International Phonetic Alphabet, Obsolete and nonstandard symbols

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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 IPA inherited alternate symbols from various traditions, but eventually settled on one for each sound. The other symbols are now considered obsolete. An example is which has been standardized to . Several letters indicating secondary articulation have been dropped altogether, with the idea that such things should be indicated with diacritics: for is one. In addition, the rare voiceless implosive series has been dropped; they are now written or . A rejected competing proposal for transcribing clicks, , is still sometimes seen, as the official letters may cause problems with legibility, especially when used with brackets ([ ] or / /), the letter , or the prosodic marks (for this reason, some publications which use standard IPA click letters disallow IPA brackets).

There are also unsupported or ad hoc letters from local traditions that find their way into publications that otherwise use the standard IPA. This is especially common with affricates such as the "barred lambda" for .

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External Links

  • WikipediaInternational Phonetic Alphabet Chart with SoundsLinguistics IPA LAB

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