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Department of Linguistics


International Phonetic Alphabet

Jonathan Harrington and Robert Mannell

"The aim of the International Phonetic Association is to promote the study of the science of phonetics and the various practical applications of that science. For both these it is desirable to have a consistent way of representing the sounds of language in written form. From its foundation in 1886 the Association has been concerned to develop a set of symbols which would be convenient to use, but comprehensive enough to cope with the wide variety of sounds found in the languages of the world; and to encourage the use of this notation as widely as possible among those concerned with language. The system is generally known as the International Phonetic Alphabet. Both the Association and its Alphabet are widely referred to by the abbreviation IPA ... . The IPA is based on the Roman alphabet, which has the advantage of being widely familiar, but also includes letters and additional symbols from a variety of other sources. These additions are necessary because the variety of sounds in languages is much greater than the number of letters in the Roman alphabet. The use of sequences of phonetic symbols to represent speech is known as transcription."

Handbook of the International Phonetic Association (Cambridge University Press, 1999, p3)

The version of the IPA presented on these pages is the version revised to 2005.


1) To introduce students to the transcription of the languages of the world using the IPA. Given the short time allocated to this task in the current course, students are only expected to gain a very basic skill level. Students will be assessed on their acquisition of this basic skill level and are expected to be able to transcribe simple syllables containing the vowel and consonant symbols shown in red on the IPA tables.

2) To introduce students to all of the vowel, consonant and diacritic symbols used in this course. Students in all courses are expected to learn all of the symbols (both black and red symbols) on the IPA tables. Students are also expected to be able to associate with those symbols their various phonetic features. Students will be assessed by examination and assessment.


1) IPA Consonant Symbols

2) IPA Vowel Symbols

3) IPA Diacritics

4) Practice Words for IPA Transcription