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
t?
 
chip
?
 
jar
x
 
loch
?
 
ring
θ
 
thin
e
 
this
?
 
she
?
 
decision
j
 
yes


Vowels

Symbol
 
Example
Short vowels
 
 
a
as in
cat
?
 
bed
?
 
ago
?
 
sit
i
 
cosy
?
 
hot
?
 
run
?
 
put
Long vowels
 
 
ɑ?
 
arm
??
 
hair
??
 
her
i?
 
see
??
 
saw
u?
 
too
Diphthongs
 
 
??
 
my
a?
 
how
e?
 
day
??
 
no
??
 
near
??
 
boy
??
 
poor
Triphthongs
 
 
???
 
fire
a??
 
sour


In multisyllable words the symbol ? is used to show that the following syllable is stressed, as in /k??bal/; the symbol ? indicates a secondary stress, as in /?kal??bri?s/.

(?) 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. /?b?t(?)n/ rather than /?b?t?n/.

(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
t?
as in 'chip'
j
d?
as in 'jar'
KH
x
 as in 'loch'
NG
?
as in 'ring'
TH
θ
 as in 'thin'
TH
e
as in 'this'
SH
?
as in 'she'
ZH
?
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
?
as in 'bed'
?
?
as in 'ɑgo', 'run', 'person'
ē
i
as in 'see'
i
?
as in 'sit'
?
ɑ
as in 'hot', 'ɑrm'
o?o
?
as in 'put', 'poor'
?
?
as in 'sɑw'
uu
as in 'too'
ī
a?
as in 'my'
oi
??
as in 'boy'
ā
e?
as in 'dɑy'
ou
a?
as in 'how'
ō
o?
as in 'no'
e(?)r
?r
as in 'hɑir'
i(?)r
?r
as in 'near'


In polysyllabic words the symbol ? is used to show that the following syllable is stressed, as in cabal /k??b?l/ IPA /k??bɑl/. The symbol ? indicates a secondary stress, as in collocation /?k?l??kāSH?n/ IPA /kɑl??ke???n/.


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
t?
 
chip
d?
 
jar
x
 
loch
?
 
ring
θ
 
thin
e
 
this
?
 
she
?
 
decision
j
 
yes
(h)w
 
when


Vowels

Symbol
 
Example
?
as in
cat
?
 
bed, hair
?
 
ago, run, person
?
 
sit, near
i
 
see, cosy
ɑ
 
hot, arm
?
 
put, poor
?
 
saw
u
 
too
a?
 
my
a?
 
how
e?
 
day
??
 
boy
o?
 
no


In multisyllable words the symbol ? is used to show that the following syllable is stressed, as in cabal /k??bɑl/; the symbol ? indicates a secondary stress, as in coriander /?k?ri??nd?r/.

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