Help:International Phonetic Alphabet

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Below is a basic key to the symbols of the International Phonetic Alphabet. For the smaller set of symbols that is sufficient for English, see Help:IPA for English. Several rare IPA symbols are not included; these are found in the main IPA article. For the Manual of Style guideline for pronunciation, see Manual of Style (pronunciation).

For each IPA symbol, an English example is given where possible; here "RP" stands for Received Pronunciation. The foreign languages that are used to illustrate additional sounds are primarily the ones most likely to be familiar to English speakers, French, German, and Spanish. For symbols not covered by those, recourse is taken to the populous languages Mandarin Chinese, Hindustani, Arabic, and Russian. For sounds still not covered, other smaller but well-known languages are used, such as Swahili, Turkish, and Zulu.

The left-hand column displays the symbols like this: Template:Audio-pipe. Click on the speaker icon to hear the sound; click on the symbol itself for a dedicated article with a more complete description and examples from multiple languages. All the sounds are spoken more than once, and the consonant sounds are spoken once followed by a vowel and once between vowels.


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Main symbols[edit]

The symbols are arranged by similarity to letters of the Latin alphabet. Symbols which do not resemble any Latin letter are placed at the end.

   Symbol    Examples Description
A
Template:Audio-pipe Mandarin 他 tā, German Mann For many English speakers, the first part of the ow sound in cow. Found in some dialects of English in cat or father.
[ ä ] Spanish casa, French patte
Template:Audio-pipe German Aachen, French gare Long [a].
Template:Audio-pipe RP cut, German Kaiserslautern (With English, [ɐ] is normally written "[ʌ]".)
Template:Audio-pipe Finnish Linna, Dutch bad
Template:Audio-pipe RP father, French pâte Long [ɑ].
[ ɑ̃ ] French Caen, sans, temps Nasalized [ɑ].
Template:Audio-pipe RP cot Like [ɑ], but with the lips slightly rounded.
Template:Audio-pipe Like [ɔ], but without the lips being rounded. (When "[ʌ]" is used for English, it may really be [ɐ] or [ɜ].)
Template:Audio-pipe RP cat
B
Template:Audio-pipe English babble
Template:Audio-pipe Swahili bwana Like a [b] said with a gulp.
Template:Audio-pipe Like the brrr sound made when cold.
Template:Audio-pipe Spanish la Bamba, Kinyarwanda abana "children" Like [b], but with the lips not quite touching.
C
Template:Audio-pipe Turkish kebap "kebab", Czech stín "shadow", Greek και "and" Between English tune (RP) and cute. Sometimes used instead for [tʃ] in languages like Hindi.
Template:Audio-pipe German Ich More y-like than [x]. Some English speakers have a similar sound in huge. To produce this sound, try whispering loudly the word "ye" as in "Hear ye!".
Template:Audio-pipe Mandarin Xi'an, Polish ściana More y-like than [ʃ]; something like English she.
Template:Audio-pipe see under O
D
Template:Audio-pipe English dad
Template:Audio-pipe Swahili Dodoma Like [d] said with a gulp.
Template:Audio-pipe American English harder Like [d] with the tongue curled or pulled back.
Template:Audio-pipe English the, bathe
Template:Audio-pipeTemplate:Ref English adze, Italian zero
Template:Audio-pipeTemplate:Ref English judge
Template:Audio-pipeTemplate:Ref Polish niewiedź "bear" Like [dʒ], but with more of a y-sound.
Template:Audio-pipeTemplate:Ref Polish em "jam" Like [dʒ] with the tongue curled or pulled back.
E
Template:Audio-pipe Spanish fe; French clé
Template:Audio-pipe German Klee Long [e]. Similar to English hey, before the y sets in.
Template:Audio-pipe English above, Hindi ठग [ʈʰəɡ] (thug) "thief" (Only occurs in English when not stressed.)
[ ɚ ] American English runner
Template:Audio-pipe English bet
[ ɛ̃ ] French Agen, vin, main; Polish mięso Nasalized [ɛ].
Template:Audio-pipe RP bird (long)
[ ɝ ] American English bird
F
Template:Audio-pipe English fun
Template:Audio-pipe see under J
Template:Audio-pipe see under J
G
Template:Audio-pipe English gag (Should look like Opentail g.svg. No different from a Latin "g")
Template:Audio-pipe Swahili Uganda Like [ɡ] said with a gulp.
Template:Audio-pipe Like [ɡ], but further back, in the throat. Found in Persian and some Arabic dialects for /q/, as in Gaddafi.
Template:Audio-pipe see under Z English beige.
H
Template:Audio-pipe American English house
Template:Audio-pipe English ahead, when said quickly.
[ ʰ ] The extra puff of air in English top [tʰɒp] compared to stop [stɒp], or to French or Spanish [t].
Template:Audio-pipe Arabic محمد Muhammad Far down in the throat, like [h], but stronger.
Template:Audio-pipe see under U
[ ɮ ] see under L
I
Template:Audio-pipe French ville, Spanish Valladolid
Template:Audio-pipe English sea Long [i].
Template:Audio-pipe English sit
Template:Audio-pipe Russian ты "you" Often used for unstressed English roses.
J
Template:Audio-pipe English yes, hallelujah, German Junge
[ ʲ ] Russian Ленин [ˈlʲenʲɪn] Indicates a sound is more y-like.
Template:Audio-pipe Spanish cayo (some dialects) Like [j], but stronger.
Template:Audio-pipe Turkish gör "see", Czech díra "hole" Between English dew (RP) and argue. Sometimes used instead for [dʒ] in languages like Hindi.
Template:Audio-pipe Swahili jambo Like [ɟ] said with a gulp.
K
Template:Audio-pipe English kick, skip
L
Template:Audio-pipe English leaf
Template:Audio-pipe English wool
Russian малый [ˈmɑɫɨj] "small"
"Dark" el.
Template:Audio-pipe Welsh llwyd [ɬʊɪd] "grey"
Zulu hlala [ɬaːla] "sit"
Rather like [l] and [ʃ] or [l] and [θ] said together. Found in Welsh names like Lloyd and Llywelyn and Nelson Mandela's Xhosa name Rolihlahla.
Template:Audio-pipe Like [l] with the tongue curled or pulled back.
Template:Audio-pipe A flapped [l], like [l] and [ɾ] said together.
Template:Audio-pipe Zulu dla "eat" Rather like [l] and [ʒ], or [l] and [ð], said together.
M
Template:Audio-pipe English mime
Template:Audio-pipe English symphony Like [m], but lips touch teeth as they do in [f].
[ ɯ ] see under W
Template:Audio-pipe see under W
N
Template:Audio-pipe English nun
Template:Audio-pipe English sing
Template:Audio-pipe Spanish Peña, French champagne Rather like English canyon.
Template:Audio-pipe Hindi वरुण [ʋəruɳ] Varuna Like [n] with the tongue curled or pulled back.
Template:Audio-pipe Castilian Spanish Don Juan [doɴˈχwan] Like [ŋ], but further back, in the throat.
O
Template:Audio-pipe Spanish no, French eau
Template:Audio-pipe German Boden, French Vosges Long [o]. Somewhat reminiscent of English no.
Template:Audio-pipe German Oldenburg, French Garonne
Template:Audio-pipe RP law, French Limoges Long [ɔ].
[ ɔ̃ ] French Lyon, son; Polish wąż Nasalized [ɔ].
Template:Audio-pipe French feu, bœufs Like [e], but with the lips rounded like [o].
Template:Audio-pipe German Goethe, French Dle, neutre Long [ø].
Template:Audio-pipe Swedish dum Halfway between [o] and [ø]. Similar to [ʊ] but with the tongue slightly more down and front.
Template:Audio-pipe French bœuf, seul, German Göttingen Like [ɛ], but with the lips rounded like [ɔ].
Template:Audio-pipe French œuvre, heure Long [œ].
[ œ̃ ] French brun, parfum Nasalized [œ].
Template:Audio-pipe see under other
Template:Audio-pipe see under other
P
Template:Audio-pipe English pip
Q
Template:Audio-pipe Arabic Qur’ān Like [k], but further back, in the throat.
R
Template:Audio-pipe Spanish perro, Scots borrow "Rolled R". (Generally used for English [ɹ] when there's no need to be precise.)
Template:Audio-pipe Spanish pero, Tagalog daliri, Malay kabar, American English kitty/kiddie "Flapped R".
Template:Audio-pipe A trill in the back of the throat. Found for /r/ in some conservative registers of French.
Template:Audio-pipe Hindi साड़ी [sɑːɽiː] "sari" Like flapped [ɾ], but with the tongue curled back.
Template:Audio-pipe RP borrow
Template:Audio-pipe American English borrow, butter Like [ɹ], but with the tongue curled or pulled back, as pronounced by many English speakers.
Template:Audio-pipe French Paris, German Riemann Said back in the throat, but not trilled.
S
Template:Audio-pipe English sass
Template:Audio-pipe English shoe
Template:Audio-pipe Mandarin 少林 (Shàolín), Russian Пушкин (Pushkin) Acoustically similar to [ʃ], but with the tongue curled or pulled back.
T
Template:Audio-pipe English tot, stop
Template:Audio-pipe Hindi ठग [ʈʰəɡ] (thug) "thief" Like [t], but with the tongue curled or pulled back.
Template:Audio-pipeTemplate:Ref English cats, Russian царь tsar
Template:Audio-pipe Template:Ref English church
Template:Audio-pipeTemplate:Ref Mandarin 北京 Template:Audio-pipe, Polish ciebie "you" Like [tʃ], but with more of a y-sound.
Template:Audio-pipeTemplate:Ref Mandarin zh, Polish czas Like [tʃ] with the tongue curled or pulled back.
U
Template:Audio-pipe French vous "you"
Template:Audio-pipe French Rocquencourt, German Schumacher, close to RP food Long [u].
Template:Audio-pipe English foot, German Bundesrepublik
Template:Audio-pipe Australian English food (long) Like [ɨ], but with the lips rounded as for [u].
Template:Audio-pipe French lui Like [j] and [w] said together.
Template:Audio-pipe see under W
V
Template:Audio-pipe English verve
Template:Audio-pipe Hindi वरुण [ʋəruɳə] "Varuna" Between [v] and [w]. Used by some Germans and Russians for v/w, and by some speakers of British English for r.
Template:Audio-pipe Arabic / Swahili ghali "expensive", Spanish suegro Sounds rather like French [ʁ] or between [g] and [h].
Template:Audio-pipe Mandarin Hénán Like [o] but without the lips rounded, something like a cross of [ʊ] and [ʌ].
[ ʌ ] see under A
W
Template:Audio-pipe English wow
[ ʷ ] English rain [ɹʷeɪn] Indicates a sound has lip rounding, quick.
Template:Audio-pipe what (some dialects) like [h] and [w] said together
Template:Audio-pipe Turkish kayık "caïque" Like [u], but with the lips flat; something like [ʊ].
Template:Audio-pipe Spanish agua
X
Template:Audio-pipe Scottish English loch, German Bach, Russian хороший [xɐˈroʂɨj] "good", Spanish joven between [k] and [h]
Template:Audio-pipe northern Standard Dutch Scheveningen, Castilian Spanish Don Juan [doɴˈχwan] Like [x], but further back , in the throat. Some German and Arabic speakers have [χ] for [x].
Y
Template:Audio-pipe French rue Like [i], but with the lips rounded as for [u].
Template:Audio-pipe German Bülow, French sûr Long [y].
Template:Audio-pipe German Eisenhüttenstadt Like [ɪ], but with the lips rounded as for [ʊ].
Template:Audio-pipe Italian tagliatelle Like [l], but more y-like. Rather like English volume.
Template:Audio-pipe see under U
Template:Audio-pipe see under V
[ ɣ ] see under V
Z
Template:Audio-pipe English zoos
Template:Audio-pipe English vision, French journal
Template:Audio-pipe formal Russian жжёшь [ʑːoʂ] "you burn", Polish źle More y-like than [ʒ], something like beigey.
Template:Audio-pipe Mandarin 人民日报 Rénmín Rìbào "People's Daily", Russian жир "fat" Like [ʒ] with the tongue curled or pulled back.
[ ɮ ] see under L
other
Template:Audio-pipe English thigh, bath
Template:Audio-pipe Japanese 富士 [ɸɯdʑi] Fuji, Māori [ˌɸaːɾeː'nuiː] wharenui Like [p], but with the lips not quite touching
Template:Audio-pipe English uh-oh, Hawaii, German die Angst The 'glottal stop', a catch in the breath. For some people, found in button [ˈbʌʔn̩], or between vowels across words: Deus ex machina [ˌdeɪəsˌʔɛksˈmɑːkɨnə]; in some nonstandard dialects, in a apple [ʌˈʔæpl̩].
Template:Audio-pipe Arabic عربي (carabī) "Arabic" A light sound deep in the throat.
Template:Audio-pipe English tsk-tsk! or tut-tut!, Zulu icici "earring" (The English click used for disapproval.) Several distinct sounds, written as digraphs, including [ kǀ ], [ ɡǀ ], [ ŋǀ ]. The Zimbabwean MP Ncube has this click in his name, as did Cetshwayo.
Template:Audio-pipe English tchick! tchick!, Zulu ixoxo "frog" (The English click used to urge on a horse.) Several distinct sounds, written as digraphs, including [ kǁ ], [ ɡǁ ], [ ŋǁ ]. Found in the name of the Xhosa.
Template:Audio-pipe Zulu iqaqa "polecat" (The English click used to imitate the trotting of a horse.) A hollow popping sound, like a cork pulled from a bottle. Several distinct sounds, written as digraphs, including [ kǃ ], [ ɡǃ ], [ ŋǃ ].
  • Note: d
    Note: t
    These symbols are officially written with a tie linking them (e.g. t͡ʃ), and are also sometimes written as single characters (e.g. ʧ) though the latter convention is no longer official. They are written without ligatures here to ensure correct display in all browsers.

Diacritic marks[edit]

All diacritics are here shown on a carrier letter such as the vowel a.

Symbol Example Description
[ ˈa ] pronunciation
[pʰɹɜʊ̯ˌnɐnsiˈeɪʃn̩]
Main stress. The mark denotes the stress of the following syllable.
[ ˌa ] Weaker stress. The mark denotes the stress of the following syllable.
[ aː ] English shh! [ʃː] Long. Often used with English vowels or diphthongs: Mayo /ˈmeːoː/ for [ˈmeɪ̯ɜʊ̯], etc.
[ aˑ ] RP caught [ˈkʰɔˑt] Semi-long. (Although the vowel is different, this is also longer than cot [ˈkʰɒt].)
[ a̯ ] English cow [kʰaʊ̯], koi [kʰɔɪ̯] This vowel does not form a syllable of its own, but runs into the vowel next to it. (In English, the diacritic is generally left off: [kaʊ].)
[ ã ] French vin blanc [vɛ̃blɑ̃] "white wine" A nasal vowel, as with a Texas twang.
[ n̥ ] Sounds like a loud whisper; [n̥] is like a whispered breath through the nose. [l̥] is found in Tibetan Lhasa.
[ n̩ ] English button A consonant without a vowel. (English [n̩] is often transcribed /ən/.)
[ d̪ ] Spanish dos, French deux The tongue touches the teeth more than it does in English.
[ kʰ ] English come Aspirated consonant, pronounced with a puff of air. Similarly [tʰ pʰ tsʰ tʃʰ tɕʰ].
[ k’ ] Zulu ukuza "come" Like a popped [k], pushed from the throat. Similarly [tʼ pʼ qʼ tʃʼ tsʼ tɬʼ].
[ á ] Mandarin [mámā] "mother" High tone (Pinyin: mā) Careful!
The Pinyin Romanization used for Mandarin has these same diacritics, but with different values.
However, Thai Romanization uses them the way the IPA does.
[ ā ] Mandarin 妈 [mámā] "mother" Mid tone (Pinyin: ma).
[ à ] Mandarin [màdɤ] "horse's" Low tone (Pinyin: mǎ).
[ â ] Mandarin 骂 [mâ] "scold" Falling tone (Pinyin: mà).
[ ǎ ] Mandarin 麻 [mǎ] "hemp" Rising tone (Pinyin: má).
[ . ] English courtship [ˈkɔrt.ʃɪp] Syllable break. (this is often redundant and therefore left off)

Brackets[edit]

Two types of brackets are commonly used to enclose transcriptions in the IPA:

  • /Slashes/ indicate those meaningful sounds in a pronunciation that are most prominently and broadly distinguished as the basic sounds of a language by its own native speakers; these are called phonemes. Changing the symbols between slashes would either change the identity of the word or produce nonsense. Since there is no meaningful difference to a native speaker between the two letter ‹l› sounds in the word lulls, they are considered the same phoneme and so, using slashes, they are given the same symbol in IPA: /ˈlʌlz/. Similarly, Spanish la bomba is transcribed phonemically with two instances of the same single b sound, /laˈbomba/. Thus a reader who is not familiar with the language in question might not know how to interpret these transcriptions more narrowly.
  • [Square brackets] indicate the narrower or more detailed phonetic qualities of a pronunciation, not taking into account the norms of the language to which it belongs; therefore, such transcriptions do not regard whether subtly different sounds in the pronunciation are actually noticeable or distinguishable to a native speaker of the language. Within square brackets is what a foreigner who does not know the structure of a language might hear as discrete units of sound. For instance, the English word lulls may be pronounced in a particular dialect more specifically as [ˈlɐɫz], with different letter ‹l› sounds at the beginning and end. This may be obvious to speakers of other languages that differentiate between the sounds [l] and [ɫ], though a native English speaker will likely not hear the two as different (since in English they are both regarded as phonetic variations—allophones—of the same /l/ phoneme). Likewise, Spanish la bomba has two unique ‹b› sounds to the ears of foreigners or linguists—[laˈβomba]—though a native Spanish speaker might not be able to hear it. Omitting or adding such detail does not make any difference to the identity of the word, but helps to give a more precise pronunciation, usually regarding a specific dialect of a language.

A third kind of bracket is occasionally seen:

  • Either //double slashes// or |pipes| (or occasionally other conventions) show that the enclosed sounds are theoretical constructs that are not actually heard. (This is part of morphophonology.) For instance, most phonologists argue that the -s at the ends of verbs, which surfaces as either /s/ in talks /tɔːks/ or as /z/ in lulls /lʌlz/, has a single underlying form. If they decide this form is an s, they would write it //s// (or |s|) to claim that phonemic /tɔːks/ and /lʌlz/ are essentially //tɔːks// and //lʌls// underneath. If they were to decide it was essentially the latter, //z//, they would transcribe these words //tɔːkz// and //lʌlz//.

Lastly,

  • ⟨Angle brackets⟩ may be used to represent the orthographic representation: ⟨lulls⟩, ⟨la bomba⟩, though these are not supported on all computers. To get around this technical limitation, ‹chevrons› are also used; in addition, because they're easier to type, the less-than and greater-than signs (< >) that appear on most keyboards are commonly used for this purpose.[1]

Rendering issues[edit]

Voiced velar plosive[edit]

These two characters should look similar:

ɡ Opentail g.svg

If in the box to the left you see the symbol 12px rather than a lower-case open-tail g, you may be experiencing a well-known bug in the font MS Reference Sans Serif or other; switching to Lucida Sans Unicode or Arial Unicode should fix it.

On your current font: [ɡ].

Template:MFSample

Affricates and double articulation[edit]

The tie bar is intended to cover both letters of an affricate or doubly articulated consonant. However, if your browser uses Arial Unicode MS to display IPA characters, the following incorrectly formed sequences may look better than the correct order (letter, tie bar, letter) due to a bug in that font:

ts͡, tʃ͡, tɕ͡, dz͡, dʒ͡, dʑ͡, tɬ͡, kp͡, ɡb͡, ŋm͡.

Here is how the proper configuration displays in your default font:

t͡s, d͡z, t͡ʃ, d͡ʒ, t͡ɕ, d͡ʑ, t͡ɬ, k͡p, ɡ͡b, ŋ͡m,

and in other several fonts: Template:MFSample

Angle brackets[edit]

True angle brackets, ⟨ ⟩, are unsupported by several common fonts, and so have been replaced by ‹ › or < > in most project pages. However,

  1. ^ Because < > are used in html, they may trigger an html element. For example, <i> on a web page would not show up as such but would instead italicize text that followed. This can be avoided by writing &lt; or &#60; or <nowiki><</nowiki> instead of <.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]