International Phonetic Alphabet

International Phonetic Alphabet
"IPA" in IPA ([aɪ̯ pʰiː eɪ̯])
Script type
– partially featural
Time period
1888 to present
LanguagesUsed for phonetic and phonemic transcription of any oral language
Related scripts
Parent systems
The official chart of the IPA, revised in 2020

The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is an alphabetic system of phonetic notation based primarily on the Latin script. It was devised by the International Phonetic Association in the late 19th century as a standardized representation of speech sounds in written form.[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 those qualities of speech that are part of lexical (and, to a limited extent, prosodic) sounds in oral language: phones, intonation and the separation of 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 may be used.[2]

Segments are transcribed by one or more IPA symbols of two basic types: letters and diacritics. For example, the sound of the English digraph ⟨ch⟩ may be transcribed in IPA with a single letter: [c], or with multiple letters plus diacritics: [t̠̺͡ʃʰ], depending on how precise one wishes to be. Slashes are used to signal phonemic transcription; therefore, /tʃ/ is more abstract than either [t̠̺͡ʃʰ] or [c] and might refer to either, depending on the context and language.[note 1]

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 segmental letters, an indefinitely large number of suprasegmental letters, 44 diacritics (not counting composites), and four extra-lexical prosodic marks in the IPA. These are illustrated in the current IPA chart, posted below in this article and at the website of the IPA.[5]

  1. ^ a b International Phonetic Association 1999
  2. ^ a b MacMahon, Michael K. C. (1996). "Phonetic Notation". In Daniels, P. T.; Bright, W. (eds.). The World's Writing Systems. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 821–846. ISBN 0-19-507993-0.
  3. ^ Wall, Joan (1989). International Phonetic Alphabet for Singers: A Manual for English and Foreign Language Diction. Pst. ISBN 1-877761-50-8.
  4. ^ "IPA: Alphabet". Archived from the original on 10 October 2012. Retrieved 20 November 2012.
  5. ^ "Full IPA Chart". International Phonetic Association. Archived from the original on 27 February 2017. Retrieved 24 April 2017.

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