The pronunciation of English words in Wikipedia is most often given in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). The goal is that interpretation should not depend on the reader's dialect, and therefore a broad transcription is generally used.
For a more complete key to the IPA, which covers sounds that do not occur in English, see Wikipedia:IPA.
Since this key accommodates standard American, British, and Australian pronunciations, not all of the distinctions shown here will be relevant to your dialect. If, for example, you pronounce cot and caught the same, you can ignore the difference between the symbols /ɒ/ and /ɔː/. In many dialects /r/ occurs only before a vowel; if you speak such a dialect, simply ignore /r/ in the pronunciation guides where you would not pronounce it.
On the other hand, this key does not encode the difference between the vowels of bad and lad in Australian English, nor between those of fir, fur, and fern in Scottish English, as those distinctions are seldom made in the dictionaries used as sources for Wikipedia articles.
The IPA stress mark (ˈ) comes before the syllable that has the stress, in contrast to some other methods of describing pronunciation used in English dictionaries.
For a more precise use of the IPA to illustrate differences between English dialects, to transcribe languages other than English, or if the IPA symbols are not displayed on your browser, see the links in the box to the right and at the bottom of this page.
- Although the IPA symbol [r] represents a trill, /r/ is widely used instead of /ɹ/ in broad transcriptions of English.
- /hw/ is found in dialects such as Scottish and Southern American English. Elsewhere people use /w/.
- A number of English words, such as genre and garage, are pronounced with either /ʒ/ or /dʒ/.
- In most dialects, /x/ is replaced by /k/ in loch and by /h/ in Chanukah.
- Most people pronounce the English word Hawaii without the /ʔ/ (glottal stop) that occurs in the Hawaiian word Hawai‘i.
- In many dialects, /r/ occurs only before vowels. In Wikipedia articles, /ɪər/ etc. are not always distinguished from /ɪr/ etc. When they are, the long vowels may be transcribed /iːr/ etc. by analogy with vowels not followed by /r/.
- In most North American dialects, not distinguished from /ɑː/.
- In some North American dialects, not distinguished from /ɑː/.
- Commonly transcribed /əʊ/ or /oː/.
- In some articles these are transcribed /ɝː/ and /ɚ/ when not followed by a vowel.
- American convention is to write /i/ when unstressed and preceding a vowel or word boundary, as in wiki /ˈwɪki/ and serious /ˈsɪriəs/; British convention used to be /ˈwɪkɪ/ and /ˈsɪərɪəs/, but the OED and other influential dictionaries recently converted to /i/.
- In many dialects, /juː/ is pronounced the same as /uː/ after "tongue sounds" (/t/, /d/, /s/, /z/, /n/, /θ/, and /l/), so that dew /djuː/ is pronounced the same as do /duː/.
- Syllables are indicated sparingly, where necessary to avoid confusion.
- Pronounced as [ə] in Australian and many US dialects, and as [ɪ] in Received Pronunciation. Many speakers freely alternate between a reduced [ɪ] and a reduced [ə]. The OED uses the pseudo-IPA symbol
ɪ, and Merriam Webster uses ə̇.
- It is arguable that there is no phonemic distinction in English between primary and secondary stress, but it is conventional to notate them as here.
- To compare these symbols with dictionary conventions you may be more familiar with, see pronunciation respelling for English, which lists the pronunciation guides of fourteen English dictionaries.
- For differences among national dialects of English, see the IPA chart for English dialects, which compares the vowels of Received Pronunciation, General American, Australian English, New Zealand English, and Scottish English, among others.
- For use of the IPA in other languages, see help:IPA for a quick overview, or the more detailed main IPA article.
- If your browser does not display IPA symbols, you probably need to install a font that includes the IPA. Good free IPA fonts include Gentium (prettier) and Charis SIL (more complete); download links can be found on those pages.
- For a guide to adding pronunciations to Wikipedia articles, see the documentation for the IPA template.
- For help on getting the screen reader JAWS to read IPA symbols, see Getting JAWS 6.1 to recognize "exotic" Unicode symbols.