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Ipa

"IPA" redirects here. For other uses, see IPA (disambiguation).
For usage of IPA in World Heritage Encyclopedia, see Help:IPA or Help:IPA/Introduction
International Phonetic Alphabet
Type Alphabet, partially featural
Languages Used for phonetic and phonemic transcription of any language
Time period since 1888
Parent systems
Romic alphabet
  • Phonotypic alphabet
    • International Phonetic Alphabet
ISO 15924 ,
Direction
Unicode alias

The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA)[note 1] is an alphabetic system of phonetic notation based primarily on the Latin alphabet. It was devised by the International Phonetic Association as a standardized representation of the sounds of oral language.[1] The IPA is used by lexicographers, foreign language students and teachers, linguists, speech-language pathologists, singers, actors, constructed language creators, and translators.[2][3]

The IPA is designed to represent only those qualities of speech that are distinctive in oral language: phonemes, intonation, and the separation of words and syllables.[1] To represent additional qualities of speech, such as tooth gnashing, lisping, and sounds made with a cleft palate, an extended set of symbols called the Extensions to the IPA may be used.[2]

IPA symbols are composed of one or more elements of two basic types, letters and diacritics. For example, the sound of the English letter ⟨t⟩ may be transcribed in IPA with a single letter, [t], or with a letter plus diacritics, [t̺ʰ], depending on how precise one wishes to be.[note 2] Often, slashes are used to signal broad or phonemic transcription; thus, /t/ is less specific than, and could refer to, either [t̺ʰ] or [t] depending on the context and language.

Occasionally letters or diacritics are added, removed, or modified by the International Phonetic Association. As of the most recent change in 2005,[4] there are 107 letters, 52 diacritics, and four prosodic marks in the IPA. These are shown in the current IPA chart, posted below in this article and at the website of the IPA.[5]

History

Main article: History of the IPA

In 1886, a group of French and British language teachers, led by the French linguist Paul Passy, formed what would come to be known from 1897 onwards as the International Phonetic Association (in French, l’Association phonétique internationale).[6] Their original alphabet was based on a spelling reform for English known as the Romic alphabet, but in order to make it usable for other languages, the values of the symbols were allowed to vary from language to language.[7] For example, the sound ] (the sh in shoe) was originally represented with the letter ⟨c⟩ in English, but with the letter ⟨ch⟩ in French.[6] However, in 1888, the alphabet was revised so as to be uniform across languages, thus providing the base for all future revisions.[6][8]

Since its creation, the IPA has undergone a number of revisions. After major revisions and expansions in 1900 and 1932, the IPA remained unchanged until the IPA Kiel Convention in 1989. A minor revision took place in 1993 with the addition of four letters for mid-central vowels[2] and the removal of letters for voiceless implosives.[9] The alphabet was last revised in May 2005 with the addition of a letter for a labiodental flap.[10] Apart from the addition and removal of symbols, changes to the IPA have consisted largely in renaming symbols and categories and in modifying typefaces.[2]

Extensions to the IPA for speech pathology were created in 1990 and officially adopted by the International Clinical Phonetics and Linguistics Association in 1994.[11]

Description

For a guide to pronouncing IPA transcriptions of English words, see IPA chart for English dialects.

The general principle of the IPA is to provide one letter for each distinctive sound (speech segment) although this practice is not followed if the sound itself is complex.[12] This means that

  • It does not normally use combinations of letters to represent single sounds, the way English does with ⟨sh⟩, ⟨th⟩ and ⟨ng⟩, or single letters to represent multiple sounds the way ⟨x⟩ represents /ks/ or /ɡz/ in English.
  • There are no letters that have context-dependent sound values, as ⟨c⟩ does in English and several other European languages.
  • Finally, the IPA does not usually have separate letters for two sounds if no known language makes a distinction between them, a property known as "selectiveness".[2][note 3]

Among the symbols of the IPA, 107 letters represent consonants and vowels, 31 diacritics are used to modify these, and 19 additional signs indicate suprasegmental qualities such as length, tone, stress, and intonation.[note 4] These are organized into a chart; the chart displayed here is an unofficial expansion and re-organization of the official chart posted at the website of the IPA and below in this article.

Letterforms

The letters chosen for the IPA are meant to harmonize with the Latin alphabet.[note 5] For this reason, most letters are either Latin or Greek, or modifications thereof. Some letters are neither: for example, the letter denoting the glottal stop, ⟨ʔ⟩, has the form of a dotless question mark, and derives originally from an apostrophe. A few letters, such as that of the voiced pharyngeal fricative, ⟨ʕ⟩, were inspired by other writing systems (in this case, the Arabic letter ‘ain).[9]

Despite its preference for harmonizing with the Latin script, the International Phonetic Association has occasionally admitted other letters. For example, before 1989, the IPA letters for click consonants were ⟨ʘ⟩, ⟨ʇ⟩, ⟨ʗ⟩, and ⟨ʖ⟩, all of which were derived either from existing IPA letters, or from Latin and Greek letters. However, except for ⟨ʘ⟩, none of these letters were widely used among Khoisanists or Bantuists, and as a result they were replaced by the more widespread symbols ⟨ʘ⟩, ⟨ǀ⟩, ⟨ǃ⟩, ⟨ǂ⟩, and ⟨ǁ⟩ at the IPA Kiel Convention in 1989.[13] Although the IPA diacritics are fully featural, there is little systemicity in the letter forms. A retroflex articulation is consistently indicated with a right-swinging tail, as in ⟨ɖ ʂ ɳ⟩, and implosion by a top hook, ⟨ɓ ɗ ɠ⟩, but other pseudo-featural elements are due to haphazard derivation and coincidence. For example, all nasal consonants but uvular ⟨ɴ⟩ are based on the form ⟨n⟩: ⟨m ɱ n ɲ ɳ ŋ⟩. However, the similarity between ⟨m⟩ and ⟨n⟩ is a historical accident, ⟨ɲ⟩ and ⟨ŋ⟩ are derived from ligatures of gn and ng, and ⟨ɱ⟩ is an ad hoc imitation of ⟨ŋ⟩. In none of these is the form consistent with other letters that share these places of articulation.

Some of the new letters were ordinary Latin letters turned upside-down, such as ɐ ɔ ə ɟ ɥ ɯ ɹ ᴚ ʇ ʌ ʍ ʎ (turned a c e f h m r ʀ t v w y). This was easily done with mechanical typesetting machines, and had the advantage of not requiring the casting of special type for IPA symbols.

Symbols and sounds

The International Phonetic Alphabet is based on the Latin alphabet, using as few non-Latin forms as possible.[6] The Association created the IPA so that the sound values of most consonant letters taken from the Latin alphabet would correspond to "international usage".[6] Hence, the letters ⟨b⟩, ⟨d⟩, ⟨f⟩, (hard) ⟨ɡ⟩, (non-silent) ⟨h⟩, (unaspirated) ⟨k⟩, ⟨l⟩, ⟨m⟩, ⟨n⟩, (unaspirated) ⟨p⟩, (voiceless) ⟨s⟩, (unaspirated) ⟨t⟩, ⟨v⟩, ⟨w⟩, and ⟨z⟩ have the values used in English; and the vowel letters from the Latin alphabet (⟨a⟩, ⟨e⟩, ⟨i⟩, ⟨o⟩, ⟨u⟩) correspond to the (long) sound values of Latin: [i] is like the vowel in machine, [u] is as in rule, etc. Other letters may differ from English, but are used with these values in other European languages, such as ⟨j⟩, ⟨r⟩, and ⟨y⟩.

This inventory was extended by using capital or cursive forms, diacritics, and rotation. There are also several symbols derived or taken from the Greek alphabet, though the sound values may differ. For example, ⟨ʋ⟩ is a vowel in Greek, but an only indirectly related consonant in the IPA. For most of these subtly different glyph shapes have been devised for IPA, in particular ⟨ɑ⟩, ⟨ɣ⟩, ⟨ɛ⟩, ⟨ɸ⟩, and ⟨ʋ⟩ which are encoded in Unicode separately from their Greek "parent" letters, three of these (⟨β⟩, ⟨θ⟩ and ⟨χ⟩) are often used unmodified in form as they have not been encoded separately.

The sound values of modified Latin letters can often be derived from those of the original letters.[14] For example, letters with a rightward-facing hook at the bottom represent retroflex consonants; and small capital letters usually represent uvular consonants. Apart from the fact that certain kinds of modification to the shape of a letter generally correspond to certain kinds of modification to the sound represented, there is no way to deduce the sound represented by a symbol from its shape (unlike, for example, in Visible Speech).

Beyond the letters themselves, there are a variety of secondary symbols which aid in transcription. Diacritic marks can be combined with IPA letters to transcribe modified phonetic values or secondary articulations. There are also special symbols for suprasegmental features such as stress and tone that are often employed.

Brackets and phonemes

There are two principal types of brackets used to set off IPA transcriptions:

  • [square brackets] are used for phonetic details of the pronunciation, possibly including details that may not be used for distinguishing words in the language being transcribed, but which the author nonetheless wishes to document.
  • /slashes/ are used to mark off phonemes, all of which are distinctive in the language, without any extraneous detail.

For example, while the /p/ sounds of pin and spin are pronounced slightly differently in English (and this difference would be meaningful in some languages), the difference is not meaningful in English. Thus phonemically the words are /pɪn/ and /spɪn/, with the same /p/ phoneme. However, to capture the difference between them (the allophones of /p/), they can be transcribed phonetically as [pʰɪn] and [spɪn].

Other conventions are less commonly seen:

  • Double slashes //...//, pipes |...|, double pipes ||...||, or braces {...} may be used around a word to denote its underlying structure, more abstract even than that of phonemes. See morphophonology for examples.
  • Angle brackets are used to clarify that the letters represent the original orthography of the language, or sometimes an exact transliteration of a non-Latin script, not the IPA; or, within the IPA, that the letters themselves are indicated, not the sound values that they carry. For example, ⟨pin⟩ and ⟨spin⟩ would be seen for those words, which do not contain the ee sound [i] of the IPA letter ⟨i⟩. Italics are perhaps more commonly used for this purpose when full words are being written (as pin, spin above), but may not be sufficiently clear for individual letters and digraphs. The true angle brackets ⟨...⟩ (U+27E8, U+27E9) are not supported by many non-mathematical fonts as of 2010. Therefore chevrons ‹...› (U+2039, U+203A) are sometimes used in substitution, as are the less-than and greater-than signs <...> (U+003C, U+003E).
  • {Braces} are used for prosodic notation. See Extensions to the International Phonetic Alphabet for examples in that system.
  • (Parentheses) are used for indistinguishable utterances. They are also seen for silent articulation (mouthing), where the expected phonetic transcription is derived from lip-reading, and with periods to indicate silent pauses, for example (...).
  • Double parentheses indicate obscured or unintelligible sound, as in ((2 syll.)), two audible but unidentifiable syllables.

Handwritten forms

Main article: Handwritten IPA

IPA letters have handwritten forms designed for use in manuscripts and when taking field notes; they are occasionally seen in publications when the printer did not have fonts that supported IPA, and the IPA was therefore filled in by hand.

Official chart

File:IPA chart (C)2005.pdf The International Phonetic Alphabet is occasionally modified by the Association. After each modification, the Association provides an updated simplified presentation of the alphabet in the form of a chart. (See History of the IPA.) The most recent official chart, from 2005, is presented at right.

The procedure for modifying the alphabet or the chart is to propose the change in the Journal of the IPA (see, for example, August 2008 on a low central vowel and August 2011 on central approximants[15]). Reactions to the proposal may be published in the same or subsequent issues of the Journal (as in August 2009 on the low central vowel[16]). A formal proposal is then put to the Council of the IPA[17] (which is elected by the membership [18]) for further discussion and a formal vote.[19][20]

Only changes to the alphabet or chart that have been approved by the Council can be considered part of the official IPA. Nonetheless, many IPA users make personal changes in their own practice, either for convenience in working on a particular language (see, for example, "Illustrations of the IPA" for individual languages in the Handbook, which for example may use ⟨c⟩ for [tʃ][21]), or because they object to some aspect of the official version. For example, the chart at the top of this article is reorganized in response to perceived shortcomings of the official version, and in places reflects the organization of the 1979 chart.

Usage

Although the IPA offers over one hundred and sixty symbols for transcribing speech, only a relatively small subset of these will be used to transcribe any one language. It is possible to transcribe speech with various levels of precision. A precise phonetic transcription, in which sounds are described in a great deal of detail, is known as a narrow transcription. A coarser transcription which ignores some of this detail is called a broad transcription. Both are relative terms, and both are generally enclosed in square brackets.[1] Broad phonetic transcriptions may restrict themselves to easily heard details, or only to details that are relevant to the discussion at hand, and may differ little if at all from phonemic transcriptions, but they make no theoretical claim that all the distinctions transcribed are necessarily meaningful in the language.


For example, the English word little may be transcribed broadly using the IPA as [ˈlɪtəl], and this broad (imprecise) transcription is a more or less accurate description of many pronunciations. A narrower transcription may focus on individual or dialectical details: [ˈɫɪɾɫ] in General American, [ˈlɪʔo] in Cockney, or [ˈɫɪːɫ] in Southern US English.

It is customary to use simpler letters, without many diacritics, in phonemic transcriptions. The choice of IPA letters may reflect the theoretical claims of the author, or merely be a convenience for typesetting. For instance, in English, either the vowel of pick or the vowel of peak may be transcribed as /i/ (for the pairs /pik, piːk/ or /pɪk, pik/), and neither is identical to the vowel of the French word pique which is also generally transcribed /i/. That is, letters between slashes do not have absolute values, something true of broader phonetic approximations as well. A narrow transcription may, however, be used to distinguish them: [pʰɪk], [pʰiːk], [pik].

Linguists

Although IPA is popular for transcription by linguists, American linguists often alternate use of the IPA with Americanist phonetic notation or use the IPA together with some nonstandard symbols, for reasons including reducing the error rate on reading handwritten transcriptions or avoiding perceived awkwardness of IPA in some situations. The exact practice may vary somewhat between languages and even individual researchers, so authors are generally encouraged to include a chart or other explanation of their choices.[22]

Language study

Some language study programs use the IPA to teach pronunciation. For example, in Russia (and earlier in the Soviet Union) and mainland China, textbooks for children[23] and adults[24] for studying English and French consistently use the IPA. English teachers and textbooks in Taiwan tend to use the Kenyon and Knott system instead.

Dictionaries

English

Many British dictionaries, including the Oxford English Dictionary and some learner's dictionaries such as the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary and the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary, now use the International Phonetic Alphabet to represent the pronunciation of words.[25] However, most American (and some British) volumes use one of a variety of pronunciation respelling systems, intended to be more comfortable for readers of English. For example, the respelling systems in many American dictionaries (such as Merriam-Webster) use ⟨y⟩ for IPA [j] and ⟨sh⟩ for IPA [ʃ], reflecting common representations of those sounds in written English,[26] using only letters of the English Roman alphabet and variations of them. (In IPA, [y] represents the sound of the French ⟨u⟩ (as in tu), and [sh] represents the pair of sounds in grasshopper.)

Other languages

The IPA is also not universal among dictionaries in languages other than English. Monolingual dictionaries of languages with generally phonemic orthographies generally do not bother with indicating the pronunciation of most words, and tend to use respelling systems for words with unexpected pronunciations. Dictionaries produced in Israel use the IPA rarely and sometimes use the Hebrew script for transcription of foreign words. Monolingual Hebrew dictionaries use pronunciation respelling for words with unusual spelling; for example, Even-Shoshan Dictionary respells תָּכְנִית as תּוֹכְנִית because this word uses kamatz katan. Bilingual dictionaries that translate from foreign languages into Russian usually employ the IPA, but monolingual Russian dictionaries occasionally use pronunciation respelling for foreign words; for example, Ozhegov's dictionary adds нэ́ in brackets for the French word пенсне (pince-nez) to indicate that the е does not iotate the н.

The IPA is more common in bilingual dictionaries, but there are exceptions here too. Mass-market bilingual Czech dictionaries, for instance, tend to use the IPA only for sounds not found in the Czech language.[27]

Standard orthographies and capital variants

Main article: Case variants of IPA letters

IPA letters have been incorporated into the alphabets of various languages, notably via the Africa Alphabet in sub-Saharan Africa: Hausa, Fula, Akan, Gbe languages, Manding languages, Lingala, etc. This has created the need for capital variants. For example, Kabiyé of northern Togo has Ɔ ɔ, Ɛ ɛ, Ɖ ɖ, Ŋ ŋ, Ɣ ɣ, Ʃ ʃ, Ʊ ʊ (or Ʋ ʋ):

MBƱ AJƐYA KIGBƐNDƱƱ ŊGBƐYƐ KEDIƔZAƔ SƆSƆƆ TƆM SE.

These, and others, are supported by Unicode, but appear in Latin ranges other than the IPA extensions.

In the IPA itself, only lower-case letters are used. The 1949 edition of the IPA handbook indicated that an asterisk ⟨*⟩ may be prefixed to indicate that a word is a proper name,[28] but this convention has not been included in recent editions.

Classical singing

IPA has widespread use among classical singers for preparation, especially among English-speaking singers who are expected to sing in a variety of foreign languages. Opera librettos are authoritatively transcribed in IPA, such as Nico Castel's volumes[29] and Timothy Cheek's book Singing in Czech.[30] Opera singers' ability to read IPA was recently used by the Visual Thesaurus, which employed several opera singers "to make recordings for the 150,000 words and phrases in VT's lexical database. ...for their vocal stamina, attention to the details of enunciation, and most of all, knowledge of IPA."[31]

Product names

It is relatively common to find IPA used in Japanese product names, either as an adjunct to indicate the pronunciation, or as the only form of the name apart from a possible katakana gloss. [32] An example of IPA used on its own is the former Mazda brand ɛ͂nfini. IPA is also common in Japan for decoration on T-shirts and other garments and accessories.

Letters

The International Phonetic Association organizes the letters of the IPA into three categories: pulmonic consonants, non-pulmonic consonants, and vowels.[33][34]

Pulmonic consonant letters are arranged singly or in pairs of voiceless (tenuis) and voiced sounds, with these then grouped in columns from front (labial) sounds on the left to back (glottal) sounds on the right. In official publications by the IPA,[35] two columns are omitted to save space, with the letters listed among 'other symbols',[36] and with the remaining consonants arranged in rows from full closure (occlusives: stops and nasals), to brief closure (vibrants: trills and taps), to partial closure (fricatives) and minimal closure (approximants), again with a row left out to save space. In the table below, a slightly different arrangement is made: All pulmonic consonants are included in the pulmonic-consonant table, and the vibrants and laterals are separated out so that the rows reflect the common lenition pathway of stop → fricative → approximant, as well as the fact that several letters pull double duty as both fricative and approximant; affricates may be created by joining stops and fricatives from adjacent cells. Shaded cells are judged to be implausible.

Vowel letters are also grouped in pairs—of unrounded and rounded vowel sounds—with these pairs also arranged from front on the left to back on the right, and from maximal closure at top to minimal closure at bottom. No vowel letters are omitted from the chart, though in the past some of the mid central vowels were listed among the 'other symbols'.

Each character is assigned a number, to prevent confusion between similar letters (such as ɵ and θ, ɤ and ɣ, or ʃ and ʄ) in such situations as the printing of manuscripts. The categories of sounds are assigned different ranges of numbers.[37]

Consonants

Main article: Consonant
Place → Labial Coronal Dorsal Radical Glottal
↓ Manner Bila­bial Labio-​dental Den​tal Alve​olar Post­alveolar Retro​flex Alveolo-​palatal Pal​a​tal Ve​lar Uvu​lar Pha​ryn​geal Epi​glot​tal Glot​tal
Nasal
Stop
Sibilant fricative
Non-sibilant fricative
Approximant
Flap or tap
Trill  *
Lateral fricative  *
Lateral approximant
Lateral flap *
Non-pulmonic consonants
Clicks ʘ ǀ ǃ ǂ ǁ
ʘ̃ ʘ̃ˀ ʘ͡q ʘ͡qʼ
Implosives ɓ̥ ɗ̥ ʄ̊
Ejectives
Affricates
Co-articulated consonants
Continuants
Occlusives
— These tables contain phonetic symbols, which may not display correctly in some browsers. [Help]
— Where symbols appear in pairs, left–right represent the voiceless–voiced consonants.
— Shaded areas denote pulmonic articulations judged to be impossible.
— Symbols marked with an asterisk (*) are not defined in the IPA.
Notes
  • Asterisks (*) indicate unofficial IPA symbols for attested sounds. See the respective articles for ad hoc symbols found in the literature.
  • In rows where some letters appear in pairs (the obstruents), the letter to the right represents a voiced consonant (except breathy-voiced [ɦ]). However, [ʔ] cannot be voiced, and the voicing of [ʡ] is ambiguous.[38] In the other rows (the sonorants), the single letter represents a voiced consonant.
  • Although there is a single letter for the coronal places of articulation for all consonants but fricatives, when dealing with a particular language, the letters may be treated as specifically dental, alveolar, or post-alveolar, as appropriate for that language, without diacritics.
  • Shaded areas indicate articulations judged to be impossible.
  • The letters [ʁ, ʕ, ʢ] represent either voiced fricatives or approximants.
  • In many languages, such as English, [h] and [ɦ] are not actually glottal, fricatives, or approximants. Rather, they are bare phonation.[39]
  • It is primarily the shape of the tongue rather than its position that distinguishes the fricatives [ʃ ʒ], [ɕ ʑ], and [ʂ ʐ].
  • The labiodental nasal [ɱ] is not known to exist as a phoneme in any language.[40]

Pulmonic consonants

A pulmonic consonant is a consonant made by obstructing the glottis (the space between the vocal cords) or oral cavity (the mouth) and either simultaneously or subsequently letting out air from the lungs. Pulmonic consonants make up the majority of consonants in the IPA, as well as in human language. All consonants in the English language fall into this category.[41]

The pulmonic consonant table, which includes most consonants, is arranged in rows that designate manner of articulation, meaning how the consonant is produced, and columns that designate place of articulation, meaning where in the vocal tract the consonant is produced. The main chart includes only consonants with a single place of articulation.

Co-articulated consonants

Co-articulated consonants are sounds that involve two simultaneous places of articulation (are pronounced using two parts of the vocal tract). In English, the [w] in "went" is a coarticulated consonant, because it is pronounced by rounding the lips and raising the back of the tongue. Other languages, such as French and Swedish, have different coarticulated consonants.

Note

Affricates and double articulated consonants

Affricates and doubly articulated stops are represented by two letters joined by a tie bar, either above or below the letters.[43] The six most common affricates are optionally represented by ligatures, though this is no longer official IPA usage,[1] because a great number of ligatures would be required to represent all affricates this way. Alternatively, a superscript notation for a consonant release is sometimes used to transcribe affricates, for example for t͡s, paralleling ~ k͡x. The letters for the palatal plosives c and ɟ, are often used as a convenience for t͡ʃ and d͡ʒ or similar affricates, even in official IPA publications, so they must be interpreted with care.

View this table as an image
Tie bar Ligature Description
ʦ voiceless alveolar affricate
ʣ voiced alveolar affricate
ʧ voiceless postalveolar affricate
ʤ voiced postalveolar affricate
ʨ voiceless alveolo-palatal affricate
ʥ voiced alveolo-palatal affricate
 – voiceless alveolar lateral affricate
 – voiceless labial-velar plosive
 – voiced labial-velar plosive
 – labial-velar nasal stop
 – voiced velar affricate
Note
  • On browsers that use Arial Unicode MS to display IPA characters, the following incorrectly formed sequences may look better due to a bug in that font: ts͡, tʃ͡, tɕ͡, dz͡, dʒ͡, dʑ͡, tɬ͡, kp͡, ɡb͡, ŋm͡.

Non-pulmonic consonants

Non-pulmonic consonants are sounds whose airflow is not dependent on the lungs. These include clicks (found in the Khoisan languages of Africa), implosives (found in languages such as Swahili or Vietnamese), and ejectives (found in many Amerindian and Caucasian languages).

View this table as an image
Clicks Implosives Ejectives
Bilabial Bilabial ʼ For example:
Laminal alveolar ("dental") Alveolar Bilabial
Apical (post-) alveolar ("retroflex") Palatal Alveolar
Laminal postalveolar ("palatal") Velar Velar
Lateral coronal ("lateral") Uvular Alveolar fricative
Notes
  • Clicks are double articulated and have traditionally been described as having a forward 'release' and a rear 'accompaniment', with the click letters representing the release. Therefore all clicks would require two letters for proper notation: ⟨k͡ǂ, ɡ͡ǂ, ŋ͡ǂ, q͡ǂ, ɢ͡ǂ, ɴ͡ǂetc., or ⟨ǂ͡k, ǂ͡ɡ, ǂ͡ŋ, ǂ͡q, ǂ͡ɢ, ǂ͡ɴ⟩. When the dorsal articulation is omitted, a [k] may usually be assumed. However, recent research disputes the concept of 'accompaniment'.[44] In these approaches, the click letter represents both articulations, with the different letters representing different click 'types', there is no velar-uvular distinction, and the accompanying letter represents the manner, phonation, or airstream contour of the click: ⟨ǂ, ᶢǂ, ᵑǂetc.
  • Letters for the voiceless implosives ⟨ƥ, ƭ, ƈ, ƙ, ʠ⟩ are no longer supported by the IPA, though they remain in Unicode. Instead, the IPA typically uses the voiced equivalent with a voiceless diacritic: ⟨ɓ̥, ʛ̥⟩, etc..
  • Although not confirmed as contrastive in any language, and therefore not explicitly recognized by the IPA, a letter for the retroflex implosive, , is supported in the Unicode Phonetic Extensions Supplement, added in version 4.1 of the Unicode Standard, or can be created as a composite ⟨ɗ̢⟩.
  • The ejective diacritic often stands in for a superscript glottal stop in glottalized but pulmonic sonorants, such as [mˀ], [lˀ], [wˀ], [aˀ]. These may also be transcribed as creaky [m̰], [l̰], [w̰], [a̰].

Vowels

Main article: Vowel


The IPA defines a vowel as a sound which occurs at a syllable center.[45] Below is a chart depicting the vowels of the IPA. The IPA maps the vowels according to the position of the tongue.

The vertical axis of the chart is mapped by vowel height. Vowels pronounced with the tongue lowered are at the bottom, and vowels pronounced with the tongue raised are at the top. For example, [ɑ] (the first vowel in father) is at the bottom because the tongue is lowered in this position. However, [i] (the vowel in "meet") is at the top because the sound is said with the tongue raised to the roof of the mouth.

In a similar fashion, the horizontal axis of the chart is determined by vowel backness. Vowels with the tongue moved towards the front of the mouth (such as [ɛ], the vowel in "met") are to the left in the chart, while those in which it is moved to the back (such as [ʌ], the vowel in "but") are placed to the right in the chart.

In places where vowels are paired, the right represents a rounded vowel (in which the lips are rounded) while the left is its unrounded counterpart.

Diphthongs

Diphthongs are typically specified with a non-syllabic diacritic, as in ⟨aɪ̯⟩. However, sometimes a tie bar is used, especially if it is difficult to tell if the vowel is characterized by an on-glide or an off-glide: ⟨a͡ɪ⟩ or ⟨o͜e⟩.

Notes
  • a⟩ officially represents a front vowel, but there is little distinction between front and central open vowels, and ⟨a⟩ is frequently used for an open central vowel.[22] However, if disambiguation is required, the retraction diacritic or the centralized diacritic may be added to indicate an open central vowel, as in ⟨⟩ or ⟨ä⟩.

Diacritics

Diacritics are small markings which are placed around the IPA letter in order to show a certain alteration or more specific description in the letter's pronunciation.[46] Subdiacritics (markings normally placed below a letter) may be placed above a letter having a descender (informally called a tail), e.g. ŋ̊, ȷ̈.[46]

The dotless i,ı⟩, is used when the dot would interfere with the diacritic. Other IPA letters may appear as diacritic variants to represent phonetic detail: (fricative release), (breathy voice), ˀa (glottal onset), (epenthetic schwa), oᶷ (diphthongization). Additional diacritics were introduced in the Extensions to the IPA, which were designed principally for speech pathology.

View the diacritic table as an image
Syllabicity diacritics
◌̩ ɹ̩ n̩ Syllabic ◌̯ e̯ ʊ̯ Non-syllabic
Consonant-release diacritics
◌ʰ Aspirated[a] ◌̚ No audible release
◌ʱ
◌ⁿ dⁿ Nasal release ◌ˡ Lateral release
Phonation diacritics
◌̥ n̥ d̥ Voiceless ◌̬ s̬ t̬ Voiced
◌̤ b̤ a̤ Breathy voiced[b] ◌̰ b̰ a̰ Creaky voiced
Articulation diacritics
◌̪ t̪ d̪ Dental ◌̼ t̼ d̼ Linguolabial
◌̺ t̺ d̺ Apical ◌̻ t̻ d̻ Laminal
◌̟ u̟ t̟ Advanced ◌̠ i̠ t̠ Retracted
◌̈ ë ä Centralized ◌̽ e̽ ɯ̽ Mid-centralized
◌̝ e̝ ɹ̝ Raised (ɹ̝ = voiced alveolar nonsibilant fricative)
◌˔ ˔
◌̞ e̞ β̞ Lowered (β̞ = bilabial approximant)
◌˕ ˕
Co-articulation diacritics
◌̹ ɔ̹ x̹ More rounded ◌̜ ɔ̜ x̜ʷ Less rounded
◌ʷ tʷ dʷ Labialized or labio-velarized ◌ʲ tʲ dʲ Palatalized
◌ˠ tˠ dˠ Velarized ◌ˤ tˤ aˤ Pharyngealized
◌ᶣ tᶣ dᶣ Labio-palatalized ◌̴ Velarized or pharyngealized
◌̘ e̘ o̘ Advanced tongue root ◌̙ e̙ o̙ Retracted tongue root
◌̃ ẽ z̃ Nasalized ◌˞ ɚ ɝ Rhotacized
Notes
a^ With aspirated voiced consonants, the aspiration is also voiced. Many linguists prefer one of the diacritics dedicated to breathy voice.
b^ Some linguists restrict this breathy-voice diacritic to sonorants, and transcribe obstruents as .

The state of the glottis can be finely transcribed with diacritics. A series of alveolar plosives ranging from an open to a closed glottis phonation are:

Open glottis [t] voiceless
[d̤] breathy voice, also called murmured
[d̥] slack voice
Sweet spot [d] modal voice
[d̬] stiff voice
[d̰] creaky voice
Closed glottis [ʔ͡t] glottal closure

Suprasegmentals

These symbols describe the features of a language above the level of individual consonants and vowels, such as prosody, tone, length, and stress, which often operate on syllables, words, or phrases: that is, elements such as the intensity, pitch, and gemination of the sounds of a language, as well as the rhythm and intonation of speech.[47] Although most of these symbols indicate distinctions that are phonemic at the word level, symbols also exist for intonation on a level greater than that of the word.[47]

View this table as an image
Length, stress, and rhythm
ˈa Primary stress (symbol goes
before stressed syllable)
ˌa Secondary stress (symbol goes
before stressed syllable)
aː kː Long (long vowel or
geminate consonant)
Half-long
ə̆ Extra-short
a.a Syllable break s‿a Linking (absence of a break)
Intonation
| Minor (foot) break Major (intonation) break
[48] Global rise [48] Global fall
Tone diacritics and tone letters
ŋ̋ e̋ Extra high / top ꜛke Upstep
ŋ́ é High ŋ̌ ě Generic rise
ŋ̄ ē Mid
ŋ̀ è Low ŋ̂ ê Generic fall
ŋ̏ ȅ Extra low / bottom ꜜke Downstep

Finer distinctions of tone may be indicated by combining the tone diacritics and letters shown here, though not many fonts support this. The primary examples are high (mid) rising ɔ᷄, ɔ˧˥; low rising ɔ᷅, ɔ˩˧; high falling ɔ᷇, ɔ˥˧; low (mid) falling ɔ᷆, ɔ˧˩; peaking ɔ᷈, ɔ˧˥˧ (etc.); and dipping ɔ᷉, ɔ˧˩˧ (etc.). The correspondence between the diacritics and tone letters is only approximate; for example, diacritics only indicate generic peaking or dipping tones, while the tone letters can convey fine phonetic detail, with over a hundred peaking and hundred dipping tone contours that correspond to these two diacritics, or even approximately to the six rising and falling diacritics. Various combinations are used in the IPA Handbook despite not being found on the simplified official IPA chart. However, although it is theoretically possible to combine the three diacritics in any permutation, in practice only the six combinations given here are actually used.

A work-around for diacritics sometimes seen when a language has more than one rising or falling tone, and the author does not wish to completely abandon the IPA, is to restrict generic rising ɔ̌ and falling ɔ̂ for the higher-pitched of the rising and falling tones, ɔ˥˧ and ɔ˧˥, and to use the non-standard subscript diacritics ɔ̗ and ɔ̖ for the lower-pitched rising and falling tones, ɔ˩˧ and ɔ˧˩. When a language has four or six level tones, the two mid tones are sometimes transcribed as high-mid ɔ̍ (non-standard) and low-mid ɔ̄.

As with other IPA diacritics, such as length, aspiration, and rhoticity, the stress mark may be doubled to indicate an extra degree of stress.[49]

Obsolete and nonstandard symbols

The IPA inherited alternate symbols from various traditions, but eventually settled on one for each sound. The other symbols are now considered obsolete. An example is ⟨ɷ⟩ which has been standardized to ⟨ʊ⟩. Several letters indicating secondary articulation have been dropped altogether, with the idea that such things should be indicated with diacritics: ⟨ƍ⟩ for ⟨⟩ is one. In addition, the rare voiceless implosive series ⟨ƥ ƭ ƈ ƙ ʠ⟩ has been dropped; they are now written ⟨ɓ̥ ɗ̥ ʄ̊ ɠ̊ ʛ̥⟩ or ⟨pʼ↓ tʼ↓ cʼ↓ kʼ↓ qʼ↓⟩. A rejected competing proposal for transcribing clicks, ⟨ʇ, ʗ, ʖ⟩, is still sometimes seen, as the official letters ⟨ǀ, ǃ, ǁ⟩ may cause problems with legibility, especially when used with brackets ([ ] or / /), the letter ⟨l⟩, or the prosodic marks ⟨|, ‖⟩ (for this reason, some publications which use standard IPA click letters disallow IPA brackets).[50]

There are also unsupported or ad hoc letters from local traditions that find their way into publications that otherwise use the standard IPA. This is especially common with affricates such as the "barred lambda" ⟨ƛ⟩ for [t͜ɬ].

IPA extensions

The "Extensions to the IPA", often abbreviated as "extIPA", and sometimes called "Extended IPA", are symbols whose original purpose was to accurately transcribe disordered speech. At the IPA Kiel Convention in 1989, a group of linguists drew up the initial extensions,[51] which were based on the previous work of the PRDS (Phonetic Representation of Disordered Speech) Group in the early 1980s.[52] The extensions were first published in 1990, then modified, and published again in 1994 in the Journal of the International Phonetic Association, when they were officially adopted by the ICPLA.[53] While the original purpose was to transcribe disordered speech, linguists have used the extensions to designate a number of unique sounds within standard communication, such as hushing, gnashing teeth, and smacking lips. The extensions have also been used to record certain peculiarities in an individual's voice, such as nasalized voicing.[2]

The Extensions to the IPA do not include symbols used for voice quality (VoQS), such as whispering.

Segments without letters

The remaining blank cells on the IPA chart can be filled without too much difficulty if the need arises. Some ad hoc letters have appeared in the literature for the retroflex lateral flap, the voiceless lateral fricatives, the epiglottal trill, and the labiodental plosives. (See the grey letters in the PDF chart.) Diacritics can supply much of the remainder, which would indeed be appropriate if the sounds were allophones.[54] If a sound cannot be transcribed, an asterisk ⟨*⟩ may be used, either as a letter or as a diacritic (as in ⟨k*⟩ sometimes seen for the Korean 'fortis' velar).

Consonants

Representations of consonant sounds outside of the core set are created by adding diacritics to letters with similar sound values. The Spanish bilabial and dental approximants are commonly written as lowered fricatives, [β̞] and [ð̞] respectively. Similarly, voiced lateral fricatives would be written as raised lateral approximants, [ɭ˔ ʎ̝ ʟ̝]. A few languages such as Banda have a bilabial flap as the preferred allophone of what is elsewhere a labiodental flap. It has been suggested that this be written with the labiodental flap letter and the advanced diacritic, [ⱱ̟].[55]

Similarly, a labiodental trill would be written [ʙ̪] (bilabial trill and the dental sign), and labiodental stops [p̪ b̪] rather than with the ad hoc letters sometimes found in the literature. Other taps can be written as extra-short plosives or laterals, e.g. [ɟ̆ ɢ̆/ʀ̆ ʟ̆], though in some cases the diacritic would need to be written below the letter. A retroflex trill can be written as a retracted [r̠], just as retroflex fricatives sometimes are. The remaining consonants, the uvular laterals (ʟ̠ etc.) and the palatal trill, while not strictly impossible, are very difficult to pronounce and are unlikely to occur even as allophones in the world's languages.

Vowels

The vowels are similarly manageable by using diacritics for raising, lowering, fronting, backing, centering, and mid-centering.[56] For example, the unrounded equivalent of [ʊ] can be transcribed as mid-centered [ɯ̽], and the rounded equivalent of [æ] as raised [ɶ̝]. True mid vowels are lowered [e̞ ø̞ ɘ̞ ɵ̞ ɤ̞ o̞], while centered [ɪ̈ ʊ̈] and [ä] are near-close and open central vowels, respectively. The only known vowels that cannot be represented in this scheme are vowels with unexpected roundedness, which would require a dedicated diacritic, such as ⟨ʏʷ⟩ and ⟨uᵝ⟩ (or ⟨ɪʷ⟩ and ⟨ɯᵝ⟩).

Symbol names

An IPA symbol is often distinguished from the sound it is intended to represent, since there is not necessarily a one-to-one correspondence between letter and sound in broad transcription, making articulatory descriptions such as 'mid front rounded vowel' or 'voiced velar stop' unreliable. While the Handbook of the International Phonetic Association states that no official names exist for its symbols, it admits the presence of one or two common names for each.[57] The symbols also have nonce names in the Unicode standard. In some cases, the Unicode names and the IPA names do not agree. For example, IPA calls ɛ "epsilon", but Unicode calls it "small letter open E".

The traditional names of the Latin and Greek letters are usually used for unmodified letters.[note 6] Letters which are not directly derived from these alphabets, such as ], may have a variety of names, sometimes based on the appearance of the symbol, and sometimes based on the sound that it represents. In Unicode, some of the letters of Greek origin have Latin forms for use in IPA; the others use the letters from the Greek section.

For diacritics, there are two methods of naming. For traditional diacritics, the IPA notes the name in a well known language; for example, é is acute, based on the name of the diacritic in English and French. Non-traditional diacritics are often named after objects they resemble, so is called bridge.

Pullum and Ladusaw list a variety of names in use for IPA symbols, both current and retired, in addition to names of many other non-IPA phonetic symbols.[9] Their collection is extensive enough that the Unicode Consortium used it in the development of Unicode.

ASCII and keyboard transliterations

Several systems have been developed that map the IPA symbols to ASCII characters. Notable systems include Kirshenbaum, Arpabet, SAMPA, and X-SAMPA. The usage of mapping systems in on-line text has to some extent been adopted in the context input methods, allowing convenient keying of IPA characters that would be otherwise unavailable on standard keyboard layouts.

See also

Notes

References

Further reading

External links

  • The International Phonetic Association web site
  • York University IPA Interactive Flash Charts
  • Video recordings of the sounds of IPA by The University of Sheffield
  • Information on IPA by Omniglot
  • IPA Character Picker by Richard Ishida
  • IPA Chart in Unicode and XHTML/CSS
  • IPA copy & paste charts, keyboards, etc by IPA.Webstuff.org
  • Learning the IPA for English, (Standard American English)
  • Various resources including a glossary by Peter Roach.
  • The International Phonetic Alphabet (revised to 2005) Symbols for all languages are shown on this one-page chart
  • Using IPA fonts with Mac OS X: The Comprehensive Guide, an article explaining how to install and use freeware fonts and keyboard layouts to type in the International Phonetic Alphabet on OS X
  • Visual Thesaurus
  • IPA – Introduction This site was especially designed to act as an introduction to the International Phonetic Alphabet as used for English.

Education

  • Interactive Saggital Section
  • Phonetics: the Sounds of English and Spanish Note: requires Flash 7 or higher.
  • IPA Charts with an interactive chart of all IPA letters with their sounds (Flash)

Transcription

  • John Wells, 2004, "Phonetic transcription and analysis", Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics, 2nd ed. – types of IPA transcription, and how to choose appropriate conventions

Sound files

  • AIFF sound files for Peter Ladefoged's Course in Phonetics.
    • Quicktime videos, and exercises.
    • AIFF sound files.
  • Adobe Flash).
  • MP3 sound files for all IPA letters on the chart (limited version is available to anyone)

Unicode charts

  • International Phonetic Alphabet in Unicode
  • Unicode chart for main IPA letters PDF (246.8 KB)
  • Unicode chart for IPA modifier letters PDF (203 KB)
  • Unicode chart including IPA diacritics PDF (231.2 KB)
  • University of Marburg
  • MySQL Unicode collation chart for IPA and other phonetic blocks
  • Penn State.

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