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Help:Pronunciation respelling key

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This is an English pronunciation respelling key that may be used in Wikipedia articles. By using a simpler spelling of words, it helps readers of articles to learn how to pronounce (say) words that they are not familiar with.

If you have come here because a respelled pronunciation was used in an article, look at the tables below to find out how to pronounce the word.

The method is simple to understand because it does not use any special symbols except the schwa ("ə"), which represents the "uh" sound. Another way of showing how to pronounce words is to use the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). The IPA can be used to show the sounds in a word very accurately, without ambiguity, but it uses many special symbols that are not required in the 'respelling' approach.


Consonant sounds should be pronounced as shown below:

Respelling symbol Example IPA symbol(s) Notes
b but, web /b/
ch church, nature /tʃ/
d do, odd /d/
f fool, enough, leaf /f/
g go, beg /ɡ/ Not as in gem or gin (/dʒ/), which is j.
h ham, ahead /h/
j gin, joy, edge /dʒ/
k cat, kiss, queen, skin, thick /k/
l left, bell /l/
m man, ham /m/
n no, tin /n/
ng ring, singer, sink /ŋ/ Not the same as the sound in finger, which is ngg (/ŋɡ/).
ngg finger /ŋɡ/
p pen, spin, tip /p/
r run, very /r/
s see, city, pass /s/ Not as in rose (/z/), which is z.
sh she, sure, emotion, leash /ʃ/
t two, sting, bet /t/
th thing, teeth /θ/ To make this sound, the tip of the tongue is placed between the front teeth and air is blown out of the mouth gently.
th this, breathe, father /ð/ This sound is similar to th (/θ/), but a harder buzzing sound is also made from the throat.
v voice, have /v/
w we /w/
wh what /ʍ/
y yes /j/
z zoo, rose /z/
zh pleasure, vision, beige /ʒ/


Vowel sounds should be pronounced as shown below:

Respelling symbol Example IPA symbol(s) Notes
a cat /æ/ Australian /æ/ or /æː/. Scottish /a/.
aa or ah father /ɑː/
air air /ɛər/
ar car /ɑr/ Scottish /ar/.
arr marry /ær/
aw raw /ɔː/ American /ɔ/ or /ɑ/. Some people pronounce words like raw with an o sound.
ay day /eɪ/
ə sofa /ə/ or /ɨ/ Unstressed neutral vowel. Sometimes i may be used for /ɨ/.
ər her (stressed) /ɜr/ or /ɝː/ Scottish /ʌr, ɛr, ɪr/ (ur, er, ir).
ər after /ər/ or /ɚ/
e pet /ɛ/
ee feet /iː/
eer peer /ɪər/
er fern /ər/, /ɜr/ or /ɝː/ Scottish /ɛr/.
err merry /ɛr/
ew dew, ewe /juː/ American /u/ or /ju/. Some people pronounce the ew sound after some consonants, while others do not.
eye die, eye /aɪ/ This is spelled –ye after a consonant.
i bit /ɪ/
ir fir, girl /ər/, /ɜr/ or /ɝː/ Scottish /ɪr/.
irr mirror /ɪr/
o pot /ɒ/
oe or oh toe /oʊ/
oo foot /ʊ/ Scottish /ʉ/.
oo food /uː/
ohr four, wore /ɔər/ Australian /oː(ɹ)/.
or for, war /ɔr/ Scottish /ɔr/.
orr orange /ɒr/
ow cow /aʊ/
oy boy /ɔɪ/
u bus /ʌ/
ur fur /ər/, /ɜr/ or /ɝː/ American /ɹ/. Scottish /ʌr/.
urr hurry /ʌr/
–ye bye /aɪ/ This is written –ye after a consonant, but otherwise as eye.
American /aɪ/ or /ɐɪ/.

Optional sounds

When a certain sound is pronounced by some speakers but not by others, the sound is put inside parentheses (round brackets). It is correct to say the word either with or without the sound. For example, the respelled pronunciation of the word truism is "TROO-i-z(ə)m". It can either be pronounced "TROO-i-zəm" or "TROO-i-zm".

Syllables and stress

A syllable is the smallest block of sound that a person can make when he or she speaks. Words can have one or more syllables. For example, cat is a one-syllable word, tortoise (pronounced TAW-tis) has two syllables, and dinosaur (pronounced DYE-nə-saw) has three syllables. In this system of respelled pronunciation, the syllables in a word are separated by hyphens ("-").

When a word has more than one syllable, some syllables are usually given more emphasis than others when the word is spoken. In linguistics, this emphasis is called "stress". The stress in a word is shown by writing the syllable in SMALL CAPITAL LETTERS.[1]

In a long word with many syllables, different types of stress are often given to different syllables. Linguists can tell the difference between heavier "primary stress" and lighter "secondary stress". To keep things simple, this respelled pronunciation system does not show the difference between these two types of stress. Readers can usually work out for themselves where the primary and secondary stresses should be.

Respelled pronunciation IPA symbols Notes
/prəˌnʌnsiːˈeɪʃən/ There is actually primary stress on the syllable "AY" and secondary stress on "NUN", but to keep things simple the difference is not shown.

See also


  1. Wikipedia editors can create small capital letters like this: "<small>THIS SENTENCE IS IN SMALL CAPITAL LETTERS</small>".