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The ASCII Phonetic Alphabet

The ASCII Phonetic Alphabet


You've already learned why regular English spelling won't work when we want to describe language sounds. You need a way to type sound symbols without needing to download special fonts. 
The International Phonetic Alphabet is very popular, and if you take other linguistics classes, you will probably learn the IPA. But there is one big problem with the IPA: the IPA symbols are difficult to type on computers. You can do it,  but you need special fonts and special software. This is very inconvenient and confusing.
When you want to write English sounds in computer documents or in email messages, it is better to use a phonetic alphabet that doesn't use the strange symbols like upside down e's, but uses regular symbols like ^ that are already on your keyboard. This class uses the ASCII Phonetic Alphabet, using keys you already have on your keyboard (by the way, it's called the ASCII Phonetic Alphabet because the letters and symbols displayed by computers are called ASCII characters.)
This means that for our class, you do not need to download any special fonts or characters. Instead, you'll use the keys already on your keyboard. Although not as complete as the IPA, which has many more symbols to describe sounds such as the "trill" -r in Spanish (as in Ramon and perro) or the "acht" (as in German achtung), the ASCII is sufficient for describing English sounds for this introductory course.
Remember that when you transcribe using the ASCII, put the symbols in brackets [ ] to distinguish the symbols from regular spelling.
Download a print-friendly copy of the ASCII Phonetic Alphabet Chart (.pdf)
Consonants
Vowels
ASCII
Sample Words
ASCII
Sample Words
p
pit, tip, spit, hiccough, appear
i:
beat, we, believe, people, money
b
ball, globe, amble, brick, bubble
i
in, bit, consist, injury, business
t
tag, pat, stick, pterodactyl, stuffed
ei
bait, reign, great, they, gauge
d
dip carddrop, loved, batted
e
bet, reception, says, guest, bury
k
kit, scoot, character, critique, exceed
e:
turn, learn, girl, world
g
guard, bag, designate, Pittsburgh
@
bat, laugh, anger, comrade, rally
?
uh-oh, O'ahu, ka'aina
u:
boot, who, sewer, duty, through
f
foot, laughphilosophy, coffee, carafe
u
put, foot, butcher, could
v
vest, dove, gravel, anvil, average
o:
boat, beau, grow, though, over
th
through, wraththistle, ether, teeth
o
bought, caught, wrong, stalk
TH
the, their, mother, either, teethe
a:
pot, father, sergeant, honor, hospital
s
soap, psychology, packs, peace
^
but, tough, another, oven, cinema
z
zip, roads, kissesXerox, design
ai
bite, stein, aisle, choir, island
S
shy, mission, nation, glacial, sure
au
bout, brown, doubt, flower, loud
Z
measure, vision, azure, casualty, decision
oi
boy, doily, rejoice, annoy
h
who, hat, rehash, hole, whole


tS
choke, match, feature, constituent


dZ
judge, George, Jello, region


m
moose, lamb, smack, amnesty


n
nap, design, snow, know


N
lung, think, singer


l
leaf, feelLloyd, mild


r
reef, fear, Harris, carp


D
writer, butter, ladder, clutter


w
with, swim, queen, twilight


hw
which, where, what, whale, why


j
you, beautiful, feud, use, yell


The ASCII phonetic alphabet, above, that we're using in our class is useful for a broad transcription of English. The International Phonetic Alphabet (the IPA) is better, with many more symbols, for describing languages other than English. You'll learn the IPA if you take phonetics class. Students interested in learning the IPA and downloading the IPA fonts should visit the International Phonetic Alphabet  website. For a side-by-side chart, download the ASCII vs. IPA chart (.pdf)
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