Are there any alternative standards to the IPA for phonetic transcription without the use of special characters? For instance, in this chart of ICAO phonetic alphabet, phonetic pronunciations are listed without the use of any special characters.

Is there a standard for mapping IPA to such phonetic equivalents?

  • 2
    This is really more of a linguistics question than an EL&U.SE question. You might consider committing to the Linguistics.SE site.
    – Robusto
    Apr 15, 2011 at 13:41
  • @Robusto I guess so. However, this can be useful for English language learners as this could fall under 'Problems encountered by people learning English' in the FAQ for EL&U.SE. Perhaps this could be moved to meta EL&U? Apr 15, 2011 at 13:58

2 Answers 2


There are various respelling alphabets used in many dictionaries. Each works differently and should be looked up in the source using it -- there's no standardization.

There are transcription schemes for IPA that don't use special characters -- SAMPA and its extension X-SAMPA.

You don't want Americanist phonetics which is rapidly falling out of favor and does use special characters.


Someone asked this already some time ago. But like I said there, IPA is the way to go.

Charles here touched some important matter: Standardization. I'll treat this differently.

You can use "any means" to explain, let's say, the pronunciation to a broad audience, but who will understand what? There are some things that can be understood, but there will always be slight differences and, not to be underestimated, mistakes.

Take for example, the word "book" and "cool". If I had to explain their pronunciation to some foreigner, how should I with a spelled out pronunciation? Although it may seem so, that "oo" in book is different from the "oo" in cool.

IPA for "book" is |bʊk|, "cool" is |kuːl|. This is because of some reasons I won't explain here (too long and off topic) but the important point I wanted to show is that, although they seem similar words, they have different pronunciations, which is hard and not efficient to be shown with something other than IPA.

  • I did read the recent question regarding IPA use on meta; in fact, that's what made me ask this question. Which is why I was wondering whether there's a standardised way of mapping from IPA to one without a special char symbol set. @Charles pointed out something like what I was thinking of, for instance. Apr 16, 2011 at 12:52

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