jeudi 10 février 2011

The sounds of English and the International Phonetic Alphabet



This chart contains all the sounds (phonemes) used in the English language. For each sound, it gives:
·         The symbol from the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), as used in phonetic transcriptions in modern dictionaries for English learners — that is, in A. C. Gimson's phonemic system with a few additional symbols.
The chart represents British and American phonemes with one symbol. One symbol can mean two different phonemes in American and British English. See the footnotes for British-only and American-only symbols.
  • Two English words which use the sound. The underline shows where the sound is heard.
  • The links labeled Amer and Brit play sound recordings (you need Flash 9 or higher) where the words are pronounced in American and British English. The British version is given only where it is very different from the American version.
vowels
IPA
examples
listen

ʌ
cup, luck

ɑ:
arm, father

æ
cat, black

e
met, bed
1
ə
away, cinema
2
ɜ:ʳ
turn, learn
2
ɪ
hit, sitting

i:
see, heat

ɒ
hot, rock
3
ɔ:
call, four
4 5
ʊ
put, could

u:
blue, food

aɪ
five, eye

aʊ
now, out

eɪ
say, eight

oʊ
go, home
6
ɔɪ
boy, join

ʳ
where, air
1 7
ɪəʳ
near, here
7
ʊəʳ
pure, tourist
7
consonants
IPA
examples
listen

b
bad, lab

d
did, lady

f
find, if

g
give, flag

h
how, hello

j
yes, yellow

k
cat, back

l
leg, little

m
man, lemon

n
no, ten

ŋ
sing, finger

p
pet, map

r
red, try

s
sun, miss

ʃ
she, crash

t
tea, getting
8
tʃ
check, church

θ
think, both

ð
this, mother

v
voice, five

w
wet, window

z
zoo, lazy

ʒ
pleasure, vision

dʒ
just, large

1
Almost all dictionaries use the e symbol for the vowel in bed. The problem with this convention is that e in the IPA does not stand for the vowel in bed; it stands for a different vowel that is heard, for example, in the German word Seele, or at the beginning of the eɪ sound in English. The “proper” symbol for the bed vowel is ɛ (do not confuse with ɜ:). The same goes for vs. ɛə.
2
In əʳ and ɜ:ʳ, the ʳ is not pronounced in BrE, unless the sound comes before a vowel (as in answering, answer it). In AmE, the ʳ is always pronounced, and the sounds are sometimes written as ɚ and ɝ.
3
In AmE, ɑ: and ɒ are one vowel, so calm and cot have the same vowel. In American transcriptions, hot is written as hɑ:t.
4
About 40% of Americans pronounce ɔ: the same way as ɑ:, so that caught and cot have the same vowel. See cot-caught merger.
5
In American transcriptions, ɔ: is often written as ɒ: (e.g. law = lɒ:), unless it is followed by r, in which case it remains an ɔ:.
6
In British transcriptions, oʊ is usually represented as əʊ. For some BrE speakers, oʊ is more appropriate (they use a rounded vowel) — for others, the proper symbol is əʊ. For American speakers, oʊ is usually more accurate.
7
In ʳ ɪəʳ ʊəʳ, the r is not pronounced in BrE, unless the sound comes before a vowel (as in dearest, dear Ann). In AmE, the r is always pronounced, and the sounds are often written as er ɪr ʊr.
8
In American English, t is often pronounced as a “flap t”, which sounds like d or (more accurately) like the quick, hard r heard e.g. in the Spanish word pero. For example: letter. Some dictionaries use a special symbol for the flap t.
special symbols
IPA
what it means
ˈ
The vertical line (ˈ) is used to show word stress. It is placed before the stressed syllable in a word. For example, /ˈkɒntrækt/ is pronounced like this, and /kənˈtrækt/ like that. Word stress is explained in our article about phonetic transcription.
ʳ
ʳ is not a sound — it is a short way of saying that an r is pronounced only in American English. For example, if you write that the pronunciation of bar is /bɑ:ʳ/, you mean that it is /bɑ:r/ in American English, and /bɑ:/ in British English.
However, in BrE, r will be heard if ʳ is followed by a vowel. For example, far gone is pronounced /ˈfɑ: ˈgɒn/ in BrE, but far out is pronounced /ˈfɑ: ˈraʊt/.
i
i is usually pronounced like a shorter version of i:, but sometimes (especially in an old-fashioned British accent) it can sound like ɪ. Examples: very /ˈveri/, create /kriˈeɪt/, previous /ˈpri:viəs/, ability /əˈbɪlɪti/.
əl
əl means that the consonant l is pronounced as a separate syllable (the syllabic l, which sounds like a vowel), or that there is a short ə sound before it. Examples: little /ˈlɪtəl/, uncle ʌŋkəl/.
Instead of the əl symbol, some dictionaries use an l with a small vertical line underneath, or simply l, as in /ˈlɪtl/.
ən
ən means that the consonant n is pronounced as a separate syllable (the syllabic n, which sounds like a vowel), or that there is a short ə sound before it. Examples: written /ˈrɪtən/, listen /ˈlɪsən/.
Instead of the ən symbol, some dictionaries use an n with a small vertical line underneath, or simply n, as in /ˈrɪtn/.
·         Does this chart list all the sounds that you can hear in British and American English?
·         No. This page contains symbols used in phonetic transcriptions in modern dictionaries for English learners. It does not list all the possible sounds in American or British English.
·         For example, this page does not list the "regular t" (heard in this pronunciation of letter) and the "flap t" (heard in this one) with separate symbols. It groups them under a single symbol: t. (In other words, it groups a number of similar sounds under a single phoneme, for simplicity. To understand how sounds are grouped into phonemes, read the article on phonemic transcription.)



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