IPA in Unicode

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The International Phonetic Alphabet can be represented in Unicode, with symbols not used in other alphabets assigned range U+0250–02AD. The following is a representation of the IPA chart encoded in Unicode.

There also exist systems for representing the information contained in IPA in ASCII, including SAMPA, Kirshenbaum and other ad hoc systems to work around the difficulty of displaying IPA on computers.

See also: Table of Unicode characters, 128 to 999, Unicode and HTML


Consonants (pulmonic)

  Labial Coronal Dorsal Radical
Blab. Ldent. Dent. Alv. Palv. Apal. Ret. Pal. Velar Uvular Phar. Epig. Glot.
Plosive [[voiceless bilabial plosive|]] [[voiced bilabial plosive|]]   [[voiceless alveolar plosive|]] [[voiced alveolar plosive|]] [[voiceless retroflex plosive|]] [[voiced retroflex plosive|]] [[voiceless palatal plosive|]] [[voiced palatal plosive|]] [[voiceless velar plosive|]] [[voiced velar plosive|]] [[voiceless uvular plosive|]] [[voiced uvular plosive|]]   [[epiglottal plosive|]]   [[glottal stop|]]  
Nasal stop [[bilabial nasal|]] [[labiodental nasal|]] [[alveolar nasal|]]      [[retroflex nasal|]] [[palatal nasal|]] [[velar nasal|]] [[uvular nasal|]]  
Trill [[bilabial trill|]]   [[alveolar trill|]]            [[uvular trill|]]   *  
Tap or Flap * * [[alveolar tap|]]      [[retroflex flap|]]         *  
Lateral Flap   [[alveolar lateral flap|]]      *        
Fricative [[voiceless bilabial fricative|]] [[voiced bilabial fricative|]] [[voiceless labiodental fricative|]] [[voiced labiodental fricative|]] [[voiceless dental fricative|]] [[voiced dental fricative|]] [[voiceless alveolar fricative|]] [[voiced alveolar fricative|]] [[voiceless postalveolar fricative|]] [[voiced postalveolar fricative|]] [[voiceless alveolo-palatal fricative|]] [[voiced alveolo-palatal fricative|]] [[voiceless retroflex fricative|]] [[voiced retroflex fricative|]] [[voiceless palatal fricative|]] [[voiced palatal fricative|]] [[voiceless velar fricative|]] [[voiced velar fricative|]] [[voiceless uvular fricative|]] [[voiced uvular fricative|]] [[voiceless pharyngeal fricative|]] [[voiced pharyngeal fricative|]] [[voiceless epiglottal fricative|]] [[voiced epiglottal fricative|]] [[voiceless glottal fricative|]] [[voiced glottal fricative|]]
Lateral Fricative * * *    
Approximant * [[labiodental approximant|]] [[alveolar approximant|]]      [[retroflex approximant|]] [[palatal approximant|]] [[velar approximant|]]  
Lateral Approximant   [[alveolar lateral approximant|]]      [[retroflex lateral approximant|]] [[palatal lateral approximant|]] [[velar lateral approximant|]]    


  • Where symbols appear in pairs (the obstruents), the one to the right represents a voiced consonant (except for breathy-voiced [[voiced glottal fricative|]]). Otherwise (the sonorants), the single symbol is voiced.
  • Shaded areas indicate articulations judged impossible.
  • Asterisks (*) mark reported sounds that do not (yet) have official IPA symbols. See the articles on the appropriate manner for ad hoc symbols found in the literature.
  • The voiced fricative symbols, especially , may be used for either voiced fricatives or approximants.
  • It is primarily the shape of the tongue rather than its position that distinguishes the fricatives , , and .
  • The labiodental nasal is not known to exist as a phoneme in any language.

Consonants (non-pulmonic)

Click releases Implosives Ejectives
[[bilabial click|]] Bilabial [[voiced bilabial implosive|]] Bilabial For example:
[[dental click|]] Laminal alveolar ("dental") [[voiced alveolar implosive|]] Alveolar [[bilabial ejective|]] Bilabial
[[postalveolar click|]] Apical (post)alveolar ("retroflex") [[voiced palatal implosive|]] Palatal [[alveolar ejective|]] Alveolar
[[palatal click|]] Laminal postalveolar ("palatal") [[voiced velar implosive|]] Velar [[velar ejective|]] Velar
[[alveolar lateral click|]] Lateral alveolar ("lateral") [[voiced uvular implosive|]] Uvular [[alveolar ejective fricative|]] Alveolar fricative


  • Clicks are doubly articulated and require two symbols: a velar or uvular stop, plus a symbol for the release: , etc.
  • Symbols for the voiceless implosives are no longer supported by the IPA. Instead, the voiced equivalent is used with a voiceless diacritic: , etc.
  • Although not reported from any language, the retroflex implosive, Template:Unicode, is supported in the Unicode Phonetic Extensions Supplement.
  • The ejective symbol is also used for glottalized but pulmonic sonorants, such as .


Front Central Back


  • Where symbols appear in pairs, the one to the right represents a rounded vowel. also represents a rounded vowel.
  • is not confirmed as a distinct phoneme in any language.

Other symbols

Symbols for consonants with double or secondary articulation

[[voiceless labial-velar fricative|]] Voiceless labial-velar approximant
[[labial-velar approximant|]] Voiced labial-velar approximant
[[labial-palatal approximant|]] Voiced labial-palatal approximant
[[voiceless dorso-palatal velar fricative|]] Voiceless "dorso-palatal" fricative


  • The nature of is disputed. See the article for discussion.

Affricates and doubly articulated stops are represented by two symbols joined by a tie bar either above or below the symbols, or optionally by a ligature for the six commonest affricates, though this is not current IPA usage:

Ligature Tie bar Description
[[voiceless alveolar affricate|]] voiceless alveolar affricate
[[voiceless postalveolar affricate|]] voiceless postalveolar affricate
[[voiceless alveolo-palatal affricate|]] voiceless alveolo-palatal affricate
[[voiced alveolar affricate|]] voiced alveolar affricate
[[voiced postalveolar affricate|]] voiced postalveolar affricate
[[voiced alveolo-palatal affricate|]] voiced alveolo-palatal affricate
 – [[voiceless labial-velar plosive|]] voiceless labial-velar plosive
 – [[voiced labial-velar plosive|]] voiced labial-velar plosive
 – [[labial-velar nasal|]] labial-velar nasal stop


  • Due to a bug in the Arial Unicode MS font, these incorrectly formed character combinations may look better in your browser: .

Extended IPA for disordered speech

[[velopharyngeal fricative|]] Velopharyngeal fricative
[[lateralized s|]] Lateralized [s]
[[lateralized z|]] Lateralized [z]
[[bilabial percussive|]] Bilabial percussive
[[bidental percussive|]] Bidental percussive
[[sublaminal lower alveolar click|]] Sublaminal lower alveolar click


Primary stress
Secondary stress
Long (long vowel or geminate consonant)
Syllable break
Minor (foot) group
Major (intonation) group
Linking (absence of a break)

Tone and intonation

Extra high
Extra low
e Downstep
e Upstep
Global rise
Global fall


  • Unicode does not have separate encodings for most of the contour tones. Instead, sequences of level tone marks are used, with proper display dependent on the font, usually by means of OpenType font rendition: or . (These are probably not displaying correctly in your browser.) Since very few fonts support such combinations of tone marks, a common solution is to use the old system of superscript numerals from '1' to '5', e.g. [e53, e312]. However, this depends on local linguistic tradition, with '5' generally being high and '1' being low for Asian languages, but '1' being high and '5' low for African languages. An old IPA convention sometimes still seen is to use sub-diacritics for low contour tones: for low-falling and low-rising.
  • The upstep and downstep diacritics are superscript arrows. Unicode currently does not have separate encodings for them.


Diacritics may be placed above a symbol with a descender, i.e.

Voiceless Breathy voiced Dental
Voiced Creaky voiced Apical
Aspirated Linguolabial Laminal
More rounded Labialized Nasalized
Less rounded Palatalized Nasal release
Advanced Velarized Lateral release
Retracted Pharyngealized No audible release
Centralized Velarized or pharyngealized
Mid-centralized Raised (' = voiced alveolar fricative)
Syllabic Lowered (' = voiced bilabial approximant)
Non-syllabic Advanced tongue root
Rhoticity Retracted Tongue Root

The state of the glottis can be finely transcribed. A series of alveolar plosives ranging from an open to a closed glottis phonation are:

(breathy voice, also called murmured)
(slack voice)
(modal voice)
(stiff voice)
(creaky voice)
(glottal closure).

Extended IPA for disordered speech.

Labial spreading   Strong articulation Denasal
Dentolabial Weak articulation Nasal escape
  Interdental/bidental   Reiterated articulation Velopharyngeal friction
Alveolar Whistled articulation Ingressive airflow
Linguolabial Slurred/sliding articulation Egressive airflow
Pre-aspiration Unaspirated Whispery
Partial voicing Initial partial voicing Final partial voicing
Partial devoicing Initial partial devoicing Final partial devoicing
Pre-voicing Post-voicing Creaky

Names of the symbols

It is often desirable to distinguish an IPA symbol from the sound it's intended to represent, since there is not a one-to-one correspondance between symbol and sound in broad transcription. The names are not official, but they've become standardized through usage.

The Letters

The traditional names of the Latin and Greek letters are used for unmodified symbols: b bee, x ex, ' capital ar, ' beta, ' epsilon, ' gamma, ' theta, ' chi, ' phi, etc. Although the typeface of the Greek letters is less cursive in IPA usage than is usual, the names don't change. Likewise, it is not necessary to specify that ' is a 'small' capital, although it is common to abbreviate the name to cap ar.

A few letters have the forms of cursive script: ' cursive a, ' cursive vee [some might call this upsilon].

Ligatures are called precisely that: ' o-e ligature, ' el-yogh ligature, although ' is frequently called by its traditional runic name ash in addition to an a-e ligature.

Many letters are turned, or rotated 180 degrees: ' turned wye, ' turned aitch, ' turned capital ar, ' turned cursive a, ' turned cee [often called open o, which describes both its articulation and its shape], ' turned vee [often called caret from its similarity to the diacritic ^].

A few letters are reversed (flipped on a vertical axis): ' reversed e, ' reversed epsilon, ' reversed glottal stop [often called by its Arabic name, ain].

One letter is inverted (flipped on a horizontal axis): ' inverted ar. (' could also be called an inverted double-u, but turned double-u is more common.)

When a horizontal stroke is added, it is called a bar: ' barred aitch, ' barred o, ' reversed barred glottal stop, ' barred dotless jay or barred gelded jay [apparently never 'turned ef'], ' double-barred pipe, etc.

One letter instead has a slash through it: ' slashed o.

The implosives have hook tops: ' hook-top bee, as does ' hook-top aitch.

Such an extension at the bottom of a letter is called a tail. It may be specified as left or right depending on which direction it turns: ' right-tail en, ' right-tail turned ar, ' left-tail en [note that ' has its own traditional name, engma], ' left-tail em, ' tail zed [or just retroflex zed], etc.

When the tail loops over itself, it's called curly: ' curly-tail jay, ' curly-tail cee.

There are also a few unique modifications: ' belted el, ' closed reversed epsilon [there was once also a ' closed omega], ' right-leg turned em, ' turned long-leg ar, ' double pipe, and the obsolete ' stretched cee.

Several non-English letters have traditional names: ' cee cedilla, ' eth (also spelled edh), ' engma, ' yogh, ' schwa, ' exclamation mark, ' pipe.

Other symbols are unique to the IPA, and have developed their own quirky names: ' fish-hook ar, ' ram's horns, ' bull's eye, ' horse-shoe u, ' esh [apparently never 'stretched ess'], ' hook-top heng.

The ' is usually called by the sound it represents, glottal stop. This is not normally a problem, because this symbol is seldom used to represent anything else. However, to specify the symbol itself, it is sometimes called a gelded question mark.

The diacritic marks

Diacritics with traditional names: ' acute, ' macron, ' grave, ' caron or circumflex, ' wedge, ' umlaut or trema, ' breve, ' (superscript) tilde, ' subscript tilde, ' superimposed tilde.

And so forth: the voicing diacritic, for example, is a subscript wedge.

Non-traditional diacritics:

' seagull, ' hook, ' over-cross, ' corner, ' bridge, ' inverted bridge, ' square, ' under-ring, ' over-ring, ' left half-ring, ' right half-ring, ' plus, ' under-bar, ' arch, ' up tack, ' down tack, ' left tack, ' right tack, ' tie bar, ' under-dot, ' under-stroke.

Diacritics are also named after their function: the bridge is also called the dental sign, etc.


The International Phonetic Association was founded in Paris in 1886 under the name Dhi Fontik Tcerz' Ascicon (The Phonetic Teachers' Association), a development of L'Association Phontique des Professeurs d'Anglais (The English Teachers' Phonetic Association), to create an international phonetic alphabet. The sources for many of the symbols was Henry Sweet's Revised Romic system, which was in turn based on Pitman and Alexander Ellis's Phonotypic Alphabet. Several of the symbols, such as and , had been used since the early 17th century.


Note: this early version of the IPA was presented as a list (with examples from European languages) instead of the now common articulatory chart used today.

  Blab. Ldent. Dent. Alv. Palv. Pal. Velar Uvular Glot.

Front Central Back


hl, lh voiceless l
u: long u
nasal a
long and narrow u
-u, u- weak stressed u
u, u, strong stressed u


Gutturales Uvulaires Vlaires Palatales Linguales Labiales
Plosives ʔ  
G k ɡ c ɟ t d p b
    ŋ ɲ n m
    ɫ ʎ l  
Q ᴙ ʀ     r  
Fricatives h H ɦ ᴚ ʁ (ʍ w) x ɡ̸ (ɥ)   j ɹ, θ , ʃ ʒ, s z,
* *
f v       F ʋ
 ʍ w   ɥ



      u   ɯ               y   i

  ᴜ                  Y   I
    o               e
      ɔ     ʌ ɔ̈        ɛ
          ɑ        a

  (u  y)

(o  )

(ɔ ɔ̈ )

* no Unicode character (?)


  Bi-labial Labio-
Dental and
Retroflex Palato-
Palatal Velar Uvular Pharyngal
Lateral Fricative                      
Lateral Non-Fricative              
Frictionless Continuants            
Front Central Back

Other sounds (to be written) pʻ ƪ ƺ ř ƫ ż = z̢ σ ƍ ọ ǫ k̫ o͆ ʓ ʆ ʇ ʖ ʗ


The 1989 version of the IPA differed from the current (1993) version in only two respects:

  • There was still only a single pair of mid central vowels, , with provided as an "additional" mid central vowel (as in 1932);
  • The voiceless implosives were recognized with their own symbols, .

See also

External links

Special characters

de:IPA in Unicode

es:Alfabeto Fontico Internacional ko:유니코드로 된 국제 음성 기호 ja:国際音声記号 ja:国際音声記号の文字一覧 sv:IPA i Unicode


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