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Help:International Phonetic Alphabet

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What is IPA?[edit]

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?[edit]

Wikipedia has an introduction to IPA and tables for the symbol sets of many languages.

There are several types of transcription:

1. phonemic transcription[edit]

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)

2. phonetic transcription[edit]

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.