English is a spoken language; its phonetics vary largely and are an important part of "knowing" English and asking questions about it. We will undoubtably deal with questions related to English pronunciation, general questions about English phonology and phonotactics, etc.

  • How can we transcribe these sounds? I would nominate the IPA.
  • How can we encourage the unified use of the IPA throughout all questions? Should we?
  • IPA entry is hard. Can we provide a web interface without complicating text entry?

4 Answers 4


I agree with use of the IPA, although we shouldn't pounce on anyone who doesn't know it. I would be in favor of experienced, high-reputation users getting into the habit of adding IPA to questions that don't have it but need it. (But not removing non-IPA pronunciation information).

As for IPA text entry, for starters, we can point people to sites like this IPA keyboard for assistance in typing IPA, although one customized for English sounds would be better.

Finally, we'll definitely need a big section in the FAQ discussing pronunciation and ways for representing it.

  • 6
    +1 mostly for not pouncing on those who don't know it; there is a rather high barrier to entry for casual users, even if we can make a simple UI.
    – Pops
    Commented Aug 6, 2010 at 4:58
  • 1
    True definitely don't want to alienate people, especially those using this as a resource to learn English. I really like the idea of using the moderators to edit where IPA is needed. Also, it's a good start to just agree on IPA.
    – Charlie
    Commented Aug 6, 2010 at 5:53
  • +1 For not being pounced on... Judging from your linked page, I'm not going to be understanding IPA any time soon :(
    – Benjol
    Commented Aug 16, 2010 at 8:55

There's also the IPA interfaces at

plus the rendition of the English Phonemic Alphabet here.

If you have a Mac, of course, the Special Characters chart (at the bottom of the Edit menu) has everything one needs, provided one sets one's Text Encoding (bottom of the View menu) to UTF-8.


There are (at least) three forms of ASCII representations of IPA, SAMPA, XSAMPA and Kirchsenbaum.

The LaTex world probably has another, but I'm too lazy to go ask on the TeX site.


I am strongly for IPA

Why, for example, ˈʃedjuːl ˈʃedʒuːl ˈskedʒuːl ˈskedjuːl ˈʃedʒʌl ˈskedʒʌl, are not used for deciding, what prononciation of "schedule" is correct for BE. I haven't understood the result of the discussion in The British pronunciation of the word "schedule". Because I need to set questions about what did the sides mean by their "transcriptions"

Using simply English letters for showing pronunciation is not understandable, because there is no standard reading for them. So, the only sensible non-oxford transcription would look like: b as in "bee", a as in "ball", l as in "letter". And this is terribly inconvenient. bɔːl is easier.

I understand, that writing the correct transcription in the browser is not so easy, so, maybe, the site could propose some formatting technique for it?


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