International Phonetic Alphabet, IPA chart

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The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA)"The acronym 'IPA' strictly refers [...] to the 'International Phonetic Association'. But it is now such a common practice to use the acronym also to refer to the alphabet itself (from the phrase 'International Phonetic Alphabet') that resistance seems pedantic. Context usually serves to disambiguate the two usages." (Laver 1994:561)


The International Phonetic Alphabet is occasionally modified by the Association. After each modification, the Association provides an updated simplified presentation of the alphabet in the form of a chart. (See History of the IPA.) The most recent official chart, from 2005, is presented at right. Not all aspects of the alphabet can be accommodated in a chart. The indefinitely large number of tone letters, for example, make a full accounting impractical, and only a few examples are shown.

The procedure for modifying the alphabet or the chart is to propose the change in the Journal of the IPA. (See, for example, August 2008 on a low central vowel and August 2011 on central approximants.) Reactions to the proposal may be published in the same or subsequent issues of the Journal (as in August 2009 on the low central vowel). A formal proposal is then put to the Council of the IPA (which is elected by the membership)

for further discussion and a formal vote.

Only changes to the alphabet or chart that have been approved by the Council can be considered part of the official IPA. Nonetheless, many users of the alphabet, including the leadership of the Association itself, make personal changes or additions in their own practice, either for convenience in working on a particular language (see "Illustrations of the IPA" for individual languages in the Handbook, which for example may use for ), or because they object to some aspect of the official version. For example, the chart displayed above is reorganized in response to perceived shortcomings of the official version, and in places reflects the organization of the 1979 chart.

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External Links

  • WikipediaInternational Phonetic Alphabet Chart with SoundsLinguistics IPA LAB

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