I have a made up word (being used as brand name for a project I'm working on) and I know how it is pronounced and I can write it phonetically, but I need to know how to write the pronunciation with the correct 'notation' as used in dictionaries. Please pardon my ignorance when it comes to terminology.

Is it a valid question to ask on this site? If not, does anyone know where I can find the information please? As it's a made up word I can't use a dictionary to copy it from there.


  • Dictionaries usually include a pronunciation key somewhere (at least, print dictionaries do, and at least some online dictionaries like the OED). Is there any reason you can't use that?
    – herisson
    Apr 5 '17 at 18:47
  • 2
    Check Wikipedia on IPA transcription. It's not on topic here because it's not specific to English, and since you've invented it ex-nihilio, we won't be able to provide any other research or information specific to your word. If, during your research into IP, you come across any other questions about English, feel free to ask.
    – Dan Bron
    Apr 5 '17 at 20:47
  • @DanBron Thanks for the clarification - glad I asked!
    – Lyall
    Apr 6 '17 at 11:18
  • @DanBron I reckon it should be ok. Dictionary transcriptions are English-specific. They cannot describe phonemes or phones of other languages. The transcription of OP's word is going to be English-specific as will be the name of the brand. /sdæ/ for example will be impossible, but /stɑ:/ would be perfectly fine. Apr 7 '17 at 8:57

The phonotactic constraints of English will strictly circumscribe what the pronunciation of your brand name is (so, for example /sdæ/ will be impossible, but /stɑ:/ would be perfectly fine). In addition, the conventions for the transcription of English are language-specific and not applicable to the phonemic transcription of other languages. So long as your brand name is not already a recognised word (or a homophone of a recognised word)—in which case you can just look the word up in a dictionary and copy the transcription—the question should be on topic for this site. That's how I see it, anyway.


Of course, in general, questions about pronunciation notations and their correspondence with actual pronunciation are on-topic.

But you question could easily be off-topic for other reasons, eg 'How do you pronounce this word I made up?' is considered off-topic.

Your question seems to be somewhere in the middle. To make it more on-topic, you'll want to steer things towards the differences between the notations, rather than the specifics of your word. But it would be on-topic to use your new word as an example of the differences between notations.

Or for a specific question 'How do I notate my new word in the system that Merriam-Webster does?' you can always ask on chat and maybe get a quicker answer (or possibly not, depends on who's there when).

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