Do enough people know IPA that I can use it instead of phonetic spelling? Or should I use both? I tend to use phonetic spelling just because it seems easy to read, but IPA would definitely be better if people would understand it.


2 Answers 2


IPA is a great tool for linguists. Most people don't know it, however, especially not readily, and a lot of people don't even have the fonts installed on their computers, so all they will see is a bunch of little boxes. I'd avoid it just on the principle of reaching more people with standard phonetic pronunciation.

  • Is there a reference for 'standard phonetic pronunciation'?
    – Mitch
    Commented Aug 31, 2011 at 15:01
  • 1
    @Mitch: I just mean whatever is given in the current dictionary you're using.
    – Robusto
    Commented Aug 31, 2011 at 15:26
  • I'd prefer IPA because it is a standard. But it needs a special keyboard/key mapping/editor to get the Unicode characters. Phonetic spelling is so easy because you just do it. But because of that (and complexities of English spelling), there's lots of variability (from person to person, dictionary to dictionary). I just thought that you might have a suggestion of one standard to follow.
    – Mitch
    Commented Aug 31, 2011 at 17:11
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    @Mitch for a start, you can use this:ipa.typeit.org Commented Sep 2, 2011 at 5:06

It is up to you. You can use either of them (or both). If the question uses IPA or the phonetic spelling, do the same in the answer. Take cues from the nature of the question or on the asker.

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