative Swedish mars [mas`]
s\ ɕ Xsampa-sslash.png voiceless alveolo-palatal fricative Polish świerszcz [s\v'ers`ts`]
t t Xsampa-t.png voiceless alveolar plosive English stew [stju:], French raté [Ra"te]
t` ʈ Xsampa-t'.png voiceless retroflex plosive Swedish rt [m2t`]
u u Xsampa-u.png close back rounded vowel English boom [bu:m], Spanish su [su]
v v Xsampa-v.png voiced labiodental fricative English vest [vEst], French voix [vwa]
v\ (or P) ʋ Xsampa-Porvslash.png labiodental approximant Dutch west [v\Est]/[PEst]
w w Xsampa-w2.png labial-velar approximant English west [wEst], French oui [wi]
x x Xsampa-x.png voiceless velar fricative Scots loch [lOx] or [5Ox]; German Buch, Dach; Spanish caja, gestión
x\ ɧ Xsampa-xslash2.png voiceless palatal-velar fricative Swedish sjal [x\A:l]
y y Xsampa-y.png close front rounded vowel French tu [ty] German über ["y:b6]
z z Xsampa-z.png voiced alveolar fricative English zoo [zu:], French azote [a"zOt]
z` ʐ Xsampa-z'.png voiced retroflex fricative Mandarin Chinese rang [z`aN]
z\ ʑ Xsampa-zslash.png voiced alveolo-palatal fricative Polish źrebak ["z\rEbak]

Capital symbols[edit]

X-SAMPA IPA IPA image Description Example
A ɑ Xsampa-A2.png open back unrounded vowel English father ["fA:D@(r\)] (RP and Gen.Am.)
B β Xsampa-B2.png voiced bilabial fricative Spanish lavar [la"Ba4]
B\ ʙ Xsampa-Bslash.png bilabial trill Reminiscent of shivering ("brrr")
C ç Xsampa-C2.png voiceless palatal fricative German ich [IC], English human ["Cjum@n] (broad transcription uses [hj-])
D ð Xsampa-D2.png voiced dental fricative English then [DEn]
E ɛ Xsampa-E2.png open-mid front unrounded vowel French même [mE:m], English met [mEt] (RP and Gen.Am.)
F ɱ Xsampa-F.png labiodental nasal English emphasis ["EFf@sIs] (spoken quickly, otherwise uses [Emf-])
G ɣ Xsampa-G2.png voiced velar fricative Greek γωνία [Go"nia]
G\ ɢ Xsampa-Gslash.png voiced uvular plosive Inuktitut nirivvik [niG\ivvik]
G\_< ʛ Xsampa-Gslash lessthan.png voiced uvular implosive Mam ʛa [G\_<a]
H ɥ Xsampa-H.png labial-palatal approximant French huit [Hit]
H\ ʜ Xsampa-Hslash.png voiceless epiglottal fricative Agul мехӀ [mEH\]
I ɪ Xsampa-I2.png near-close front unrounded vowel English kit [kIt]
I\ Xsampa-Islash.png near-close central unrounded vowel (non-IPA) Polish ryba [rI\bA] 
J ɲ Xsampa-J.png palatal nasal Spanish año ["aJo], English canyon ["k{J@n] (broad transcription uses [-nj-])
J\ ɟ Xsampa-Jslash.png voiced palatal plosive Hungarian egy [EJ\]
J\_< ʄ Xsampa-Jslash lessthan.png voiced palatal implosive Sindhi ʄaro [J\_<aro]
K ɬ Xsampa-K2.png voiceless alveolar lateral fricative Welsh llaw [KaU]
K\ ɮ Xsampa-Kslash.png voiced alveolar lateral fricative Mongolian долоо [tOK\O:]
L ʎ Xsampa-L2.png palatal lateral approximant Italian famiglia [fa"miLLa], Spanish: llamar [La"mar]
L\ ʟ Xsampa-Lslash.png velar lateral approximant Korean 구지 [t6L\gudz\i]
M ɯ Xsampa-M.png close back unrounded vowel Korean [M:ms\_hik_}]
M\ ɰ Xsampa-Mslash.png velar approximant Spanish fuego ["fweM\o]
N ŋ Xsampa-N2.png velar nasal English thing [TIN]
N\ ɴ Xsampa-Nslash.png uvular nasal Japanese san [saN\]
O ɔ Xsampa-O2.png open-mid back rounded vowel American English off [O:f]
O\ ʘ Xsampa-Oslash.png bilabial click  
P (or v\) ʋ Xsampa-Porvslash.png labiodental approximant Dutch west [PEst]/[v\Est], allophone of English phoneme /r\/
Q ɒ Xsampa-Q.png open back rounded vowel RP lot [lQt]
R ʁ Xsampa-R2.png voiced uvular fricative German rein [RaIn]
R\ ʀ Xsampa-Rslash.png uvular trill French roi [R\wa]
S ʃ Xsampa-S2.png voiceless postalveolar fricative English ship [SIp]
T θ Xsampa-T2.png voiceless dental fricative English thin [TIn]
U ʊ Xsampa-U2.png near-close back rounded vowel English foot [fUt]
U\ ᵿ Xsampa-Uslash.png near-close central rounded vowel (non-IPA) English euphoria [jU\"fO@r\i@]
V ʌ Xsampa-V.png open-mid back unrounded vowel Scottish English strut [str\Vt]
W ʍ Xsampa-X.png voiceless labial-velar fricative Scots when [WEn]
X χ Xsampa-x2.png voiceless uvular fricative Klallam sχaʔqʷaʔ [sXa?q_wa?]
X\ ħ Xsampa-Xslash.png voiceless pharyngeal fricative Arabic <ح>ha’ [X\A:]
Y ʏ Xsampa-Y2.png near-close front rounded vowel German hübsch [hYpS]
Z ʒ Xsampa-Z2.png voiced postalveolar fricative English vision ["vIZ@n]

Other symbols[edit]

X-SAMPA IPA IPA image Description Example
. . Xsampa-fullstop.png syllable break  
" ˈ Xsampa-doublequotes.png primary stress  
% ˌ Xsampa-percentage.png secondary stress American English pronunciation [pr\@%nVn.si."eI.S@n]
' (or _j) ʲ Xsampa-'or j.png palatalized Russian Земля (Earth) [z'I"ml'a] or [z_jI"ml_ja]
: ː Xsampa-colon.png long  
:\ ˑ Xsampa-colonslash.png half long Estonian differentiates three vowel lengths
-   separator Polish trzy [t-S1] vs. czy [tS1] (affricate)
@ ə Xsampa-at.png schwa English arena [@"r\i:n@]
@\ ɘ Xsampa-atslash.png close-mid central unrounded vowel Paicĩ kɘ̄ɾɘ [k@\_M4@\_M]
@` ɚ Xsampa-at'.png r-coloured schwa American English color ["kVl@`]
{ æ Xsampa-leftcurly.png near-open front unrounded vowel English trap [tr\{p]
} ʉ Xsampa-rightcurly.png close central rounded vowel Swedish sju [x\}:]; AuE/NZE boot [b}:t]
1 ɨ Xsampa-1.png close central unrounded vowel Welsh tu [t1], American English rose's ["r\oUz1z]
2 ø Xsampa-2.png close-mid front rounded vowel Danish købe ["k2:b@], French deux [d2]
3 ɜ Xsampa-3.png open-mid central unrounded vowel English nurse [n3:s] (RP) or [n3`s] (Gen.Am.)
3\ ɞ Xsampa-3slash.png open-mid central rounded vowel Irish tomhail [t3\:l']
4 ɾ Xsampa-4.png alveolar flap Spanish pero ["pe4o], American English better ["bE4@`]
5 ɫ Xsampa-l eor5.png velarized alveolar lateral approximant; also see _e English milk [mI5k], Portuguese livro ["5iv4u]
6 ɐ Xsampa-6.png near-open central vowel German besser ["bEs6], Australian English mud [m6d]
7 ɤ Xsampa-7.png close-mid back unrounded vowel Estonian kõik [k7ik], Vietnamese mơ [m7_M]
8 ɵ Xsampa-8.png close-mid central rounded vowel Swedish buss [b8s]
9 œ Xsampa-9.png open-mid front rounded vowel French neuf [n9f], Danish drømme [dR9m@]
& ɶ Xsampa-amper.png open front rounded vowel Swedish skörd [x\&d`]
? ʔ Xsampa-questionmark.png glottal stop Cockney English bottle ["bQ?o]
?\ ʕ Xsampa-qmarkslash.png voiced pharyngeal fricative Arabic ع (`ayn) [?\Ajn]
*   undefined escape character, SAMPA's "conjunctor"  
/   (a) French vowel archiphonemes or indeterminacies
(b) delimiter of phonemic transcriptions
maison /mE/zO~/
<   begin nonsegmental notation, e.g., SAMPROSA[3]  
<\ ʢ Xsampa-lessthanslash.png voiced epiglottal fricative Siwi arˤbˤəʢa (four) [ar_?\b_?\@<\a]
>   end nonsegmental notation  
>\ ʡ Xsampa-greaterthanslash.png epiglottal plosive Archi гӀарз (complaint) [>\arz]
^ Xsampa-hat.png upstep  
! Xsampa-exclamation.png downstep  
!\ ǃ Xsampa-exclamationslash.png postalveolar click Zulu iqaqa (polecat) [i:!\a:!\a]
| | Xsampa-bar.png minor (foot) group  
|\ ǀ Xsampa-barslash.png dental click Zulu icici (earring) [i:|\i:|\i]
|| Xsampa-doublebar.png major (intonation) group  
|\|\ ǁ Xsampa-doublebarslash.png alveolar lateral click Zulu xoxa (to converse) [|\|\O:|\|\a]
=\ ǂ Xsampa-equalsslash.png palatal click  
-\ Xsampa-dashslash.png linking mark  


X-SAMPA IPA IPA image Description
_"   ̈ Xsampa- doublequotes.png centralized
_+   ̟ Xsampa- plus.png advanced
_-   ̠ Xsampa- minus.png retracted
_/   ̌ Xsampa- slash.png rising tone
_0   ̥ Xsampa- 0.png voiceless
_<   implosive (IPA uses separate symbols for implosives)
= (or _=)   ̩ Xsampa-equalsor equals.png syllabic
_> ʼ Xsampa- greaterthan.png ejective
_?\ ˤ Xsampa- questionslash.png pharyngealized
_\   ̂   falling tone
_^   ̯ Xsampa- hat.png non-syllabic
_}   ̚ Xsampa- rightcurly.png no audible release
`  ˞ Xsampa-'rhino.png rhotacization in vowels, retroflexion in consonants (IPA uses separate symbols for consonants, see t` for an example)
~ (or _~)   ̃ Xsampa-tildor tild.png nasalization
_A   ̘ Xsampa- A.png advanced tongue root
_a   ̺ Xsampa- a2.png apical
_B   ̏ Xsampa- B.png extra low tone
_B_L  ᷅ Xsampa- B L.png low rising tone
_c   ̜ Xsampa- c.png less rounded
_d   ̪ Xsampa- d.png dental
_e   ̴ Xsampa- e.png velarized or pharyngealized; also see 5
<F> Xsampa-ltFgt.png global fall
_F   ̂ Xsampa- F.png falling tone
_G ˠ Xsampa- G.png velarized
_H   ́ Xsampa- H.png high tone
_H_T  ᷄ Xsampa- H T.png high rising tone
_h ʰ Xsampa- h.png aspirated
_j (or ') ʲ Xsampa-'or j.png palatalized
_k   ̰ Xsampa- k.png creaky voice
_L   ̀ Xsampa- L.png low tone
_l ˡ Xsampa- l.png lateral release
_M   ̄ Xsampa- M.png mid tone
_m   ̻ Xsampa- m.png laminal
_N   ̼ Xsampa- N.png linguolabial
_n Xsampa- n2.png nasal release
_O   ̹ Xsampa O.png more rounded
_o   ̞ Xsampa- o.png lowered
_q   ̙ Xsampa- q.png retracted tongue root
<R> Xsampa-ltRgt.png global rise
_R   ̌ Xsampa- R.png rising tone
_R_F  ᷈ Xsampa- R F.png rising falling tone
_r   ̝ Xsampa- r.png raised
_T   ̋ Xsampa- T.png extra high tone
_t   ̤ Xsampa- t.png breathy voice
_v   ̬ Xsampa- v.png voiced
_w ʷ Xsampa- w.png labialized
_X   ̆ Xsampa- X.png extra-short
_x   ̽ Xsampa- x.png mid-centralized



Consonants (pulmonic)
Place of articulation Labial Coronal Dorsal Laryngeal
Manner of articulation Bilabial Labio‐
Dental Alveolar Post‐
Palatal Velar Uvular Pharyn‐
Nasal    m    F    n    n`    J    N    N\
Plosive p b p_d b_d t d t` d` c J\ k g q G\ >\ ?
Fricative p\ B f v T D s z S Z s` z` C j\ x G X R X\ ?\ H\ <\ h h\
Approximant    B_o    v\    r\    r\`    j    M\
Trill    B\    r    *    R\    *
Tap or Flap    *    *    4    r`    *
Lateral Fricative K K\ *    *    *   
Lateral Approximant    l    l`    L    L\
Lateral Flap    l\    *    *    *
  • Asterisks (*) mark sounds that do not have X-SAMPA symbols. Daggers (†) mark IPA symbols that have recently been added to Unicode. Since April 2008, the latter is the case of the labiodental flap, symbolized by a right-hook v in the IPA: Labiodental flap (Gentium).svg. A dedicated symbol for the labiodental flap does not yet exist in X-SAMPA.
W Voiceless labialized velar approximant
w Voiced labialized velar approximant
H Voiced labialized palatal approximant
s\ Voiceless palatalized postalveolar (alveolo-palatal) fricative
z\ Voiced palatalized postalveolar (alveolo-palatal) fricative
x\ Voiceless "palatal-velar" fricative
Affricates and double articulation
ts voiceless alveolar affricate
dz voiced alveolar affricate
tS voiceless postalveolar affricate
dZ voiced postalveolar affricate
ts\ voiceless alveolo-palatal affricate
dz\ voiced alveolo-palatal affricate
tK voiceless alveolar lateral affricate
kp voiceless labial-velar plosive
gb voiced labial-velar plosive
Nm labial-velar nasal stop
Consonants (non-pulmonic)
Clicks Implosives Ejectives
O\ Bilabial b_< Bilabial _> For example:
|\ Laminal alveolar ("dental") d_< Alveolar p_> Bilabial
ǃ\ Apical (post-) alveolar ("retroflex") J\_< Palatal t_> Alveolar
=\ Laminal postalveolar ("palatal") g_< Velar k_> Velar
|\|\ Lateral coronal ("lateral") G\_< Uvular s_> Alveolar fricative


Front Central Back
Blank vowel trapezoid.svg
i • y
1 • }
M • u
I • Y
I\ • U\
• U
e • 2
@\ • 8
7 • o
e_o • 2_o
• o_o
E • 9
3 • 3\
V • O
{ •
a • &
A • Q

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wells, J.C. "Computer-coding the IPA: a proposed extension of SAMPA" (PDF). UCL Phonetics and Linguistics. University College London. Retrieved 16 March 2016.
  2. ^ "Language Subtag Registry" (text). IETF. 2022-08-08. Retrieved 12 November 2022.
  3. ^ For a summary of SAMPROSA, see Wells, J.C. (19 September 1995). "SAMPROSA (SAM Prosodic Transcription)". UCL Phonetics and Linguistics. University College London. Retrieved 23 October 2021.

External links[edit]