International Phonetic Alphabet

Alphabet international phonétique

French international phonetic alphabet
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The International Phonetic Alphabet, or IPA, is a set of characters used to standardize pronunciation explanations across languages. Since any given letter may be pronounced differently in two languages (and even within a single language), the IPA uses a unique symbol for each sound, which makes pronunciation discussions much easier. Knowing the IPA is particularly useful when you look up a new word in the dictionary to find out how it’s pronounced.

For example, the sound that may be spelled c (cat), ch (chaos), ck (pack), or k (kite) is always spelled [k] in the IPA. Meanwhile, the c in "ice" and the s in "sit" are always spelled [s].

Similarly, you already know that the letter r is pronounced differently in English and French, and you may know that it has a third pronunciation in Spanish. These three sounds each have their own IPA symbol, which eliminates confusion about how to pronounce them in any language.

IPA Conventions

  • IPA spellings are placed between square brackets [ ] or slashes / / (yes, there is a difference).
  • Each sound has a single symbol, and each symbol has a single sound.
  • Silent letters are ignored.

IPA spellings often do not include spaces between syllables, but I find it helpful to add them.

French IPA Symbols

 Related lessons

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