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Throughout Wikipedia, the pronunciation of words is indicated by means of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). The following tables list the IPA symbols used for English words and pronunciations. Please note that several of these symbols are used in ways that are specific to Wikipedia and differ from those used by dictionaries.

If the IPA symbols are not displayed properly by your browser, see the links below.

If you are adding a pronunciation using this key, such pronunciations should generally be formatted using the template {{IPAc-en}}. The template provides tooltips for each symbol in the pronunciation. See the template page for instructions.


If the words given as examples for two different symbols sound the same to you (for example, if you pronounce cot and caught the same, or do and dew, or marry and merry), you can pronounce those symbols the same in explanations of all words. The footnotes explain some of these mergers. (See also Dialect variation below.)

If there is an IPA symbol you are looking for that you do not see here, see Help:IPA, which is a more complete list. For a table listing all spellings of the sounds on this page, see English orthography § Sound-to-spelling correspondences. For help converting spelling to pronunciation, see English orthography § Spelling-to-sound correspondences.

IPA Examples
b buy, cab
d dye, cad, ladder[1]
dj dew[2]
giant, badge
ð thy, breathe, father
f fan, caff
ɡ (ɡ)[3] guy, bag
h high, ahead
hw why[4]
j[5] yes, hallelujah
k sky, crack
l lie, sly, gal[6]
lj lute[2]
m my, smile, cam
n nigh, snide, can
nj new[2]
ŋ sang, sink, singer
p pie, spy, cap
r[7] rye, try, very
s sigh, mass
sj consume[2]
ʃ shy, cash, emotion
t tie, sty, cat, latter[1]
tj tune[2]
China, catch
θ thigh, math
θj enthuse[2]
v vie, have
w wye, swine
z zoo, has
zj Zeus[2]
ʒ pleasure, vision, beige[8]
Marginal segments
IPA Examples
x ugh, loch, Chanukah[9]
ʔ uh-oh /ˈʔʌʔoʊ/
ɒ̃ bon vivant[10]
æ̃ fin de siècle[10]
ɜː Möbius (UK only)[11]
Full vowels ...followed by R[12]
IPA Examples IPA Examples
ɑː PALM, bra ɑːr START, star
ɒ LOT, pod, John, blockade[13] ɒr moral, forage[14]
æ TRAP, pad, tattoo[15] ær barrow, marry[16]
PRICE, ride, pie[17] aɪər Ireland, hire[18]
aɪ.ər higher, buyer[19]
MOUTH, loud, down, how[17] aʊər flour[18]
aʊ.ər flower[19]
ɛ DRESS, bet, prestige[20] ɛr error, merry[16][21][22]
FACE, made, fail, vein, pay ɛər SQUARE, mare, scarce, cairn, Mary[16][21][22][23]
eɪər player[19]
ɪ KIT, lid, historic ɪr mirror, Sirius[21][22]
FLEECE, seed, mean, pedigree, idea[24] ɪər NEAR, beard, fierce, serious[21][22][23][25]
iːər freer
GOAT, code, go, foal, follower[26][27] oʊər mower
ɔː THOUGHT, Maud, dawn, fall, straw[28] ɔːr NORTH, FORCE, horse, hoarse, aural[22][28][29][30]
ɔːər sawer
ɔɪ CHOICE, void, boy ɔɪər coir[18]
ɔɪ.ər employer[19]
ʊ FOOT, good, full ʊr courier[21][22]
GOOSE, food, tissue, cruel[24] ʊər boor, moor, tourist, CURE (/ˈkjʊər/)[21][22][23][25][30]
uːər truer
ʌ STRUT, bud, untidy, justiciable[31][32] ɜːr NURSE, word, girl, fern, furry, Berlin[33]
ʌr hurry, nourish[34]
Weak vowels and syllabic consonants[35]
IPA Examples IPA Examples
ə COMMA, ago, quiet, focus ər LETTER, perceive, history
əl bottle (either [əl] or [l̩])
ɪ roses, enough, Martin[36] ən button (either [ən] or [n̩])
əm rhythm (either [əm] or [m̩])
i HAPPY, mediocre (either /iː/ or /ɪ/)[37] serious, California (either /iːə/, /ɪ.ə/, or /jə/)[38]
u fruition (either /uː/ or /ʊ/)[27][37] influence (either /uːə/, /ʊ.ə/, or /wə/)[39]
Stress Syllabification
IPA Examples IPA Examples
ˈ intonation /ˌɪntəˈneɪʃən/ . /ˈhaɪər/ hire, /ˈhaɪ.ər/ higher[40]
/ˈtæks.peɪər/ taxpayer


  • The length mark is sometimes omitted in IPA transcriptions of English, in which vowel length is more variable than in e.g. German (see clipping for more information). In this system, it is retained so that the way we transcribe vowels such as /ɑː/ matches the way they are transcribed in British dictionaries and because the free vowels /ɑː, iː, uː, ɜːr/ are more distinct from /ɒ, ɪ, ʊ, ɛr/ when they are written with the length mark. Retaining it also allows to use the non-phonemic symbols ⟨i⟩ and ⟨u⟩, which represent phonemic neutralization between the unstressed long /iː/ and /uː/ and the unstressed short /ɪ/ and /ʊ/.
  • The IPA stress mark (ˈ) comes before the syllable that has the stress, in contrast to stress marking in pronunciation keys of some dictionaries published in the United States.
  • Words in SMALL CAPITALS are the standard lexical sets. Words in the lexical sets BATH and CLOTH may be given two transcriptions, the former either with /ɑː/ or /æ/, the latter with /ɒ/ or /ɔː/.

Dialect variation

This key represents diaphonemes, abstractions of speech sounds that accommodate General American, Received Pronunciation (RP) and to a large extent also Australian, Canadian, Irish (including Ulster), New Zealand, Scottish, South African and Welsh pronunciations. Therefore, not all of the distinctions shown here are relevant to a particular dialect:

  • Many speakers of American and Canadian English pronounce cot /ˈkɒt/ and caught /ˈkɔːt/ the same.[lower-alpha 7] You may simply ignore the difference between the symbols /ɒ/ and /ɔː/, just as you ignore the distinction between the written vowels o and au when pronouncing them.
  • Some speakers from Northern England do not distinguish the vowel of square /ˈskwɛər/ and nurse /ˈnɜːrs/.[lower-alpha 8] If you speak such a dialect, ignore the difference between the symbols /ɛər/ and /ɜːr/.
  • In New Zealand English, the vowels of kit /ˈkɪt/ and focus /ˈfoʊkəs/ have the same schwa-like quality.[lower-alpha 9][lower-alpha 10] If you are from New Zealand, ignore the difference between the symbols /ɪ/ and /ə/.
  • In contemporary New Zealand English and some other dialects, the vowels of near /ˈnɪər/ and square /ˈskwɛər/ are not distinguished.[lower-alpha 11] If you speak such a dialect, ignore the difference between the symbols /ɪər/ and /ɛər/.
  • In Scottish English and Ulster English, the vowels of foot /ˈfʊt/ and goose /ˈɡuːs/ are not distinguished.[lower-alpha 12][lower-alpha 13] If you speak either of those dialects, ignore the difference between the symbols /ʊ/ and /uː/.
  • In Northern England English, the vowels of foot /ˈfʊt/ and strut /ˈstrʌt/ are not distinguished.[lower-alpha 14] If you are from Northern England, ignore the difference between the symbols /ʊ/ and /ʌ/.
  • In Welsh English and some other dialects, the vowels of unorthodoxy /ʌnˈɔːrθədɒksi/ and an orthodoxy /ən ˈɔːrθədɒksi/ are not distinguished.[lower-alpha 15] If you speak such a dialect, ignore the difference between the symbols /ʌ/ and /ə/.
  • Depending on the dialect, vowels can be subject to various mergers before /l/, so that e.g. fill /ˈfɪl/ and feel /ˈfiːl/ or pull /ˈpʊl/ and pool /ˈpuːl/ may not be distinguished. See English-language vowel changes before historic /l/ for more information.
  • 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, as in cart /kɑːrt/.
  • In other dialects, /j/ (yes) cannot occur after /t, d, n/, etc., within the same syllable; if you speak such a dialect, then ignore the /j/ in transcriptions such as new /njuː/. For example, New York is transcribed /njuː ˈjɔːrk/. For most people from England and for some New Yorkers, the /r/ in /jɔːrk/ is not pronounced; for most people from the United States, including some New Yorkers, the /j/ in /njuː/ is not pronounced and may be ignored. (See yod-dropping.)

On the other hand, there are some distinctions which you might make but which this key does not encode, as they are seldom reflected in the dictionaries used as sources for Wikipedia articles:

  • The vowels of kit and bit, distinguished in South Africa.[lower-alpha 16] Both of them are transcribed as /ɪ/ in stressed syllables and as /ɪ/ or /ə/ in unstressed syllables.
  • The difference between the vowels of fir, fur and fern, maintained in some Scottish and Irish English but lost elsewhere.[lower-alpha 17] All of them are transcribed as /ɜːr/.
  • The vowels of north and force, distinguished in Scottish English, Irish English and by a minority of American speakers.[lower-alpha 17] Both of them are transcribed as /ɔːr/.
  • The vowels of pause and paws, distinguished in Cockney and by some Estuary English speakers.[lower-alpha 18] Both of them are transcribed as /ɔː/ or /ɔːr/, depending on the word.
  • The vowels of bad and lad, distinguished in many parts of Australia. Both of them are transcribed as /æ/.
  • The vowels of manning and Manning, distinguished in some parts of the United States (see /æ/ raising). Both of them are transcribed as /æ/.
  • The difference between the vowels of pain and pane found in some English, Welsh, and Newfoundland dialects. Both of them are transcribed as /eɪ/.
  • The difference between the vowels of holy and wholly found in Cockney and many Estuary English speakers.[lower-alpha 19] Both of them are transcribed as /oʊ/.
  • The vowels of spider and spied her, distinguished in many parts of Scotland.[lower-alpha 20] Both of them are transcribed as /aɪ/.
  • The vowels of rider and writer, distinguished in many parts of Canada and some parts of the United States. Both of them are transcribed as /aɪ/.
  • The vowels of powder and pouter distinguished in many parts of Canada and some parts of the United States. Both of them are transcribed as /aʊ/.

Other words may have different vowels depending on the speaker.

The pronunciation of the /æ/ vowel in most dialects of Scotland, Northern Ireland, northern England and Wales has always been closer to [a]. BBC English has moved away from the traditional near-open front realization [æ] towards almost fully open front realization [a], and both the Oxford English Dictionary and the 2014 edition of Gimson's Pronunciation of English transcribe the vowel in lad, bad, cat, trap with /a/.[lower-alpha 21]

For more extensive information on dialect variations, you may wish to see the IPA chart for English dialects.

Note that place names are not generally exempted from being transcribed in this abstracted system, so rules such as the above must be applied in order to recover the local pronunciation. Examples include place names in much of England ending ‑ford, which although locally pronounced [‑fəd] are transcribed /‑fərd/. This is best practice for editors. However, readers should be aware that not all editors may have followed this consistently, so for example if /‑fəd/ is encountered for such a place name, it should not be interpreted as a claim that the /r/ would be absent even in a rhotic dialect.

Other transcriptions

If you feel it is necessary to add a pronunciation respelling using another convention, then please use the conventions of Wikipedia's pronunciation respelling key.

  • To compare the following IPA symbols with non-IPA American dictionary conventions that may be more familiar, see Pronunciation respelling for English, which lists the pronunciation guides of fourteen English dictionaries published in the United States.
  • To compare the following IPA symbols with other IPA conventions that may be more familiar, see Help:IPA/Conventions for English, which lists the conventions of eight English dictionaries published in Britain, Australia, and the United States.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 In varieties with flapping, /t/ and sometimes also /d/ between a vowel and an unstressed or word-initial vowel may be pronounced with a voiced tap [ɾ], sometimes leading to latter and ladder becoming homophonous. Some dictionaries transcribe /t/ subject to this process as ⟨d⟩, ⟨D⟩, or ⟨⟩, but they are not distinguished in this notation system. In those varieties, the sequence /nt/ in the same environment may also be realized as nasalized tap [ɾ̃], which may sound similar or identical to /n/. This is also not distinguished in this system.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 In dialects with yod dropping, /j/ in /juː/ or /jʊər/ is not pronounced after coronal consonants (/t/, /d/, /s/, /z/, /n/, /θ/, and /l/) in the same syllable, so that dew /djuː/ is pronounced the same as do /duː/. In dialects with yod coalescence, /tj/ and /dj/ mostly merge with /tʃ/ and /dʒ/, so that the first syllable in Tuesday is pronounced the same as choose. In some dialects /sj/ and /zj/ are also affected and frequently merge with /ʃ/ and /ʒ/.
  3. If the two characters ⟨ɡ⟩ and ⟨6px⟩ do not match and if the first looks like a ⟨γ⟩, then you have an issue with your default font. See Help:IPA § Rendering issues.
  4. The phoneme /hw/ is not distinguished from /w/ in the many dialects with the wine–whine merger, such as RP and most varieties of General American. For more information on this sound, see voiceless labialized velar approximant.
  5. The IPA value of the letter ⟨j⟩ is counter-intuitive to many English speakers. However, it does occur with this sound in a few English words: Besides hallelujah, there are fjord, Jägermeister and Jarlsberg cheese.
  6. /l/ in the syllable coda, as in the words all, cold, or bottle, is pronounced as [o], [u], [w] or a similar sound in many dialects through L-vocalization.
  7. In most varieties of English, /r/ is pronounced as an approximant [ɹ]. Although the IPA symbol ⟨r⟩ represents a trill, ⟨r⟩ is widely used instead of ⟨ɹ⟩ in broad transcriptions of English.
  8. A number of English words, such as genre and garage, may be pronounced with either /ʒ/ or /dʒ/.
  9. In most dialects, /x/ can also be replaced by /k/ in most words, including loch. It is also replaced with /h/ in some words, particularly of Yiddish origin, such as Chanukah.
  10. 10.0 10.1 /ɒ̃, æ̃/ are only found in French loanwords and often replaced by another vowel and a nasal consonant: bon vivant /ˌbɒn viːˈvɑːnt/, ensemble /ɑːnˈsɑːmbəl/, croissant /ˈkwæsɑːŋ/.[lower-alpha 1]
  11. /ɜː/ is only found in loanwords in British and Southern Hemisphere accents, and therefore a transcription that includes it must always be prefaced with a label indicating the variety of English. Use this when a reliable source shows that a vowel in a loanword is pronounced as /ɜː/ in these accents and as a different vowel in General American. If a reliable source shows that a vowel is pronounced as the NURSE vowel in General American as well even though spelled without ⟨r⟩, as in Goethe and hors d'oeuvre, use /ɜːr/.
  12. In non-rhotic accents like RP, /r/ is not pronounced unless followed by a vowel.
  13. In dialects with the father–bother merger such as General American, /ɒ/ is not distinguished from /ɑː/.
  14. In much of the United States, /ɒr/ is merged with /ɔːr/, except for a handful of words such as borrow, tomorrow and sorry, which are realized with /ɑːr/. In some parts of the US, it is always merged with /ɑːr/. In Canada, it is always merged with /ɔːr/.
  15. In North America, /æ/ is often pronounced like a diphthong [eə~ɛə], especially before nasal consonants. See /æ/ raising.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 /ær/, /ɛr/ and /ɛər/ are not distinguished in General American and in many other American accents. Some speakers merge only two of the sounds (most typically /ɛər/ with one of the short vowels) and less than a fifth of speakers of American English make a full three-way distinction, like RP and similar accents. In Canada, all three vowels are merged except in Montreal, where Mary and merry are merged but marry has a distinct vowel. See Mary–marry–merry merger for more information.
  17. 17.0 17.1 In much of North America, /aɪ/ or /aʊ/ may have a slightly different quality when it precedes a voiceless consonant, as in price or mouth, from that in ride/pie or loud/how, a phenomenon known as Canadian raising. Since this occurs in a predictable fashion, it is not distinguished in this transcription system.
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 In some dialects, especially in the UK, the second segment in a diphthong followed by /ə/ is often omitted. This process or lack thereof may help choose between /aɪər, aʊər, ɔɪər/ in some words (diary, admirer) and /aɪr, aʊr, ɔɪr/ in others (pirate, siren), a distinction not always clear.
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 Some speakers pronounce higher, flower, mayor and coyer ("more coy") with two syllables, and hire, flour, mare and coir with one. Others pronounce them the same.
  20. /ɛ/ is transcribed as ⟨e⟩ by many dictionaries.[lower-alpha 2] However, /eɪ/ is also sometimes transcribed as ⟨e⟩, especially in American literature, so /ɛ/ is chosen here.
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 21.3 21.4 21.5 /ɛər, ɪər, ʊər/ are not distinguished from /ɛr, ɪr, ʊr/ in General American. In addition, /ær/ is pronounced the same as /ɛər/ and /ɛr/, which means that GA exhibits Mary–marry–merry and mirror–nearer mergers. Dictionaries such as Longman Pronunciation Dictionary use ⟨ɛr, ɪr, ʊr⟩ for both sets of sounds. Phonetically, the vowel in /ɛr/ can be closer to /eɪ/, the one in /ɪr/ to /iː/ and the one in /ʊr/ to /uː/, so that merry [ˈmeri] as pronounced by a speaker of General American can sound similar to the Scottish pronunciation of Mary, though this is somewhat variable. This guide transcribes the sounds according to their distribution in Received Pronunciation, so that Mary, nearer and tourist are written with /ɛər, ɪər, ʊər/, whereas merry, mirror and courier are transcribed with /ɛr, ɪr, ʊr/. The choice between the two is problematic only word-internally before vowels; in other positions only /ɛər, ɪər, ʊər/ can appear.
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 22.3 22.4 22.5 22.6 In rhotic dialects that still maintain the distinction between /ɛr, ɪr, ʊr/ and /ɛər, ɪər, ʊər/ the latter vowels cannot be analyzed as phonemes separate from the sequences of /eɪ/, /iː/ and /uː/ followed by /r/, which means that words such as square, near and cure are phonemically /ˈskweɪr/, /ˈniːr/ and /ˈkjuːr/, rather than RP /ˈskwɛə, ˈnɪə, ˈkjʊə/. In RP, near /ˈnɪə/ forms a minimal pair with knee /ˈniː/ as the only difference between them is the vowel.
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 /ɛə/, /ɪə/, or /ʊə/ may be separated from /r/ only when a stress follows it. The IPAc-en template supports /ɛəˈr/, /ɪəˈr/, /ʊəˈr/, /ɛəˌr/, /ɪəˌr/, and /ʊəˌr/ as distinct diaphonemes for such occasions.
  24. 24.0 24.1 Words like idea, real, theatre, and cruel may be pronounced with /ɪə/ or /ʊə/ in non-rhotic accents such as Received Pronunciation, and some dictionaries transcribe them with /ɪə, ʊə/,[lower-alpha 3] but since they do not stem from historical /r/ and are not pronounced with /r/ in rhotic accents, they should be transcribed with /iːə, uːə/, not with /ɪə, ʊə/, in this transcription system.
  25. 25.0 25.1 In some non-rhotic accents spoken in Northern England /ɪər/ and /ʊər/ are disyllabic sequences /iːə, uːə/. Some other dialects (such as New Zealand English) feature a free variation between the monosyllabic [ɪə, ʊə] (sometimes monophthongized to [ɪː, ʊː]) and disyllabic [iːə, uːə], yet other dialects (such as traditional RP) treat them as categorically monosyllabic. In this system all variants are transcribed simply as /ɪər/ and /ʊər/, no matter the local realization.
  26. /oʊ/ is transcribed with ⟨əʊ⟩ in Received Pronunciation.
  27. 27.0 27.1 /oʊ/ and /u/ in unstressed, prevocalic positions are transcribed as /əw/ by Merriam-Webster, but no other dictionary uniformly follows this practice.[lower-alpha 4] Hence a difference between /əw/ in Merriam-Webster and /oʊ/ or /u/ in another source is most likely one in notation, not in pronunciation, so /əw/ in such cases may be better replaced with /oʊ/ or /u/ accordingly, to minimize confusion: /ˌsɪtʃəˈweɪʃən//ˌsɪtʃuˈeɪʃən/, /ˈfɒləwər//ˈfɒloʊər/.
  28. 28.0 28.1 /ɔː/ is not distinguished from /ɒ/ in dialects with the cot–caught merger such as many varieties of General American. When the cot–caught merger occurs along with the horse–hoarse one (as is the case in California and Canada), /ɔː/ before /r/ is typically analyzed as /oʊ/, so that north and force can be written /ˈnoʊrθ/ and /ˈfoʊrs/, without postulating a separate /ɔː/ phoneme that occurs only before /r/. In this system, these words are written /ˈnɔːrθ/ and /ˈfɔːrs/.
  29. Some conservative dialects make a distinction between the vowels in horse and hoarse, but the number of speakers who make this distinction any longer is very small and many dictionaries do not differentiate between them (horse–hoarse merger). The vowel in hoarse was formerly represented as /ɔər/ on Wikipedia, but is now represented as /ɔːr/, identical to horse.
  30. 30.0 30.1 /ʊər/ is not distinguished from /ɔːr/ in dialects with the cure–force merger, including many younger speakers. In England, the merger may not be fully consistent and may only apply to more common words. In conservative RP and Northern England English /ʊər/ is much more commonly preserved than in modern RP and Southern England English. In Australia and New Zealand, /ʊər/ does not exist as a separate phoneme and is replaced either by the sequence /uːər/ (/uːr/ before vowels within the same word, save for some compounds) or the monophthong /ɔːr/.
  31. Some, particularly American, dictionaries notate /ʌ/ with the same symbol as /ə/, which is found only in unstressed syllables, and distinguish it from /ə/ by marking the syllable as stressed. Also note that although ⟨ʌ⟩, the IPA symbol for the open-mid back vowel, is used, the typical modern pronunciation is rather close to the near-open central vowel [ɐ] in both Received Pronunciation and General American.
  32. /ʌ/ is not used in the dialects of the northern half of England, some bordering parts of Wales, and some broad eastern Ireland accents. These words would take the /ʊ/ vowel: there is no foot–strut split.
  33. In Received Pronunciation, /ɜːr/ is pronounced as a lengthened schwa, [əː]. In General American, it is phonetically identical to /ər/. Some dictionaries therefore use ⟨əː, ər⟩ instead of the conventional notations ⟨ɜː, ɜr⟩. When ⟨ər⟩ is used for /ɜːr/, it is distinguished from /ər/ by marking the syllable as stressed. The choice between /ɜːr/ and /ər/ is problematic only in unstressed word-internal and -final contexts; in stressed syllables as well as in the word-initial position only /ɜːr/ can occur. In some words (such as virginity), there is a free variation between /ɜːr/ and /ər/ in RP, in which case it is acceptable to transcribe the most common variant (/ər/ in the case of that word).
  34. /ʌr/ is not distinguished from /ɜːr/ in dialects with the hurry–furry merger such as General American.
  35. In a number of contexts, /ə/ in /ər/, /əl/, /ən/, or /əm/ is often omitted, resulting in a syllable with no vowel. Some dictionaries show /ə/ in those contexts in parentheses, superscript, or italics to indicate this possibility, or simply omit /ə/. When followed by a weak vowel, the syllable may be lost altogether, with the consonant moving to the next syllable, so that doubling /ˈdʌb.əl.ɪŋ/ may alternatively be pronounced as [ˈdʌb.lɪŋ], and Edinburgh /ˈɛd.ɪn.bər.ə/ as [ˈɛd.ɪn.brə].[lower-alpha 5] When not followed by a vowel, /ər/ merges with /ə/ in non-rhotic accents.
  36. This is /ə/ in some accents, such as Australian (see weak vowel merger).
  37. 37.0 37.1 The symbols ⟨i⟩ and ⟨u⟩ do not represent phonemes but phonemic neutralization between the unstressed long /iː/ and /uː/ and the unstressed short /ɪ/ and /ʊ/. ⟨i⟩ denotes /iː/ in dialects with the happy tensing (such as Australian English, General American and Modern RP) and /ɪ/ in others, such as conservative RP, Scottish English and some Northern English and Southern American English dialects. Speakers of the former dialects should read transcriptions such as /ˈhæpi/ as equivalent to /ˈhæpiː/, whereas speakers of the latter dialects should consider it to be equivalent to /ˈhæpɪ/. British convention used to transcribe this vowel with ⟨ɪ⟩, but the OED and other influential dictionaries recently converted to ⟨i⟩. Before vowels there is a certain amount of free variation among speakers of dialects without the happy tensing, so that the phrase happy again can be pronounced as either [ˈhæpiː əˈɡɛn] or [ˈhæpɪ əˈɡɛn], even though happy in isolation is pronounced [ˈhæpɪ].
  38. ⟩ may denote disyllabic sequences /iːə/ or /ɪ.ə/, a monosyllabic sequence /jə/ or a diphthong [ɪə̯]. Among the disyllabic pronunciations, /iːə/ is used in dialects with the happy tensing, but in dialects without it there is a certain amount of free variation between [iːə] and [ɪ.ə], which means that California can be pronounced as either [ˌkælɪˈfɔːrniːə], [ˌkælɪˈfɔːrnɪ.ə] or one of the monosyllabic possibilities. When pronounced as one syllable in a non-rhotic accent, it may be indistinguishable from, and identified as, the NEAR vowel (/ɪər/), so that speakers of such dialects can identify both vowels in serious as being the same (/ˈsɪərɪəs/).[lower-alpha 3] It should be transcribed as /iə/, not /i.ə/, because the latter would falsely suggest that the disyllabic pronunciation is the only possibility. Disyllabic pronunciation is mandatory across word boundaries, as in happy again, but words are normally separated in IPA (as they are in spelling): /ˈhæpi əˈɡɛn/.[lower-alpha 6]
  39. ⟩ may denote disyllabic sequences /uːə/ or /ʊ.ə/, a monosyllabic sequence /wə/ or a diphthong [ʊə̯]. When pronounced as one syllable in a non-rhotic accent, it may be indistinguishable from, and identified as, the CURE vowel (/ʊər/).[lower-alpha 3] It should be transcribed as /uə/, not /u.ə/, because the latter would falsely suggest that the disyllabic pronunciation is the only possibility.[lower-alpha 6]
  40. Syllable divisions are not usually marked, but the IPA dot '.' may be used when it is wished to make explicit where a division between syllables is (or may be) made.


  1. Jones (2011).
  2. Wells, John (18 March 2009). "e and ɛ". John Wells's phonetic blog. Blogspot. Retrieved 13 March 2015.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Wells (1982), p. 240.
  4. Windsor Lewis, Jack (10 April 2009). "The Elephant in the Room". PhonetiBlog.
  5. Wells (2008), pp. 173, 799.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Wells (2008), p. 173.
  7. Wells (1982), pp. 473–476, 493, 499.
  8. Wells (1982), pp. 361, 372.
  9. Wells (1982), pp. 605–607.
  10. Bauer et al. (2007), pp. 98–99.
  11. Bauer et al. (2007), p. 98.
  12. Stuart-Smith (2004), p. 58.
  13. Corrigan (2010), pp. 33–35.
  14. Wells (1982), pp. 351–353, 363–364.
  15. Wells (1982), pp. 380–381.
  16. Wells (1982), pp. 612–613.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Stuart-Smith (2004), p. 56
  18. Wells (1982), pp. 304, 310–311.
  19. Wells (1982), pp. 304, 312–313.
  20. Stuart-Smith (2004), p. 57.
  21. Cruttenden (2014), pp. 119–120.


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