A Key To English Pronunciations

 

Pronunciations for the UK English English dictionary

The pronunciations given represent the standard accent of English as spoken in the south of England (sometimes called Received Pronunciation or RP), and the example words given in this key are to be understood as pronounced in such speech.

Consonants 

The letters b, d, f, h, k, l, m, n, p, r, s, t, v, w, and z have their usual English values. Other symbols are used as follows:

Symbol
 
Example
ɡ
as in
get

 
chip
ʤ
 
jar
x
 
loch
ŋ
 
ring
θ
 
thin
ð
 
this
ʃ
 
she
ʒ
 
decision
j
 
yes


Vowels

Symbol
 
Example
Short vowels
 
 
a
as in
cat
ɛ
 
bed
ə
 
ago
ɪ
 
sit
i
 
cosy
ɒ
 
hot
ʌ
 
run
ʊ
 
put
Long vowels
 
 
ɑː
 
arm
ɛː
 
hair
əː
 
her

 
see
ɔː
 
saw

 
too
Diphthongs
 
 
ʌɪ
 
my

 
how

 
day
əʊ
 
no
ɪə
 
near
ɔɪ
 
boy
ʊə
 
poor
Triphthongs
 
 
ʌɪə
 
fire
aʊə
 
sour


In multisyllable words the symbol ˈ is used to show that the following syllable is stressed, as in /kəˈbal/; the symbol ˌ indicates a secondary stress, as in /ˌkaləˈbriːs/.

(ə) before /l/, /m/, or /n/ indicates that the syllable may be realized with a syllabic l, m, or n, rather than with a vowel and consonant, e.g. /ˈbʌt(ə)n/ rather than /ˈbʌtən/.

(r) indicates an r that is sometimes sounded when a vowel follows, as in drawer, cha-chaing.


Pronunciations for US English 

The pronunciations given represent a general accent of American English, without certain features particular to New England or the southern states of the U.S., and the example words given in this key are to be understood as pronounced in such speech.

US pronunciations are transcribed in two ways, in traditional respelling (as seen in the New Oxford American Dictionary) and using symbols of the IPA.

In both systems, the letters b, d, f, h, k, l, m, n, p, r, s, t, v, and z have their usual English values. In IPA, d is also used to represent a ‘flapped t’ as in butter.
Other symbols are used as follows:

Consonants

Respelling
IPA
Example

CH

as in 'chip'
j

as in 'jar'
KH
x
 as in 'loch'
NG
ŋ
as in 'ring'
TH
θ
 as in 'thin'
TH
ð
as in 'this'
SH
ʃ
as in 'she'
ZH
ʒ
as in 'decision'
y
j
as in 'yes'
(h)w
(h)w
as in 'when'


Vowels

Respelling
IPA
Example
a
a
as in 'cɑt'
e
ɛ
as in 'bed'
ə
ə
as in 'ɑgo', 'run', 'person'
ē
i
as in 'see'
i
ɪ
as in 'sit'
ä
ɑ
as in 'hot', 'ɑrm'
o͝o
ʊ
as in 'put', 'poor'
ô
ɔ
as in 'sɑw'
uu
as in 'too'
ī

as in 'my'
oi
ɔɪ
as in 'boy'
ā

as in 'dɑy'
ou

as in 'how'
ō

as in 'no'
e(ə)r
ɛr
as in 'hɑir'
i(ə)r
ɪr
as in 'near'


In polysyllabic words the symbol ˈ is used to show that the following syllable is stressed, as in cabal /kəˈbäl/ IPA /kəˈbɑl/. The symbol ˌ indicates a secondary stress, as in collocation /ˌkäləˈkāSHən/ IPA /kɑləˈkeɪʃən/.


Pronunciations for American English IPA 

The pronunciations given represent a general accent of American English, without certain features particular to New England or the southern states of the U.S., and the example words given in this key are to be understood as pronounced in such speech.

The letters b, d, f, h, k, l, m, n, p, r, s, t, v, and z have their usual English values. d is also used to represent a "flapped" t, as in bitter. Other symbols are used as follows:

Consonants

Symbol
 
Example
g
as in
get

 
chip

 
jar
x
 
loch
ŋ
 
ring
θ
 
thin
ð
 
this
ʃ
 
she
ʒ
 
decision
j
 
yes
(h)w
 
when


Vowels

Symbol
 
Example
æ
as in
cat
ɛ
 
bed, hair
ə
 
ago, run, person
ɪ
 
sit, near
i
 
see, cosy
ɑ
 
hot, arm
ʊ
 
put, poor
ɔ
 
saw
u
 
too

 
my

 
how

 
day
ɔɪ
 
boy

 
no


In multisyllable words the symbol ˈ is used to show that the following syllable is stressed, as in cabal /kəˈbɑl/; the symbol ˌ indicates a secondary stress, as in coriander /ˌkɔriˈændər/.

See more from Tips For Job Applications