Help:International Phonetic Alphabet
What is IPA?
The International Phonetic Alphabet was developed in order to be able to write down the sounds of any spoken language.
How do I use it?
Wikipedia has an introduction to IPA and tables for the symbol sets of many languages.
There are several types of transcription:
Phonemic transcriptions are put into between slashes. Only phonemes are transcribed: that means there is only one symbol for /r/ and /l/ and the different variants of this sound (clear l vs. dark l or rolled r vs. trilled r) are ignored.
- /pɪl/ (pill)
Phonetic transcriptions go more into detail. Broad phonetic transcriptions use different symbols for allophones (e.g. dark l and clear l). Narrow phonetic transcription are even more detailed and additionally use diacritic signs to indicate things like nasalization of vowels, aspiration etc.
- [pɪɫ] (pill) - broad transcription
- [pʰɪɫ] (pill) - narrow transcription
For now, we are using phonemic transcription because it is the simplest and most widely understandable. Phonetic transcription might be useful in the future to give a more detailed insight into the pronunciation of words in different dialects of the same language.