Hello language lovers!
Would you like to be able to pronounce any word in any language? The key to this is the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA)! Spelling, also known as orthography, does not represent the sounds of a language.
The IPA was first published in 1888 and was created with the intention to standardize the representation of spoken language. Each sound in a language has a corresponding phonetic symbol. If you’ve ever wondered what the symbols behind a word in a dictionary [/ˈdɪkʃn̩(ə)ri/] are: it’s the phonetic transcription of the term. Before the IPA, a multitude of different transcription systems existed. Roman characters are primarily used and other letters are borrowed from different scripts and modified into Roman style.
The IPA helps us with three important areas: manner of articulation, place of articulation and voicing. In order to produce sounds, we need to use mouth, lips, tongue, teeth and throat to induce some type of obstruction in the airflow. The different obstructions help to produce various sounds.
Watch the video to learn more!
The International Phonetic Alphabet table
Britannica. 2021. International Phonetic Alphabet. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.britannica.com/topic/International-Phonetic-Alphabet. [Accessed 1 February 2021].
Written by Victoria Milhan, Schuman Communication Trainee Terminology Coordination Unit. She holds master’s degrees in English Language (linguistics) and Medieval English Literature, Newer English Literature and Celtic Studies. Victoria is enrolled as a PhD student at Bonn University in Germany.