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IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet Symbols)

with Lessac Diacritcal Markings: Study Guide


© 2020 Anita Jo Lenhart, Professor, Theatre & Dance
The University of Memphis
Most Dialects of English-speaking peoples can be transcribed using the following sounds selected from the
International Phonetic Alphabet
An effective method of study is daily transcribing (by hand) two or three words for each vowel sound,
using as many different consonant sounds as you can. Rotate the vowel position: that is, list a word that
begins with the vowel, then one with the vowel in a medial position, then one that ends with the vowel,
(when applicable.) Write the word in English, then next to it, transcribe the word in IPA
6 FRONTAL VOWEL Sounds
i = as in eaze [iz], people [ˈpipəl], flee [fli] – Lessac ybuzz
ɪ = as in ill [ɪl], kid [kɪd], and anything which rhymes with “fear” [fIr] or [fɪər],
and anything which rhymes with “sing” [sɪŋ], think  [θɪŋk]
- Lessac “unTIL” call and N2
e = known as "pure a"; use in primary positions only: ape [ep] eight [et] age [ed͡ʒ]
ɛ = as in egg [ɛg], cent [sɛnt],  and anything which rhymes with “hair” [hɛr] or [hɛər]
- Lessac “aGAIN” and “t’CARE” call and N3
æ = as in ash [æʃ], cad [kæd] and anything which rhymes with sang [sæŋ] – Lessac#6
a = known as the "harvard a"; used in Irish in place of [æ] and other dialects

ˈ
4 MID VOWELS Sounds: note the stress mark on “accented” syllables
• (SCHWA) – the two sounds below sound exactly the same: - both are Lessac N4
ʌ = under [ˈʌndɚ], cutter [ˈkʌtɚ], - use in stressed syllables
ə = above [əˈbʌv], peop le [ˈpipəl], risen [ˈrɪzən] – use in unstressed syllables

• (-ER) – the two sounds below sound exactly the same: - both are Lessac 3R
ɝ = earth [ɝθ], churning [ˈt͡ʃɝnɪŋ], murder [ˈmɝdɚ] - use in stressed syllables
ɚ = sister [ˈsɪstɚ], bursitis [bɚˈsaɪtɪs], murder [ˈmɝdɚ] – use in unstressed syllables
Explanation of stressed vs unstressed can be found at this website:
http://wstyler.ucsd.edu/posts/difference_schwa_wedge.html

6 BACK VOWEL Sounds


u = oops [ups], cougar [ˈkugɚ], flew [flu], few [fju], through [θru] – Lessac #1
ʊ = footer [ˈfʊtɚ], would [wʊd] and anything rhyming with “your” [jʊr] or [jʊər] – N1
o = "pure o" - use in primary position as in oats [ots] or open [ˈopən]- Lessac #2
ɔ = Paul [pɔl], smaller [ˈsmɔlɚ], ought [ɔt], flaw [flɔ]  and anything rhyming with
“more” [mɔr] or [mɔər]- Lessac #3
ɒ = odd, [ɒd], John [d͡ʒɒn], bob [bɒb] - Lessac #4
ɑ = father [ˈfɑðɚ], raja,[rɑʒɑ], blah [blɑ] – Lessac #5
 

5 DIPHTHONG Sounds
Lenhart
The University of Memphis
eɪ = late [leɪt], sleigh [sleɪ] – Lessac “Away” and +y
aɪ = idle [ˈaɪdəl], striped [straɪpt], why [hwaɪ] – Lessac #6y
ɔɪ = oyster [ˈɔɪstɚ], annoint [əˈnɔɪnt], soy [sɔɪ] – Lessac #3y
oʊ = hope [hoʊp], toast [toʊst], although [ɔlˈðoʊ] – Lessac #21
aʊ = out [aʊt], crowd [kraʊd], pow [paʊ] – Lessac #51
28 CONSONANT Sounds
(nazals)
ŋ as in sing or penguin [sɪŋ] [ˈpɛŋgwɪn] “oboe”
m, n as in man [mæn] “viola”
n as in name [neɪm] “violin”
(plosives – cognate pairs)
p, b as in pub or bop [pʌb] [bɒp] “bass drum” / “tympani
t, d as in heat or heat [hid] [hit] “snare drum” / “tympani”
k, g as in hack or hag [hæk] [hæg] “tomtom” / “tympani”
(affricatives – cognate pair)
͡ts, d͡z as in bits or beds [bɪt͡s] [bɛd͡z] “high hat cymbal”,
“tambourine”

͡tʃ, d͡ʒ, as in church or judge [t͡ʃɝt͡ʃ] [d͡ʒʌd͡ʒ] “crash cymbal”,


“Chinese cymbal”
(fricatives – cognate pairs)
f, v as in life or live [laɪf] [lɪv] “fan”/cello
ɵ, ð as in think or then [ɵɪŋk] [ðɛn] “bellows”/clarinet
s, z as in bus or buzz [bʌs] [bʌz] “radiator”/bass fiddle
ʃ, ʒ as in wash or mirage [wɑʃ] [mɪˈrɑʒ] “wind”/bassoon
h as in heap or who [hip] [hu] “fan”
(glides or “semi-vowels”)
l as in luck or doll [lʌk] [dɒl] “saxophone”
r as in rear or terror or tar [rɪr] [ˈtɛrɚ] [tɑr] “trombone”
j as in yes or layer [jɛs] [ˈleɪjɚ] “French horn”
w as in weave or beware [wiv] [bɪˈwɛr] “flute”
hw as in why or when [hwaɪ] [hwɛn]

• stress mark looks like: ˈ • glottal stop looks like: ʔ (but avoid this vocal habit!)
[‘hɛloʊ aɪ hoʊp ju wɪl ɛnˈd͡ʒɔɪ ˈlɝnɪŋ haʊ tu trænˈskraɪb ˈspoʊkən wɝdz - d͡ʒoʊ ˈlɛnhɑrt]

Wish to Check Your Work? - IPA transcriptions of words can be found at MacMillan’s Pronouncing Dictionary: choose
American pronunciation and select “SAVE” at this link: https://www.macmillandictionary.com/us/options.html

IPA Symbols can be found at https://ipa.typeit.org/full/ or you can download an IPA app to your device. OR – although
unwieldy – you can copy and paste symbols from this document into your own. Select LUNCINDA GRANDE as your font
so symbols are accurate. Still, the best - and fastest - method is to learn to clearly transcribe by hand! Feel free to use this
document, but please credit Anita Jo Lenhart.