International Phonetic Alphabet

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The International Phonetic Alphabet.
The International Phonetic Alphabet.
"IPA" redirects here. For other uses, see IPA (disambiguation). The NATO phonetic alphabet has also informally been called the International Phonetic Alphabet.

The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is a system of phonetic notation devised by linguists to accurately and uniquely represent each of the wide variety of sounds (phones or phonemes) used in spoken human language. It is intended as a notational standard for the phonemic and phonetic representation of all spoken languages.

For a simplified chart of the main IPA symbols used for English see IPA chart for English.



Main article: History of the International Phonetic Alphabet


The general principle of the IPA is to provide a separate symbol for each speech segment, avoiding letter combinations (digraphs) such as sh and th in English orthography, and avoiding ambiguity such as that of c in English.

The principle of formation

The IPA is what MacMahon (1996) has termed a "selective" phonetic alphabet. It aims to provide a separate symbol for every contrastive (that is, phonemic) sound occurring in human language. For instance, a flap and a tap are two different articulations, but since no language has (yet) been found to make a phonemic distinction between them, the IPA does not provide them with dedicated symbols. Instead, it provides a single symbol, ɾ, that covers both. For non-contrastive (that is, phonetic or subphonemic) details of these sounds, the IPA relies on diacritics, which are optional. Thus there is a certain level of flexibility in representing a language with the IPA.

The principles behind the used symbols

The letters chosen for the IPA are generally drawn from the Latin and Greek alphabets, or are modifications of Latin or Greek letters. There are also a few letters derived from Latin punctuation, such as the glottal stop ʔ (originally an apostrophe, but later given the form of a "gelded" question mark to have the visual impact of the other consonants), and one, ʕ, although Latin in form, was inspired by Arabic ﻉ. In contrast, the old Latin-derived symbols for the clicks have been abandoned in favor of the iconic Khoisanist symbols, such as ǁ.

The sound-values of the consonants from the Latin alphabet correspond to usage in French and Italian, which are close to those of most other European languages as well: [b], [d], [f], (hard) [g], [l], [m], [n], [p], (unvoiced) [s], [t], [v], [z]. English values are used for [h], [k], and [w],

The vowels from the Latin alphabet ([a], [e], [i], [o], [u]) correspond to the vowels of Spanish and are similar to Italian. [i] is like the vowel in piece, [u] like rule, etc.

The other symbols from the Latin alphabet ([c], [j], [q], [r], [x], and [y]) correspond to sounds these letters represent in other languages. [j] has the Germanic value, English y in yoke. [y] has the Scandinavian and Old English value (Finnish y, German y or ü, French u, Dutch u).

Letters that share a particular modification sometimes correspond to a similar type of sound. For example, all the retroflex consonants have the same symbol as the equivalent alveolar consonant, with the addition of a rightward pointing hook at the bottom. Although there is some correspondence between modified letters, generally the IPA does not have a systematic "featural" relationship between graphic shape and articulation. For instance, there is not a consistent relationship between lowercase letters and their small capital counterparts, nor are all labial consonants linked through a common character design.

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.

Types of transcriptions

The International Phonetic Association recommends that a phonetic transcription should be enclosed in square brackets ("[ ]"). A transcription that specifically denotes only phonological contrasts may be enclosed in slashes ("/ /") instead. If one is in doubt, it is best to use brackets, for by setting off a transcription with slashes one makes a theoretical claim that every symbol within is phonemically contrastive for the language being transcribed.

For phonetic transcriptions, there is flexibility in how closely sounds may be transcribed. A transcription that gives only a basic idea of the sounds of a language in the broadest terms is called a "broad transcription"; in some cases this may be equivalent to a phonemic transcription (only without any theoretical claims). A close transcription, indicating precise details of the sounds, is called a "narrow transcription". These are not binary choices, but the ends of a continuum, with many possibilities in between. All are enclosed in brackets.

For example, in some dialects the English word pretzel in a narrow transcription would be [ˈpʰɹ̥ʷɛʔt.sɫ̩], which notes several phonetic features that may not be evident even to a native speaker. An example of a broader transcription is [ˈpʰɹɛt.sɫ̩], which only indicates some of the easier to hear features. A yet broader transcription would be [ˈpɹɛ]. Here every symbol represents an unambiguous speech sound, but without making any claims as to their status in the language.

There are also several possibilities in how to transcribe this word phonemically, but here the differences are not of precision, but of analysis. For example, pretzel could be /ˈprɛtsl/ or /ˈpretsəl/. The special symbol for English r is not used, for it is not meaningful to distinguish it from a rolled r. The differences in the letter e reflect claims as to what the essential difference is between the vowels of pretzel and pray; there are half a dozen ideas in the literature as to what this may be. The second transcription claims that there are two vowels in the word, even if they can't both be heard, while the first claims there is only one.

Occasionally a transcription will be enclosed in pipes ("| |"). This goes beyond phonology into morphological analysis. For example, the words cats and dogs could be transcribed phonetically as [kʰæʔs] and [d̥ɑɡz], and phonemically as /kæts/ and /dɑɡz/. Because /s/ and /z/ are separate phonemes in English (unlike Spanish, for example), they received separate symbols in the phonemic analysis. However, you probably recognize that underneath this, they represent the same plural ending. This can be indicated with the pipe notation. If you believe the plural ending is essentially an s, as English spelling would suggest, the words can be transcribed |kæts| and |dɑɡs|. If, as most linguists would probably suggest, it is essentially a z, these would be |kætz| and |dɑɡz|.

To avoid confusion with IPA symbols, it may be desirable to specify that the native orthography is being used, so that, for example, cats is not read as "chats". This is done with angle brackets or chevrons: 〈cats〉. It is also common to italicize such words, but the chevrons indicate specifically that they are in the original orthography, and not in English transliteration.


Consonants (pulmonic)

Single articulation

Image of the main pulmonic consonants portion of the IPA chart

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

Place of articulation Labial Coronal Dorsal Radical (none)
Manner of articulation Bi­la­bial La­bio‐
Den­tal Al­veo­lar Post‐
Pa­la­tal Ve­lar Uvu­lar Pha­ryn‐
Plosive p b t d ʈ ɖ c ɟ k ɡ q ɢ   ʡ ʔ   
Nasal    m    ɱ    n    ɳ    ɲ    ŋ    ɴ  
Trill    ʙ    r    *    ʀ    *  
Tap or Flap    *        ɾ    ɽ          *  
Lateral Flap      ɺ    *      *    
Fricative ɸ β f v θ ð s z ʃ ʒ ʂ ʐ ç ʝ x ɣ χ ʁ ħ ʕ ʜ ʢ h ɦ
Lateral Fricative ɬ ɮ *    *    *       
Approx­imant    β̞    ʋ    ɹ    ɻ    j    ɰ    (ʁ)    (ʕ)    (ʢ)
Lateral Approx­imant    l    ɭ    ʎ    ʟ


  • Asterisks (*) mark reported sounds that do not (yet) have official IPA symbols. See the articles for ad hoc symbols found in the literature.
  • Daggers (†) mark IPA symbols that do not yet have official Unicode support. Since May 2005, this is the case of the labiodental flap, symbolized by a right-hook v: Labiodental flap
  • In rows where some symbols appear in pairs (the obstruents), the symbol to the right represents a voiced consonant (except for breathy-voiced [ɦ]). However, [ʔ] cannot be voiced. In the other rows (the sonorants), the single symbol represents a voiced consonant.
  • Although there is a single symbol for the coronal places of articulation for all consonants but fricatives, when dealing with a particular language, the symbols are treated as specifically alveolar, post-alveolar, etc., as appropriate for that language.
  • Shaded areas indicate articulations judged to be impossible.
  • The voiced fricative symbols, especially [ʁ, ʕ, ʢ], may be used for either voiced fricatives or approximants.
  • 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.


Image of the miscellaneous symbols portion of the IPA chart

ʍ Voiceless labialized velar approximant
w Voiced labialized velar approximant
ɥ Voiced labialized palatal approximant
ɕ Voiceless palatalized postalveolar (alveolo-palatal) fricative
ʑ Voiced palatalized postalveolar (alveolo-palatal) fricative
ɧ Voiceless "palatal-velar" fricative


  • [ɧ] is described as a "simultaneous [ʃ] and [x]". However, this analysis is disputed. See the article for discussion.
  • To be complete, this chart should also include the semi-palatalized postalveolar (palato-alveolar) fricatives [ʃ] and [ʒ].
  • The miscellaneous portion of the chart, as published by the IPA, includes additional symbols that would have been included in the main consonant chart were it not for difficulties in typesetting on a printed page. In this article, which does not suffer from such problems, they have been included in the main chart above.

Consonants (non-pulmonic)

Image of the non-pulmonic consonants portion of the IPA chart

Click releases 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


  • All clicks are doubly articulated and require two symbols: a velar or uvular stop, plus a symbol for the release: [k͡ǂ, ɡ͡ǂ, ŋ͡ǂ, q͡ǂ, ɢ͡ǂ, ɴ͡ǂ], etc. When the dorsal articulation is omitted, a [k] may usually be assumed.
  • Symbols for the voiceless implosives [ƥ, ƭ, ƈ, ƙ, ʠ] are no longer supported by the IPA. Instead, the voiced equivalent is used with a voiceless diacritic: [ɓ̥, ʛ̥], etc.
  • Although not confirmed from any language, and therefore not "explicitly recognized" by the IPA, a retroflex implosive, [ᶑ], is supported in the Unicode Phonetic Extensions Supplement, added in version 4.1 of the Unicode Standard.
  • The ejective symbol is also used for glottalized but pulmonic sonorants, such as [mʼ], [lʼ], [wʼ], [aʼ].


Image of the vowels portion of the IPA chart

Edit - Front N.-front Central N.-back Back
i • y
ɨ • ʉ
ɯ • u
ɪ • ʏ
• ʊ
e • ø
ɘ • ɵ
ɤ • o
ɛ • œ
ɜ • ɞ
ʌ • ɔ
a • ɶ
ɑ • ɒ


  • Where symbols appear in pairs, the one to the right represents a rounded vowel, as does [ʊ] (at least prototypically). All others are unrounded.
  • [ɶ] is not confirmed as a distinct phoneme in any language.
  • [a] and [ɶ] are officially front vowels, but there is little distinction between front and central low vowels, and the symbols are frequently used for the central vowels as well.

Affricates and double articulation

Affricates and doubly articulated stops are represented by two symbols joined by a tie bar either above or below the symbols, or optionally by a ligature for the six commonest affricates, though this is no longer official IPA usage, due to the great number of ligatures that would be required to represent all affricates this way. A third method sometimes seen is to use the superscript notation for a fricative release, such as for t͡s, paralleling ~ k͡x. In former editions of the IPA, the palatal plosives c ɟ were often used as a convenience for [t​͡ʃ d​͡ʒ], and this is still sometimes seen.

Tie bar Ligature Description
t​͡s ʦ voiceless alveolar affricate
d​͡z ʣ voiced alveolar affricate
t​͡ʃ ʧ voiceless postalveolar affricate
d​͡ʒ ʤ voiced postalveolar affricate
t​͡ɕ ʨ voiceless alveolo-palatal affricate
d​͡ʑ ʥ voiced alveolo-palatal affricate
t​͡ɬ  – voiceless alveolar lateral affricate
k͡p  – voiceless labial-velar plosive
ɡ͡b  – voiced labial-velar plosive
ŋ͡m  – labial-velar nasal stop


  • If your browser uses Arial Unicode MS to display IPA characters, these incorrectly formed character combinations may look better due to a bug in that typeface: ts͡, tʃ͡, tɕ͡, dz͡, dʒ͡, dʑ͡, kp͡, ɡb͡, ŋm͡.

Extended IPA

The Extended IPA was designed for disordered speech. However, some of the symbols (especially diacritics, below) are occasionally used for transcribing normal speech as well.

View a pdf file here.

ʩ Velopharyngeal fricative (often occurs with a cleft palate)
ʪ Lateralized [s] (lisp)
ʫ Lateralized [z] (lisp)
ʬ Bilabial percussive (smacking lips)
ʭ Bidental percussive (gnashing teeth)
¡ Sublaminal lower alveolar click (sucking tongue)

The last symbol may be used with the alveolar click for [ǃ¡], a combined alveolar and sublaminal click or "cluck-click".


Image of the suprasegmentals portion of the IPA chart

ˈ Primary stress
ˌ Secondary stress
ː Long (long vowel or geminate consonant)
ˑ Half-long
˘ Extra-short
. Syllable break
| Minor (foot) group
Major (intonation) group
Linking (absence of a break)

Tone and intonation

IPA allows for the use of either tone diacritics or tone letters to indicate tones.

e̋ or ˥ Extra high
é or ˦ High
ē or ˧ Mid
è or ˨ Low
ȅ or ˩ Extra low
ě Rise
ê Fall
e Downstep
e Upstep
Global rise
Global fall


  • With regard to tone diacritics, Unicode encodes marks for some contour tones, but not all. In Unicode version 4.1, only hacek (rising) and circumflex (falling) diacritics were encoded. Subsequent versions may also include six additional diacritics for contour tones, such as the macron-acute and the grave-acute-grave ligatures. Note that contour tone diacritics are not encoded as sequences of level tone diacritics in Unicode.
  • With regard to tone letters, Unicode does not have separate encodings for contour tones. Instead, sequences of level tone letters are used, with proper display dependent on the font, usually by means of OpenType font rendition: [˥˩] or [˦˥˧]. (These are probably not displaying correctly in your browser. See the image for a few representative examples of how they should appear.) Since very few fonts support such combinations of tone letters, a common solution is to use the old system of superscript numerals from '1' to '5', for example [e53, e312]. However, this depends on local linguistic tradition, with '5' generally being high and '1' being low for Asian languages, but '1' being high and '5' low for African languages. An old IPA convention sometimes still seen is to use sub-diacritics for low contour tones: [e̖, e̗] for low-falling and low-rising.
  • The upstep and downstep modifiers are superscript arrows. Unicode version 4.1 does not encode these, though subsequent versions will. The arrows for upstep and downstep should not be confused with the full-height arrows, which are used to indicate airflow direction.


Image of the diacritics portion of the IPA chart
Sub-diacritics may be placed above a symbol with a descender, i.e. ŋ̊. The dotless i, <ı>, is used when the dot would interfere with the diacritic.

n̥ d̥ Voiceless b̤ a̤ Breathy voiced 1 t̪ d̪ Dental
s̬ t̬ Voiced b̰ a̰ Creaky voiced t̺ d̺ Apical
tʰ dʰ Aspirated 2 t̼ d̼ Linguolabial t̻ d̻ Laminal
ɔ̹ x̹ More rounded tʷ dʷ Labialized Nasalized
ɔ̜ x̜ʷ Less rounded tʲ dʲ Palatalized dⁿ Nasal release
u̟ t̟ Advanced tˠ dˠ Velarized Lateral release
i̠ t̠ Retracted tˁ dˁ Pharyngealized No audible release
ë Centralized ɫ Velarized or pharyngealized
Mid-centralized e̝ ɹ̝ Raised (ɹ̝ = voiced alveolar nonsibilant fricative)
ɹ̩ Syllabic e̞ β̞ Lowered (β̞ = bilabial approximant)
Non-syllabic Advanced tongue root
ɚ Rhoticity Retracted tongue root


  1. Some linguists restrict this breathy-voice diacritic to sonorants, and transcribe obstruents as .
  2. With aspirated voiced consonants, the aspiration is also voiced. Many linguists prefer one of the diacritics dedicated to breathy voice.

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:

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

Extended IPA diacritics

Some of these are occasionally used for non-disordered speech.

Labial spreading Strong articulation Denasal
Dentolabial Weak articulation Nasal escape
n̪͆ Interdental/bidental p\p\p Stutter (reiterated articulation) Velopharyngeal friction
Alveolar Whistled articulation p↓ Ingressive airflow
Linguolabial s͢θ Slurred/sliding articulation !↑ Egressive airflow
ʰp Pre-aspiration p⁼ Unaspirated Whispery
₍s̬₎ Partial voicing ₍s̬ Initial partial voicing s̬₎ Final partial voicing
₍z̥₎ Partial devoicing ₍z̥ Initial partial devoicing z̥₎ Final partial devoicing
  ̬z Pre-voicing z ̬ Post-voicing a ̰ Creaky offglide

Obsolete and nonstandard symbols

ɩ Iota, rejected 1989 in favor of [ɪ]
ɷ Closed omega, rejected 1989 in favor of [ʊ]
ʚ Closed epsilon, a mistake for [ɞ]
ɼ Long-leg R, voiced strident apico-alveolar trill (Czech ř), withdrawn 1989, = [r̝]
ɿ Reversed fishhook R / turned iota, apical dental vowel used by Sinologists, = [z̩]
ʅ Squat reversed esh (actually ɿ with retroflex tail), apical retroflex vowel used by Sinologists, = [ʐ̩]
ʆ Curly-tail esh, withdrawn 1989, = [ʃʲ]
ʓ Curly-tail ezh, withdrawn 1989, = [ʒʲ]
ƫ Left-hook T, withdrawn 1989, = [tʲ]
etc. Subscript left hook, superseded 1989 by [dʲ] etc.
σ = [θʷ, sʷ]
ƍ = [ðʷ, zʷ]
ƪ = [ʃʷ]
ƺ = [ʒʷ]
etc. Subscript w, superseded 1989 by [kʷ] etc.
ɑ̢ etc. = [ɑ˞] etc. ("retroflex" or r-colored vowels)
ʇ Turned T, superseded 1989 by [ǀ]
ʖ Inverted glottal stop, superseded 1989 by [ǁ]
ʗ Stretched C, superseded 1989 by [ǃ]
ʞ Proposed symbol for velar click, withdrawn 1970
ƥ, ƭ, ƈ, ƙ, ʠ Hooktop P, T, C, K, Q, withdrawn 1993, = [ɓ̥ ɗ̥ ʄ̥ ɠ̥ ʛ̥]
ƞ Right-leg N, withdrawn 1976, = [n̩]
š Americanist usage, = [ʃ]
ž Americanist usage, = [ʒ]
č Americanist usage, = [t͡ʃ]
ǰ, ǧ, ǯ Americanist, Slavicist etc. usage, = [d͡ʒ]
ƛ Americanist usage, = [t͡ɬ]
λ Americanist usage, = [d͡ɮ]
ƾ Withdrawn 1976, = [t͡s]
ƻ Barred two, withdrawn 1976, = [d͡z]

Names of the symbols

It is often desirable to distinguish an IPA symbol from the sound it is intended to represent, since there is not a one-to-one correspondance between symbol and sound in broad transcription. The symbol's names and phonetic descriptions are described in the Handbook of the International Phonetic Association. 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 letters

The traditional names of the Latin and Greek letters are used for unmodified symbols. In Unicode, some of the symbols of Greek origin have Latin forms for use in IPA; the others use the symbols from the Greek section.


IPA symbol name phonetic description Unicode name
p (lower-case) P voiceless bilabial plosive LATIN SMALL LETTER P
x (lower-case) X voiceless velar fricative LATIN SMALL LETTER X
r (lower-case) R coronal trill LATIN SMALL LETTER R
β beta voiced bilabial fricative GREEK SMALL LETTER BETA
ɛ epsilon open-mid front unrounded vowel LATIN SMALL LETTER OPEN E
ɣ gamma voiced velar fricative LATIN SMALL LETTER GAMMA
θ theta voiceless dental fricative GREEK SMALL LETTER THETA
χ chi voiceless uvular fricative GREEK SMALL LETTER CHI
ɸ phi voiceless bilabial fricative LATIN SMALL LETTER PHI
ʊ upsilon 1 near-close near-back rounded vowel LATIN SMALL LETTER UPSILON


  1. The Latin "upsilon" is frequently called "horseshoe u" in order to distinguish it from the Greek upsilon. Historically, it derives from a Latin small capital U.

The IPA standard includes some small capital letters, such as ʀ, although it is common to refer to these symbols as simply "capital" or "cap" letters, because the IPA standard does not include any full-size capital letters.

A few letters have the forms of cursive or script letters. Examples:

IPA symbol name phonetic description Unicode name
ɑ script A open back unrounded vowel LATIN SMALL LETTER ALPHA
ɡ opentail G 1 voiced velar plosive LATIN SMALL LETTER SCRIPT G
ʋ cursive V 2 labiodental approximant LATIN SMALL LETTER V WITH HOOK


  1. The "looptail G" is not strictly an IPA character, but is an acceptable alternative.
  2. In form and origin, but not in name, this is the Greek upsilon.

Ligatures are called precisely that, although some have alternate names. Examples:

IPA symbol name phonetic description Unicode name
œ (lower-case) o-e ligature open-mid front rounded vowel LATIN SMALL LIGATURE OE
ɮ L-Ezh ligature voiced coronal lateral fricative LATIN SMALL LETTER LEZH
æ ash; (lower-case) a-e ligature near-open front unrounded vowel LATIN SMALL LETTER AE

Many letters are turned, or rotated 180 degrees. Examples:

IPA symbol name phonetic description Unicode name
ʎ turned Y palatal lateral approximant LATIN SMALL LETTER TURNED Y
ɥ turned H labial-palatal approximant LATIN SMALL LETTER TURNED H
ɒ turned script A open back rounded vowel LATIN SMALL LETTER TURNED ALPHA
ʌ turned V open-mid back unrounded vowel LATIN SMALL TURNED V
ɔ open O open-mid back rounded vowel LATIN SMALL LETTER OPEN O

The symbol ɔ can be described as a turned cee, but it is almost always referred to as open o, which described both its articulation and its shape. The symbol ʌ is often also called "caret" or "wedge" for it similarity to that diacritic.

A few letters are reversed (flipped on a vertical axis): ɘ reversed E, ɜ reversed epsilon, ʕ reversed glottal stop [often called by its Arabic name, ayin].

One letter is inverted (flipped on a horizontal axis): ʁ inverted R. (ʍ could also be called an inverted double-u, but turned double-u is more common.)

When a horizontal stroke is added, it is called a bar: ħ barred H, ɵ barred o, ʢ reversed barred glottal stop or barred ayin, ɟ barred dotless J or barred gelded J [apparently never 'turned F'], ǂ double-barred pipe, etc.

One letter instead has a slash through it: ø slashed O.

The implosives have hook tops: ɓ hook-top B, as does ɦ hook-top H.

Such an extension at the bottom of a letter is called a tail. It may be specified as left or right depending on which direction it turns: ɳ right-tail N, ɻ right-tail turned R, ɲ left-tail N [note that ŋ has its own traditional name, engma], ɱ left-tail em, ʐ tail Z [or just retroflex Z], etc.

When the tail loops over itself, it's called curly: ʝ curly-tail jay, ɕ curly-tail C.

There are also a few unique modifications: ɬ belted L, ɞ closed reversed epsilon [there was once also a ɷ closed omega], ɰ right-leg turned M, ɺ turned long-leg R [there was once also a long-leg R], ǁ double pipe, and the obsolete ʗ stretched C.

Several non-English letters have traditional names: ç C cedilla, ð eth (also spelled edh), ŋ engma, ə schwa, ǃ exclamation mark, ǀ pipe.

Other symbols are unique to the IPA, and have developed their own quirky names: ɾ fish-hook R, ɤ ram's horns, ʘ bull's eye, ʃ esh [apparently never 'stretched ess'], ʒ ezh [sometimes also yogh], ɧ hook-top heng.

The ʔ is usually called by the sound it represents, glottal stop. This is not normally a problem, because this symbol is seldom used to represent anything else. However, to specify the symbol itself, it is sometimes called a gelded question mark.

The diacritic marks

Diacritics with traditional names: é acute, ē macron, è grave, ê circumflex, ě caron, ë diaeresis, ĕ breve, (superscript) tilde, subscript tilde, ɫ superimposed tilde.

And so forth. The voicing diacritic is a subscript wedge.

Non-traditional diacritics:

seagull, hook, over-cross, d ̚ corner, bridge, inverted bridge, square, under-ring, over-ring, left half-ring, right half-ring, plus, under-bar, arch, up tack, down tack, left tack, right tack, d͡z tie bar, under-dot, under-stroke.

Diacritics are also named after their function: the bridge is also called the dental sign, etc.

Comparison to other phonetic notation

The IPA is not the only phonetic transcription system in use. The other common Latin-based system is the Americanist phonetic notation, devised for representing American languages, but used by some US linguists as an alternate to the IPA. There are also sets of symbols specific to Slavic, Indic, Finno-Ugric, and Caucasian linguistics, as well as other regional specialies. The differences between these alphabets and IPA are relatively small, although often the special characters of the IPA are abandoned in favour of diacritics or digraphs.

Other alphabets, such as Hangul, may have their own phonetic extensions. There also exist featural phonetic transcription systems, such as Alexander Bell's Visible Speech and its derivatives.

There is an extended version of the IPA for disordered speech (extIPA), which has been included in this article, and another set of symbols used for voice quality (VoQS). There are also many personal or idiosyncratic extensions, such as Luciano Canepari's canIPA.

Since the IPA uses symbols that are outside the ASCII character set, several systems have been developed that map the IPA symbols to ASCII characters. Two notable systems are Kirshenbaum and SAMPA (or X-SAMPA). These systems are often used in electronic media, although their usage has been declining with the development of computer technology, specifically because of spreading support for Unicode.

See also: Unicode and HTML

See also

External links


  • Albright, Robert W. (1958). The International Phonetic Alphabet: Its background and development. International journal of American linguistics (Vol. 24, No. 1, Part 3); Indiana University research center in anthropology, folklore, and linguistics, publ. 7. Baltimore. (Doctoral dissertation, Standford University, 1953).
  • Ball, Martin J.; Esling, John H.; & Dickson, B. Craig. (1995). The VoQS system for the transcription of voice quality. Journal of the International Phonetic Alphabet, 25 (2), 71-80.
  • Canepari, Luciano. (2005a). "A Handbook of Phonetics: ‹Natural› Phonetics." München: Lincom Europa, pp. 518. ISBN 3-8958-480-3 (hb).
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