Conlang:International Phonetic Alphabet

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IPA is an acronym for the International Phonetic Alphabet. The IPA is an universal alphabet used to transcribe the phonological properties of spoken languages, for example vowels and consonants.

To represent sounds in computer environments, mainly ASCII, for both human and machines, there is SAMPA and X-SAMPA.

Consonants (pulmonic) Edit

Single articulationEdit

The pulmonic consonant table, which includes most consonants, is arranged in rows that designate manner of articulation and columns that designate place of articulation. The main chart only includes consonants with a single place of articulation.

Place of articulation → Labial Coronal Dorsal Radical consonant Glot­tal
Manner of articulation ↓ Bi­la­bial La­bio‐
Den­tal Al­veo­lar Post‐
Pa­la­tal Ve­lar Uvu­lar Pha­ryn‐
Nasal m ɱ n ɳ ɲ̥ ɲ ŋ̊ ŋ ɴ  
Plosive p b p̪ b̪ t d ʈ ɖ c ɟ k ɡ q ɢ ʡ ʔ
Fricative ɸ β f v θ ð s z ʃ ʒ ʂ ʐ ç ʝ x ɣ χ ʁ ħ ʕ ʜ ʢ h ɦ
Approx­imant β̞ ʋ ɹ ɻ j ɰ
Trill ʙ r ɽ͡r ʀ я *
Tap or Flap ⱱ̟ ɾ ɽ ɢ̆ ʡ̯
Lateral Fricative ɬ ɮ ɭ˔̊ ʎ̥˔ ʟ̝̊ ʟ̝
Lat. Approx­imant    l ɭ ʎ ʟ
Lateral Flap ɺ ɺ̠ ʎ̯


  • Asterisks (*) mark reported sounds that do not (yet) have official IPA symbols. See the articles for ad hoc symbols found in the literature.
  • Daggers (†) mark IPA symbols that do not yet have official Unicode support. Since May 2005, this is the case of the labiodental flap, symbolized by a right-hook v: Labiodental flap (Gentium) (Proposal to add this symbol to Unicode)
  • In rows where some symbols appear in pairs (the obstruents), the symbol to the right represents a voiced consonant (except for breathy-voiced ɦ). However, ʔ cannot be voiced. In the other rows (the sonorants), the single symbol represents a voiced consonant.
  • Although there is a single symbol for the coronal places of articulation for all consonants but fricatives, when dealing with a particular language, the symbols are treated as specifically alveolar, post-alveolar, etc., as appropriate for that language.
  • Shaded areas indicate articulations judged to be impossible.
  • The symbols ʁ, ʕ, ʢ represent either voiced fricatives or approximants.
  • It is primarily the shape of the tongue rather than its position that distinguishes the fricatives ʃ ʒ, ɕ ʑ, and ʂ ʐ.
  • The labiodental nasal ɱ is not known to exist as a phoneme in any language.


[ʍ] Voiceless labialized velar approximant
[w] Voiced labialized velar approximant
[ɥ] Voiced labialized palatal approximant
[ɕ] Voiceless palatalized postalveolar (alveolo-palatal) fricative
[ʑ] Voiced palatalized postalveolar (alveolo-palatal) fricative
[ɧ] Voiceless "palatal-velar" fricative


  • ɧ is described as a "simultaneous ʃ and x". However, this analysis is disputed.
  • To be complete, this chart should also include the semi-palatalized postalveolar (palato-alveolar) fricatives ʃ and ʒ.
  • The miscellaneous portion of the chart, as published by the IPA, includes additional symbols that would have been included in the main consonant chart were it not for difficulties in typesetting on a printed page. In this article, which does not suffer from such problems, they have been included in the main chart above.

Consonants (non-pulmonic) Edit

Click releases Implosives Ejectives
[ʘ] Bilabial [ɓ] Bilabial [ʼ] For example:
[ǀ] Laminal alveolar ("dental") [ɗ] Alveolar [pʼ] Bilabial
[ǃ] Apical (post-) alveolar ("retroflex") [ʄ] Palatal [tʼ] Alveolar
[ǂ] Laminal postalveolar ("palatal") [ɠ] Velar [kʼ] Velar
[ǁ] Lateral coronal ("lateral") [ʛ] Uvular [sʼ] Alveolar fricative


  • All clicks are doubly articulated and require two symbols: a velar or uvular stop, plus a symbol for the release: k͡ǂ, ɡ͡ǂ, ŋ͡ǂ, q͡ǂ, ɢ͡ǂ, ɴ͡ǂ, etc. When the dorsal articulation is omitted, a k may usually be assumed.
  • Symbols for the voiceless implosives ƥ, ƭ, ƈ, ƙ, ʠ are no longer supported by the IPA. Instead, the voiced equivalent is used with a voiceless diacritic: ɓ̥, ʛ̥, etc.
  • Although not confirmed from any language, and therefore not "explicitly recognized" by the IPA, a retroflex implosive, [ᶑ], is supported in the Unicode Phonetic Extensions Supplement, added in version 4.1 of the Unicode Standard, or can be created as a composite ɗ̢


  • The ejective symbol is often seen for glottalized but pulmonic sonorants, such as mʼ, lʼ, wʼ, aʼ, but these are more properly transcribed as creaky (m̰, l̰, w̰, a̰).

Vowels Edit

Front N.-front Central N.-back Back
Blank vowel trapezoid


 • [y]


 • [ʉ]


 • [u]


 • [ʏ]

• [ʊ]


 • [ø]


 • [ɵ]


 • [o]



 • [œ]


 • [ɞ]


 • [ɔ]



 • [ɶ]


 • [ɒ]



  • Where symbols appear in pairs, the one to the right represents a rounded vowel, as does ʊ
(at least prototypically). All others are unrounded.
is not confirmed as a distinct phoneme in any language.
is officially a front vowel, but there is little distinction between front and central open vowels, and a
is frequently used for an open central vowel.

Affricates and double articulationEdit

Affricates and doubly articulated stops are represented by two symbols joined by a tie bar, either above or below the symbols. The six commonest affricates are optionally represented by ligatures, though this is no longer official IPA usage, due to the great number of ligatures that would be required to represent all affricates this way. A third affricate transcription sometimes seen uses the superscript notation for a consonant release, for example [tˢ]

for [t͡s]

, paralleling [kˣ]

~ [k͡x]

. The symbols for the palatal plosives, [<c ɟ>,]

are often used as a convenience for t͡ʃ d͡ʒ
or similar affricates, even in official IPA publications, so they must be interpreted with care. 
Tie bar Ligature Description
[t͡s] [ʦ] voiceless alveolar affricate
[d͡z] [ʣ] voiced alveolar affricate
[t͡ʃ] [ʧ] voiceless postalveolar affricate
[d͡ʒ] [ʤ] voiced postalveolar affricate
[t͡ɕ] [ʨ] voiceless alveolo-palatal affricate
[d͡ʑ] [ʥ] voiced alveolo-palatal affricate
[t͡ɬ]  – voiceless alveolar lateral affricate
[k͡p]  – voiceless labial-velar plosive
[ɡ͡b]  – voiced labial-velar plosive
[ŋ͡m]  – labial-velar nasal stop


  • If your browser uses Arial Unicode MS to display IPA characters, the following incorrectly formed sequences may look better due to a bug in that font: [ts͡, tʃ͡, tɕ͡, dz͡, dʒ͡, dʑ͡, tɬ͡, kp͡, ɡb͡, ŋm͡]


Extended IPAEdit

The Extended IPA was designed for disordered speech. However, some of the symbols (especially diacritics, below) are occasionally used for transcribing normal speech as well.

View a pdf file here.

[ʩ] Velopharyngeal fricative (often occurs with a cleft palate)
[ʪ] Voiceless central-plus-lateral alveolar fricative, ɬ͡s
(a lisp)
[ʫ] Voiced central-plus-lateral alveolar fricative, ɮ͡z
(a lisp)
[ʬ] Bilabial percussive (smacking lips)
[ʭ] Bidental percussive (gnashing teeth)
[¡] Sublaminal lower alveolar click (sucking tongue)

The last symbol may be used with the alveolar click for ǃ¡ , a combined alveolar and sublaminal click or "cluck-click".


[ˈ] Primary stress
[ˌ] Secondary stress
[ː] Long (long vowel or geminate consonant)
[ˑ] Half-long
[˘] Extra-short
[.] Syllable break
[‿] Linking (absence of a break)

Intonation Edit

[] Minor (foot) break
[‖] Major (intonation) break
[↗] Global rise
[↘] Global fall

Tone Edit

IPA allows for the use of either tone diacritics or tone letters to indicate tones.

[e̋ oɾ ˥] Extra high
[é oɾ ˦] High
[ē oɾ ˧] Mid
[è oɾ ˨] Low
[ȅ oɾ ˩] Extra low
[ě] Rise
[ê] Fall






  • With regard to tone diacritics, Unicode encodes marks for some contour tones, but not all. In Unicode version 4.1, only hacek (rising) and circumflex (falling) diacritics were encoded. Subsequent versions may also include six additional diacritics for contour tones, such as the macron-acute and the grave-acute-grave ligatures. Note that contour tone diacritics are not encoded as sequences of level tone diacritics in Unicode.
  • With regard to tone letters, Unicode does not have separate encodings for contour tones. Instead, sequences of level tone letters are used, with proper display dependent on the font, usually by means of OpenType font rendition: ˥˩
or ˦˥˧

. (These are probably not displaying correctly in your browser. See the image for a sample of how they should appear.) Since few fonts support combination tone letters (see the external links for one that is free), a common solution is to use the old system of superscript numerals from '1' to '5', for example [e53, e312]. However, this depends on local linguistic tradition, with '5' generally being high and '1' being low for Asian languages, but '1' being high and '5' low for African languages. An old IPA convention sometimes still seen is to use sub-diacritics for low contour tones: e̖, e̗

for low-falling and low-rising. 
  • The upstep and downstep modifiers are superscript arrows. Unicode version 4.1 does not encode these, though subsequent versions will. The arrows for upstep and downstep should not be confused with the full-height arrows, which are used to indicate airflow direction.

Diacritics Edit

Sub-diacritics may be placed above a symbol with a descender, i.e. [ŋ̊] . The dotless i, <ı>, is used when the dot would interfere with the diacritic. Other IPA symbols may appear as diacritics to represent phonetic detail: [tˢ]

(fricative release), [bʱ]
(breathy voice), [ˀa]
(glottal onset),  (epenthetic schwa), o[ʊ]


Syllabicity diacritics
[ɹ̩ n̩] Syllabic [e̯ ʊ̯] Non-syllabic
Consonant-release diacritics
[tʰ dʰ] Aspirated[1] [d̚] No audible release
[dⁿ] Nasal release [dˡ] Lateral release
Phonation diacritics
[n̥ d̥] Voiceless [s̬ t̬] Voiced
[b̤ a̤] Breathy voiced[2] [b̰ a̰] Creaky voiced
Articulation diacritics
[t̪ d̪] Dental [t̼ d̼] Linguolabial
[t̺ d̺] Apical [t̻ d̻] Laminal
[u̟ t̟] Advanced [i̠ t̠] Retracted
[ë ä] Centralized [e̽ ɯ̽] Mid-centralized
[e̝ ɹ̝ ˔] Raised ([ɹ̝]

= voiced alveolar nonsibilant fricative)

[e̞ β̞ ˕] Lowered ([β̞]

= bilabial approximant)

Co-articulation diacritics
[ɔ̹ x̹] More rounded [ɔ̜ x̜ʷ] Less rounded
[tʷ dʷ] Labialized [tʲ dʲ] Palatalized
[tˠ dˠ] Velarized [tˁ dˁ] Pharyngealized
[ɫ] [z̴] Velarized or pharyngealized
[e̘ o̘] Advanced tongue root [e̙ o̙] Retracted tongue root
[ẽ z̃] Nasalized [ɚ ɝ] Rhoticity


  1. With aspirated voiced consonants, the aspiration is also voiced. Many linguists prefer one of the diacritics dedicated to breathy voice.
  2. Some linguists restrict this breathy-voice diacritic to sonorants, and transcribe obstruents as [bʱ]

The state of the glottis can be finely transcribed with diacritics. A series of alveolar plosives ranging from an open to a closed glottis phonation are:

t voiceless
breathy voice, also called murmured
slack voice
d modal voice
stiff voice
creaky voice
ʔ͡t glottal closure

Extended IPA diacriticsEdit

The letters and diacritics of the ExtIPA

The ExtIPA has widened the use of some of the regular IPA diacritics, such as [ʰp]

for pre-aspiration, or [s̼]
for a linguolabial sibilant, as well as adding some new ones. Some of the ExtIPA diacritics can be used for non-disordered speech as well, for example for the unusual airstream mechanisms of Damin.  

One modification is the use of subscript parentheses around the phonation diacritics to indicate partial phonation; a single parenthesis at the left or right of the voicing indicates that it is partially phonated at the beginning or end of the segment. For example, [₍s̬₎]

is a partially voiced [s], [₍s̬]
shows partial initial voicing, and [s̬₎]
partial final voicing; also [₍z̥₎]
is a partially devoiced [z], [₍z̥]
shows partial initial devoicing, and [z̥₎]

partial final devoicing. These conventions may be convenient for representing various voice onset times.

Phonation diacritics may also be prefixed or suffixed rather than placed directly under the segment to represent relative timing. For instance, [ɶnbsp;̬z]

is a pre-voiced [z], [zɶnbsp;̬]

a post-voiced [z], and [aɶnbsp;̰]

is an [a] with a creaky offglide.  

Other ExtIPA diacritics are,

Airstream mechanism
[p↓] Ingressive airflow [!↑] Egressive airflow
[p⁼] Unaspirated [ạ] Whispery phonation
aĦ Faucalized voice (stretched pharynx,
as in a yawn)
a! Harsh voice, ('pressed voice'; involves the
false vocal cords, as when lifting a load)
[n͋ɶnbsp;ɶnbsp;ɶnbsp;ɶnbsp;v͋] Nasal fricative or frication [m͊] Denasal (as with a headcold)
Articulatory strength
[f͈] Strong articulation [v͉] Weak articulation
[v͆] Dentolabial [n̪͆ɶnbsp;ɶnbsp;ɶnbsp;ɶnbsp;h̪͆] Interdental or bidental
[s͇ɶnbsp;ɶnbsp;ɶnbsp;ɶnbsp;f͇] Alveolar(ized) [s͎] Whistled articulation
Secondary articulation
[s͍] Labial spreading (see rounded vowel) xœ Open-rounded labialization

Labiodentalized [s͌] Velopharyngeal friction
[s͢θ] Slurred/sliding articulation [ɸɸp] Stutter (reiterated articulation)

In addition to these symbols, a subscript < or > indicates that an articulation is laterally offset to the left or right, and a double exclamation mark indicates 'ventricular' phonation, though it is not clear how this differs from 'harsh' phonation.

Prosodic notationEdit

The ExtIPA also makes use of musical notation for the tempo and dynamics of connected speech. These are subscripted on the insides of a {brace} notation that indicates that they are comments on the prosody.

Pauses are indicated with periods or numbers inside parentheses.

(.)Short pause(..)Medium pause(...)Long pause(1.2)1.2-second pause
fLoud speech
[{f lɑʊd f}]ffLouder speech
[{ff lɑʊdɚ ff}]
pQuiet speech
[{p kwaɪət p}]ppQuieter speech
[{pp kwaɪətɚ pp}]
allegroFast speech[{allegro fɑːst allegro}]lentoSlow speech[{lento sloʊ lento}]
crescendo, rallentando, and other musical terms may also be used.


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