Should I report the pronunciation as |ˈˌdaɪəˈˌkrɪdəkəl|, or [ˈˌdaɪəˈˌkrɪdəkəl]?


I think the best way to report pronunciations for the general audience is to use a basic IPA transcription for English and enclose the pronunciations in /slashes/. This matches how dictionaries that use IPA, such as Cambridge and Oxford, mark pronunciations.

I think the other symbols for phonetic transcriptions, like [square brackets] and |pipes| are best left for detailed discussions of phonetics.


  • What should I do when I report the pronunciation I find in the NOAD? The NOAD uses | to delimit a pronunciation. – apaderno Sep 4 '10 at 11:26
  • @kiamlaluno The printed edition of the NOAD uses slashes. I’m not sure why the electronic version uses pipes. It’s weird. Feel free to change them to slashes when reporting them; but also feel free to report them with slashes. – nohat Mod Sep 8 '10 at 22:40

The standard convention is [brackets]. Sometimes |pipes| are used to distinguish narrow and broad transcriptions (possibly not used in a consistent way by everyone, based on what nohat says). In any case, unless these distinctions are important to the specific answer, then [brackets] are fine.

As for stress, normally the ˈ notation refers to primary stress and ˌ refers to secondary stress (if there is one). So I would transcribe diacritical as:

[ˌdaɪ ə ˈkɹɪ ɾə kəl]

The sound that you transcribed as [d] is normally transcribed as a flap [ɾ]. (Also, it is worth noting that, although [ɹ] is technically the "r" sound of most English dialects, many linguists simply use the symbol [r] when this distinction is not critical (for convenience); so, feel free to do that.)

Edit: I should mention that using a [d] in place of [ɾ] might be done in a non-IPA transcription — sometimes dictionary pronunciations change around symbols to make it more readable to someone who never learned IPA. But it's not completely accurate.

  • I didn't notice that they were using both the primary stress and secondary stress in the same place. It's the first time they do that; the pronunciation of antibody is reported to be [ˈæn(t)iˌbɑdi] (without a secondary stress mark in the same place of the primary stress mark). – apaderno Sep 3 '10 at 13:40
  • erm, isn’t it usually /slashes/ used for broad/phonemic transcriptions and |pipes| are used for morphophonemic transcriptions? – nohat Mod Sep 3 '10 at 15:55
  • In my department, we have been using the pipes for broader than narrow, but not phonemic transcription. But I will fix that if it is not broadly used. – Kosmonaut Sep 3 '10 at 21:54
  • Slashes and square brackets are the only delimiters discussed in the Handbook of the IPA (books.google.com/…) – nohat Mod Sep 3 '10 at 22:49
  • Slashes for broad, brackets for narrow–should come to a consensus what the broad/narrow distinction is, e.g., I wouldn't use the flap in most broad transcriptions unless making a point about it. Also, very against [r] in English transcriptions, we have no trills. – Charlie Sep 4 '10 at 2:51
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    Eh, it's very hard to come to a consensus about the distinction between broad and narrow. Am I doing a broad transcription if, for example, I don't use [ɫ] in the word [kɪl]? And don't forget aspiration — it should really be written as [kʰɪɫ]. Or what if I don't mark the nasalization of the vowel in [hænd]? That's why we sometimes use pipes for in between stuff :) – Kosmonaut Sep 4 '10 at 3:07
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    as for [r], I am a big fan of using it in English transcriptions, it is easy to type and to read, and, believe or not, it is actually recommended by the International Phonetic Association to use normal roman letters in pronunciations even if the nominal sound doesn’t match exactly how the sound is produced in the language. – nohat Mod Sep 8 '10 at 22:03
  • I actually think we could possibly just include a brief key to all of the relevant English IPA symbols in the FAQ. – Kosmonaut Sep 9 '10 at 3:03

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