Help:Pronunciation respelling key

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This pronunciation respelling key (prə-nun-see-ay-shən ree-spel-ing kee) is used in some Wikipedia articles to respell the pronunciations of English words. It does not use special symbols or diacritics apart from the schwa (ə) which is used (for example) for the a in about.

It should be noted that the standard set of symbols used to show the pronunciation of English words in Wikipedia is the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). The IPA has significant advantages over the respelling system described here, as it can be used to accurately represent pronunciations from any language in the world, and (being an international standard) is often more familiar to non-native speakers of English. On the other hand, the IPA (being designed to represent sounds from any language in the world) is not as intuitive for those chiefly familiar with English orthography, for whom this respelling system is likely to be easier for English words and names. Articles often provide pronunciations in both systems (see documentation at "Template:Respell" for an example).

Syllables and stress

Syllables are separated by pipes ("|") in the wikicode and by hyphens ("-") in the display. The stress on a syllable is indicated by writing the syllable in capital letters in wikicode, which become small capital letters in the display.[1]

Word Respelling symbols IPA symbols Notes
pronunciation prə-nun-see-ay-shən /prəˌnʌn.siˈeɪ.ʃən/ "Primary" and "secondary" stress are not distinguished, as the difference is automatic.

Note that the pronunciation respelling key works only with single words. Accordingly, the pronunciation respelling key for the two words "Klasky Csupo" would be {{respell|KLASS|kee}} {{respell|CHOO|poh}}.


Respelling symbol(s) Example IPA symbol Notes
a trap /æ/ Australian /æ/ or /æː/[2] Scottish /a/
ah palm /ɑː/
a(h) trap or palm /æ/ or /ɑː/ Either in free variation, or pronounced /ɑː/ in accents with trap–bath split and /æ/ in accents without the trap-bath split.
air square /ɛər/
ar start /ɑr/ Scottish /ar/
arr marry /ær/
aw thought /ɔː/ [3]
ay face /eɪ/
ə about /ə/ or /ɨ/ Unstressed neutral vowel.
(Sometimes i may be used for /ɨ/.)
ər letter /ər/ or /ɚ/ Unstressed neutral rhotic vowel
e or eh dress /ɛ/ Respelled eh when necessary to prevent misinterpretation as the sound of the letter "e" in "hero", e.g. Benin: beh-NEEN
ee fleece /iː/ or /i/ also the second vowel of city[4]
eer near /ɪər/
err merry /ɛr/
ew ewe, dew /juː/ American /u/ or /ju/[5]
ewr cure /jʊər/
eye item /aɪ/ Respelled -y after a consonant.
The same vowel as the price example below
i or ih kit /ɪ/ Respelled ih when necessary to prevent misinterpretation as the sound of the letter "i" in "hi-fi".
irr mirror /ɪr/
o not /ɒ/ May sometimes require additional clarification such as "O pronounced as in not" to prevent misinterpretation as the sound of the letter "o" in "open".
oh goat /oʊ/
oo food /uː/ Scottish /ʉ/
oor poor /ʊər/
or or ohr force or wore /ɔər/ Australian /oː(r)/
or or awr north or war /ɔr/
orr orange /ɒr/ Scottish /ɔr/
ow mouth /aʊ/
owr hour /aʊər/
oy choice /ɔɪ/
u or uh cut /ʌ/ Respelled uh when necessary to prevent misinterpretation as the sound of the letter "u" in "tune".
ur nurse /ɜr/ or /ɝː/ American /ɜr, ɝ/ Scottish /ʌr, ɛr, ɪr, ɜr/[6]
urr hurry /ʌr/
uu foot /ʊ/ Scottish /ʉ/
y price, dye /aɪ/ with a consonant, otherwise respelled eye.
American /aɪ/ or /ʌɪ/[7]
yr fire /aɪər/


Respelling symbol Example IPA symbol(s) Notes
b but, web /b/
ch church, nature /tʃ/
d do, odd /d/
dh this, father, breathe /ð/ This sound is similar to th /θ/, but voiced.
f fool, enough, leaf /f/
g or gh go, beg, ghee /ɡ/ Not as in gem or gin, which is j /dʒ/. For legibility, ghee is used instead of gee in a few articles.
h ham, ahead /h/
j gin, joy, edge /dʒ/
k cat, kiss, skin, quick /k/
kh chutzpah, loch /x/ Pronounced like h (at the beginning of a syllable) or k (at the end of a syllable) by many speakers
l left, bell /l/
m man, ham /m/
n no, tin /n/
ng ring, singer, sink /ŋ/ Not the sound in finger, which is ng-g /ŋɡ/.
ng-g finger /ŋɡ/
p pen, spin, tip /p/
r run, very /r/
s or ss see, city, pass /s/ Not as in rose, which is z /z/. Use ss in positions where single s is normally /z/ in English, such as the end of a word after a vowel or a voiced consonant: for example, transliterate "ice" as eyess, not eyes and "tense" as tenss, not tens.
sh she, sure, emotion, leash /ʃ/
t two, sting, bet /t/
th thing, teeth /θ/
v voice, have /v/
w we, quick /w/
wh what /hw/ In many dialects, people substitute w for this sound.
y yes /j/
z zoo, rose, lens /z/
zh pleasure, vision, beige /ʒ/ Some speakers may substitute j /dʒ/ for this sound at the beginning of a word, except in proper names such as Zsa Zsa.

Optional sounds

When a certain sound is pronounced by some speakers but not by others, the sound is put inside parentheses (round brackets). It is correct to say the word either with or without the sound. For example, the respelled pronunciation of the word fuchsia is "FEW-sh(ee)ə". It can either be pronounced "FEW-shee-ə" or "FEW-shə".

See also


  1. ^ Wikipedia editors can create small capital letters like this: "{{sc|syllable in lowercase (small) letters}}".
  2. ^ See "Bad–lad split" for details of this distinction.
  3. ^ This assumes the absence of the cot–caught merger. In accents with this merger, aw represents the same sound as o.
  4. ^ This assumes "happy-tensing". In accents without happy-tensing, unstressed ee is pronounced like i.
  5. ^ Dependent on accent, the /j/ is pronounced after some consonants, coalesceses with other consonants or is dropped entirely.
  6. ^ See Fern–fir–fur merger for details of this distinction.
  7. ^ Value depends on voicing of following consonant; phonemic for very few words. Distinction can be made by adjoining consonant: Myki MY-kee, Mikey MYK-ee.