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    #1

    Different versions of the English phonetic alphabet?

    Hello,


    I've been trying to memorize the phonemic symbols of the English language. However, several weeks into studying them, I've seem to come across evidence that there are different versions of the English phonetic alphabet. This is kind of confusing/upsetting to me, because I thought that all phonemic symbols are supposed to form part of the IPA ("International Phonetic Alphabet"), which is universally agreed upon by academia everywhere.


    Specifically, I found at least three different versions of the English phonemic alphabet among prominent online dictionaries, those being:


    1) Mirriam-Webster


    2) The Oxford English Dictionary (which Google seems to use as well, as evidenced by their phonetic transcription of the word "forty" here)


    3) Cambridge English Dictionary


    So what's going on here?! Is there really no academic consensus as to which is the true phonetic alphabet of the English language? Does each of these different versions have a different name? This to me seems akin to three different chemistry books all having different periodic tables and honestly it's really bothering me, so any clarification would be greatly appreciated.

  1. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Different versions of the English phonetic alphabet?

    To save us having to click on those three links and search for the differences ourselves, please list the letters for which different symbols/descriptions are given.
    Last edited by emsr2d2; 10-Jul-2016 at 21:35. Reason: Realised original didn't make much sense so edited
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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    #3

    Re: Different versions of the English phonetic alphabet?

    Not a bad idea emsr2d2, I'll take a specific word and and look at that in a little more detail to exemplify some of the differences. Also, to modify my original post a little, it's worth noting that it seems that Mirriam-Webster and Oxford both employ basically the same phonetic alphabet, except for one or two phonemes related to the "o" sound. However, they are both radically different from the phonetic alphabet that Cambridge uses.

    For example, take the word "conscientious" and look at its transcription:

    1) MW & Oxford: /
    ˌkän(t)SHēˈen(t)SHəs/

    2) Cambridge: /ˌkɑn·ʃiˈen·ʃəs/

    That's quite radically different, and I'd like to know what accounts for this difference...

  2. Raymott's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Different versions of the English phonetic alphabet?

    "...because I thought that all phonemic symbols are supposed to form part of the IPA"

    No, this is not right. There is no authority that can force a dictionary editor to use IPA.
    Foreign language guide books are likely to give you: "kon-she-en-shuhs" - which is fine if you know how to say 'shuhs'.

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    #5

    Re: Different versions of the English phonetic alphabet?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    "...because I thought that all phonemic symbols are supposed to form part of the IPA"

    No, this is not right. There is no authority that can force a dictionary editor to use IPA.
    Foreign language guide books are likely to give you: "kon-she-en-shuhs" - which is fine if you know how to say 'shuhs'.
    Okay, thanks Raymott. Do you happen to know which of those two transcriptions is considered to be IPA then? And for whichever one is not IPA, is there a name for the "alphabet" comprising that set of symbols?

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    #6

    Re: Different versions of the English phonetic alphabet?

    The second is IPA. But you're a native English-speaking English teacher. So, I'll let you find the name of the other one. (I don't know).

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    #7

    Re: Different versions of the English phonetic alphabet?

    The second uses IPA symbols, but they are not all pronounced in the approved IPA way. There is one, and only one way of pronouncing IPA symbols. You can hear the sounds here: http://www.internationalphoneticalph...t-with-sounds/. Phonetic transcriptions are written between square brackets:

    Cambridge, like many dictionaries, uses phonemic transcription, which goes between forward slashes. Phonemic symbols are based on the IPA system, modified for use with different languages.

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