• International Phonetic Alphabet

    International Phonetic Alphabet

    • International Phonetic Alphabet
      IPA in IPA.svg
      Alphabet, partially featural
      Languages Used for phonetic and phonemic transcription of any language
      Time period
      since 1888
      Parent systems
      Romic alphabet
      Direction Left-to-right
      ISO 15924 Latn, 215
      Unicode alias
      IPA vowel chart
      Front Near-​front Central Near-​back Back
      Blank vowel trapezoid.svg
      i • y
      ɨ • ʉ
      ɯ • u
      ɪ • ʏ
      ɪ̈ • ʊ̈
      ɯ̽ • ʊ
      e • ø
      ɘ • ɵ
      ɤ • o
       • ø̞
      ə • ɵ̞
      ɤ̞ • 
      ɛ • œ
      ɜ • ɞ
      ʌ • ɔ
      æ • 
      ɐ • ɞ̞
      a • ɶ
      ä • ɒ̈
      ɑ • ɒ
      Paired vowels are: unrounded • rounded
      This table contains phonetic symbols, which may not display correctly in some browsers. [Help]

      IPA help • IPA key • chart • Loudspeaker.svg chart with audio •

      The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) 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 spoken language. The IPA is used by lexicographers, foreign language students and teachers, linguists, speech-language pathologists, singers, actors, constructed language creators, and translators.

      The IPA is designed to represent only those qualities of speech that are part of oral language: phones, phonemes, intonation, and the separation of words and syllables. To represent additional qualities of speech, such as tooth gnashing, lisping, and sounds made with a cleft lip and cleft palate, an extended set of symbols, the extensions to the International Phonetic Alphabet, may be used.

      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. 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.

      View this table as an image
      Tie bar Ligature Description
      t͡s ʦ voiceless alveolar affricate
      d͡z ʣ voiced alveolar affricate
      t͡ʃ ʧ voiceless postalveolar affricate
      d͡ʒ ʤ voiced postalveolar affricate
      t͡ɕ ʨ voiceless alveolo-palatal affricate
      d͡ʑ ʥ voiced alveolo-palatal affricate
      t͡ɬ  – voiceless alveolar lateral affricate
      k͡p  – voiceless labial-velar plosive
      ɡ͡b  – voiced labial-velar plosive
      ŋ͡m  – labial-velar nasal stop
      View this table as an image
      Clicks Implosives Ejectives
      ʘ Bilabial ɓ Bilabial ʼ For example:
      ǀ Laminal alveolar ("dental") ɗ Alveolar Bilabial
      ǃ Apical (post-)alveolar ("retroflex") ʄ Palatal Alveolar
      ǂ Laminal postalveolar ("palatal") ɠ Velar Velar
      ǁ Lateral coronal ("lateral") ʛ Uvular Alveolar fricative
      View the diacritic table as an image
      Syllabicity diacritics
      ◌̩ ɹ̩ n̩ Syllabic ◌̯ ɪ̯ ʊ̯ Non-syllabic
      ◌̍ ɻ̍ ŋ̍ ◌̑
      Consonant-release diacritics
      ◌ʰ Aspirated ◌̚ No audible release
      ◌ⁿ dⁿ Nasal release ◌ˡ Lateral release
      ◌ᶿ tᶿ Voiceless dental fricative release ◌ˣ Voiceless velar fricative release
      ◌ᵊ dᵊ Mid central vowel release
      Phonation diacritics
      ◌̥ n̥ d̥ Voiceless ◌̬ s̬ t̬ Voiced
      ◌̊ ɻ̊ ŋ̊
      ◌̤ b̤ a̤ Breathy voiced ◌̰ b̰ a̰ Creaky voiced
      Articulation diacritics
      ◌̪ t̪ d̪ Dental ◌̼ t̼ d̼ Linguolabial
      ◌̺ t̺ d̺ Apical ◌̻ t̻ d̻ Laminal
      ◌̟ u̟ t̟ Advanced ◌̠ i̠ t̠ Retracted
      ◌˖ ɡ˖ ◌˗ y˗ ŋ˗
      ◌̈ ë ä Centralized ◌̽ e̽ ɯ̽ Mid-centralized
      ◌̝ e̝ r̝ Raised
      ( is a voiced alveolar
      fricative trill
      ◌̞ e̞ β̞ Lowered
      ([β̞] is a bilabial
      ◌˔ ɭ˔ ◌˕ ɣ˕
      Co-articulation diacritics
      ◌̹ ɔ̹ x̹ More rounded ◌̜ ɔ̜ xʷ̜ Less rounded
      ◌ʷ tʷ dʷ Labialized or labio-velarized ◌ʲ tʲ dʲ Palatalized
      ◌ᶣ tᶣ dᶣ Labio-palatalized ◌ᶹ tᶹ Labialized without protrusion of the lips or velarization
      ◌ˠ tˠ dˠ Velarized ◌ˤ tˤ aˤ Pharyngealized
      ◌̴ ɫ Velarized, uvularized
      or pharyngealized
      ◌̘ e̘ o̘ Advanced tongue root ◌̙ e̙ o̙ Retracted tongue root
      ◌̃ ẽ z̃ Nasalized ◌˞ ɚ ɝ Rhotacized
      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
      View this table as an image
      Length, stress, and rhythm
      ˈa Primary stress (symbol goes
      before stressed element)
      ˌa Secondary stress (symbol goes
      before stressed element)
      aː kː Long (long vowel or
      geminate consonant)
      ə̆ Extra-short (may be placed under
      the letter to avoid an ascender, as in ʡ̮.)
      a.a Syllable break s‿a Linking (absence of a break)
      | Minor (foot) break Major (intonation) break
      Global rise Global fall
      Tone diacritics and tone letters
      ŋ̋ e̋ Extra high / top ꜛke Upstep
      ŋ́ é High ŋ̌ ě Rising (generic)
      ŋ̄ ē Mid
      ŋ̀ è Low ŋ̂ ê Falling (generic)
      ŋ̏ ȅ Extra low / bottom ꜜke Downstep

      ^a With aspirated voiced consonants, the aspiration is usually also voiced (voiced aspirated – but see aspirated voiced). Many linguists prefer one of the diacritics dedicated to breathy voice over simple aspiration, such as ⟨⟩. Some linguists restrict this diacritic to sonorants, and transcribe obstruents as ⟨⟩.
      ^b The overstruck tilde is not recommended where it would be typographically unclear. It is also deprecated in Unicode, with precomposed letters preferred. (See pharyngealization for available combinations.)
      • International Phonetic Alphabet
      • 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 do "hard" and "soft" ⟨c⟩ or ⟨g⟩ in several 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".
      • [square brackets] are used with phonetic notations, possibly including details of the pronunciation that may not be used for distinguishing words in the language being transcribed, but which the author nonetheless wishes to document.
      • /slashes/ are used for phonemic notations, which note only features that are distinctive in the language, without any extraneous detail.
      • 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.
      • Double square brackets ⟦...⟧ are used for extra-precise transcription. They indicate that a letter has its cardinal IPA value. For example, ⟦a⟧ is a low front vowel, rather than the perhaps slightly different value (such as low central) that "[a]" may be used to transcribe in a particular language. Thus two vowels transcribed for easy legibility as ⟨[e]⟩ and ⟨[ɛ]⟩ may be clarified as actually being ⟦e̝⟧ and ⟦e⟧; ⟨[ð]⟩ may be more precisely ⟦ð̠̞ˠ⟧.
      • 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.
      • {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.)) or ⸨2 syll.⸩, two audible but unidentifiable syllables.
      • 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. 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.
      • It is primarily the shape of the tongue rather than its position that distinguishes the fricatives [ʃ ʒ], [ɕ ʑ], and [ʂ ʐ].
      • Some listed phones are not known to exist as phonemes in any language.
      • 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.
      • [ɧ] is described as a "simultaneous [ʃ] and [x]". However, this analysis is disputed. (See voiceless palatal-velar fricative for discussion.)
      • Multiple tie bars can be used: ⟨a͡b͡c⟩ or ⟨a͜b͜c⟩. For instance, if a prenasalized stop is transcribed ⟨m͡b⟩, and a doubly articulated stop ⟨ɡ͡b⟩, then a prenasalized doubly articulated stop would be ⟨ŋ͡m͡ɡ͡b
      • Clicks have traditionally been described as double articulation of a forward 'release' and a rear 'accompaniment', with the click letters representing only the release. Therefore, all clicks 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' and the idea that clicks are doubly articulated, with the rear occlusion instead simply being part of the airstream mechanims. 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,  ⟩, has been assigned an IPA number.
      • 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].
      • 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. 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⟩.
      • vere /vere/ 'blood []', veere /veːre/ 'edge []', veere /veːːre/ 'roll [imp. 2nd sg.]'
      • lina /linɑ/ 'sheet', linna /linːɑ/ 'town [gen. sg.]', linna /linːːɑ/ 'town [ine. sg.]'
      • Rhoticity in Badaga /be/ "mouth", /be˞/ "bangle", and /be˞˞/ "crop".
      • Aspiration, for example contrasting Korean mild aspiration [kʰ] with strong aspiration [kʰʰ].
      • Nasalization, as in Palantla Chinantec /ẽ/ vs /e͌/.
      • Weak vs strong ejectives, [kʼ], [k”]
      • Especially lowered, e.g. [t̞̞] (or [t̞˕], if the former symbol does not display properly) for /t/ as a weak fricative in some pronunciations of register.
      • Especially retracted (at least on a vowel), e.g. [ø̠̠], though, depending on the font, on a consonant this could be confused with alveolar or alveolarized notation from the extIPA, though such an issue can be easily avoided by placing the second diacritic to the right of the letter ([ø̠˗]), rather than below the first diacritic.
      • The transcription of strident and harsh voice as extra-creaky /a᷽/ may be motivated by the similarities of these phonations.
      • Affricates, such as the Americanist barred lambdaƛ⟩ for [t͜ɬ] or ⟨č⟩ for [t͡ʃ]. Some authors find the tie bars displeasing but the lack of tie bars confusing (i.e. ⟨č⟩ for /t͡ʃ/ as distinct from /tʃ/), while others simply prefer to have one letter for each segmental phoneme in a language.
      • Digits for tonal phonemes that have conventional numbers in a local tradition, such as the four tones of Standard Chinese. This may be more convenient for comparison between languages and dialects than a phonetic transcription because tones often vary more than segmental phonemes do.
      • Digits for tone levels, though the lack of standardization can cause confusion (with e.g. "1" for high tone in some languages but for low tone in others).
      • Iconic extensions of standard IPA letters that can be readily understood, such as retroflex ⟨ᶑ ⟩ and ⟨ꞎ⟩.
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    • International Phonetic Alphabet