for Phonetic Sounds


IPA — representation for International Phonetic Alphabet


The IPA scheme provides a means for representing phonetic information based on the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). This representation is a Humdrum adaptation of the ASCII transliteration scheme for IPA developed by Evan Kirshenbaum. The IPA representation permits the encoding of the basic phonetic constituents of spoken or sung utterances for several languages.

Two types of data tokens are distinguished in IPA: phonetic segments and silences.

Spans of silence are represented by the percent sign (%) appearing as an isolated token.

Phonetic segment tokens typically encode syllables or single-syllable words. Each syllable consists of one or more successive phonemes, where each phoneme is signified by a single character with an optional modifier. The beginning of the token may include one of three stress indicators. A stressed syllable is signified by the apostrophe ('). A less stressed syllable is signified by the comma (,). The absence of either the apostrophe or the comma indicates an unstressed syllable.

In the case of tonally inflected languages (such as all Chinese dialects), numbers may follow indicating the type of tonal inflection. For example, in Mandarin, the number 1 indicates a high tone, the number 2 indicates a rising tone, the number 3 indicates a falling-rising tone, and the number 4 indicates a falling tone.

Individual phonemes are represented according to the signifiers listed in the table given below. For example, the upper-case letter `A' signifies the `aw' vowel as in the standard American pronunciation of l\o’a\(ul'\o’w\(ul', c\o’o\(ul’t and b\o’o\(ul’ther. Any vowel or diphthong signifier can be modified by the subsequent presence of a tilde; the modified vowel is pronounced with open nasal passages — as in the French "un bon vin blanc," which is encoded as:


**IPA W~ bo~ va~ blA~ *- ———

In the case of consonants, two modifiers are possible. Any consonant signifier that is followed by a semicolon indicates that the front of the tongue is positioned as at the beginning of the word yacht. Any consonant signifier that is followed by a dash indicates that the consonant and the preceding schwa (see below) are pronounced as an independent syllable — as in the case of the words batt\o’l\(ul'\o’e\(ul', mitt\o’e\(ul'\o’n\(ul' and eat\o’e\(ul'\o’n\(ul'.


It is recommended that files containing predominantly IPA data should be given names with the distinguishing `.ipa' extension.


The following table summarizes the IPA mappings of signifiers and signifieds. (§ All footnotes appear at the end of this table.)

@ schwa§ as in (unaccented) b\o’a\(ul’nan\o’a\(ul', c\o’o\(ul’llide, \o’a\(ul’lone
V (IPA symbol: \(an); as in h\o’u\(ul’t or h\o’u\(ul’mdr\o’u\(ul’m
R R\(dd; as in b\o’u\(ul’rn, op\o’e\(ul'\o’r\(ul’ation, d\o’i\(ul'\o’r\(ul’t, \o’u\(ul'\o’r\(ul’gent
& short a (IPA symbol: \(ae); as in m\o’a\(ul’t, m\o’a\(ul’p, m\o’a\(ul’d, g\o’a\(ul’g, sn\o’a\(ul’p, p\o’a\(ul’tch
A \o’a\(..' (IPA symbol: a); as in b\o’o\(ul’ther, c\o’o\(ul’t, and, with most American speakers, f\o’a\(ul’ther, c\o’a\(ul’rt
a \o’a\(de'; f\o’a\(ul’ther as pronounced by speakers who do not rhyme it with bother.
E short e (IPA symbol: \(*e or E); as in g\o’e\(ul’t, b\o’e\(ul’d, p\o’e\(ul’ck, \o’e\(ul’dge
i long e (IPA symbol: \o’i'); as in b\o’e\(ul'\o’a\(ul’t, gr\o’e\(ul'\o’e\(ul’d, \o’e\(ul’venl\o’y\(ul', \o’e\(ul'\o’a\(ul’s\o’y\(ul'
I short i (IPA symbol: I or \(*i); as in t\o’i\(ul’p, ban\o’i\(ul’sh, act\o’i\(ul’ve
O \o’o\(de' (IPA symbol: backward `c'); as in l\o’a\(ul'\o’w\(ul', \o’a\(ul’ll, sh\o’a\(ul'\o’w\(ul’m
W oe digraph (IPA symbol: \(oe); as in the French b\o’o\(ul'\o’e\(ul'\o’u\(ul’f, German H\o’o\(..\(ul’lle
o \o’o/' digraph; as in the French b\o’o\(ul'\o’e\(ul'\o’u\(ul’fs, d\o’e\(ul'\o’u\(ul’x, German fl\o’o\(..\(ul’te
u \o’u\(..'; as in r\o’u\(ul’le, y\o’o\(ul'\o’u\(ul’th, f\o’e\(ul'\o’w\(ul', \o’o\(ul'\o’o\(ul’ze
H \o’u\(..' (IPA symbol: upside & backwards `h'); as in French n\o’u\(ul’ance, l\o’u\(ul’i
U \o’u\(de' (IPA symbol: \(*u or U or \(*w); as in p\o’u\(ul’ll, w\o’o\(ul'\o’o\(ul’d, b\o’o\(ul'\o’o\(ul’k
y ue; as in the German f\o’u\(..\(ul’hren, \o'U\(..\(ul’bung
Y UE; as in the German Gl\o’u\(..\(ul’ck, klavierst\o’u\(..\(ul’ck
vowel~ following a vowel* indicates a vowel or diphthong pronounced wit hopen nasal passages; as in the French "un bon vin blanc" (W~ bo~ va~ blA~)
b b; as in \o’b\(ul’a\o’b\(ul’y, ca\o’b\(ul’in, ro\o’b\(ul'
d d; as in \o’d\(ul’ee\o’d\(ul', \o’d\(ul’ulcimer, a\o’dd\(ul’er
f f; as in \o’f\(ul’eel, cu\o’f\(ul'\o’f\(ul', \o’f\(ul’orte
g g; as in \o’g\(ul’o, ba\o’g\(ul', \o’g\(ul’ift
h h; as in \o’h\(ul’ear, a\o’h\(ul’ead, \o’h\(ul’orn
k k; as in \o’c\(ul’oo\o’k\(ul', ta\o’k\(ul'\o’e\(ul', a\o’c\(ul'\o’h\(ul'\o’e\(ul'
x K (IPA symbol: \o’x\(ul'); as in the German i\o’c\(ul'\o’h\(ul', Ba\o’c\(ul'\o’h\(ul'
C as in the German i\o’c\(ul'\o’h\(ul', trauri\o’g\(ul'
l l; as in \o’l\(ul’ibretto, \o’l\(ul’i\o’l\(ul’y, poo\o’l\(ul'
L gl (IPA symbol lambda); as in the Italian passaca\o’g\(ul'\o’l\(ul’ia, a\o’g\(ul'\o’l\(ul’io
m m; as in \o’m\(ul’usic, li\o’m\(ul'\o’b\(ul', ny\o’m\(ul’ph
n n; as in i\o’n\(ul’o, \o’n\(ul’strument, ow\o’n\(ul'
N eng (IPA symbol: `n' with a tail); as in si\o’n\(ul'\o’g\(ul', fi\o’n\(ul'\o’g\(ul’er, i\o’n\(ul’k
J enya; as in the Italian Lasa\o’g\(ul'\o’n\(ul’e, French a\o’g\(ul'\o’n\(ul’eau, Dordo\o’g\(ul'\o’n\(ul’e
p p; as in \o’p\(ul’iano, bee\o’p\(ul’er, li\o’p\(ul'
r r; as in \o’r\(ul’eed, o\o’r\(ul’gan, ca\o’r\(ul'
s s; as in \o’s\(ul’eek, \o’s\(ul’our\o’c\(ul'\o’e\(ul', ba\o’s\(ul'\o’s\(ul'
S sh ["esh"] (IPA symbol: \o'\(It\(Im\(Ib'); as in \o’s\(ul'\o’h\(ul’y, cre\o’s\(ul'\o’c\(ul’endo, spe\o’c\(ul'\o’i\(ul’al
t t; as in \o’t\(ul’empo, \o’t\(ul’ie, a\o’t\(ul'\o’t\(ul’acca
T th ["theta"] (IPA symbol: \(*h); as in \o’t\(ul'\o’h\(ul’in, pa\o’t\(ul'\o’h\(ul', e\o’t\(ul'\o’h\(ul’er
D \o’t\(ul'\o’h\(ul' ["eth"] (IPA symbol: \o’d~') as in \o’t\(ul'\o’h\(ul’en, ei\o’t\(ul'\o’h\(ul’er, smoo\o’t\(ul'\o’h\(ul'
v v; as in \o’v\(ul’oice, \o’v\(ul’i\o’v\(ul’id, li\o’v\(ul'\o’e\(ul'
w w; as in \o’w\(ul’e, a\o’w\(ul’ay
j j; as in \o’y\(ul’es, \o’y\(ul’oung, c\o’u\(ul’e, on\o’i\(ul'\o’o\(ul’n
z z; as in \o’z\(ul’one, rai\o’s\(ul'\o’e\(ul', \o’x\(ul’ylophone
Z zh ["yogh"\(sc]; as in mea\o’s\(ul’ure, vi\o’s\(ul'\o’i\(ul’on, a\o’z\(ul’ure
consonant- following a consonant (l-, n-, m-, or N-)** indicates a consonant preceded by a schwa that is pronounced as an independent syllable; as in batt\o’l\(ul'\o’e\(ul',
  mitt\o’e\(ul'\o’n\(ul', eat\o’e\(ul'\o’n\(ul'\fR
consonant; following a consonant,§§ indicates that the front of the tongue is
  positioned as in the beginning of the word `yard'
\' primary stress (should precede stressed sound)
, secondary stress (should precede stressed sound)
\% silence signifier

Summary of IPA Signifiers

  • The IPA schwa is notated as an upside-down `e'.
  • The IPA symbol consists of a schwa with a hook.
  • The IPA yogh is written like a flat-topped number `3' that has been lowered in height.
  • In IPA such vowels are marked by the presence of a tilde above the vowel.
  • In IPA such consonants are marked by the presence of a vertical bar below the consonant.
  • The IPA symbol consists of a superscript letter `j' either following or hooked beneath the consonant.


Sample syllables and their corresponding IPA encodings are given below:

**text **IPA
book bUk
sing sIN
tag t&g
now nAU
loud lAUd
out AUt
site saIt
side saId
buy baI
job dZAb
gem dZEm
edge EdZ
join dZOin
judge dZ\@dZ
day deI
fade feId
date deIt
cape keIp
youth juT
few fju
mute mjut
cue kju
cure kjUr
coin kOin
troy trOi
bone boUn
know noU
beau boU
chin tSIn
*- *-

The following example encodes a sentence as might be spoken by American and British speakers.

**text **IPA **IPA
* *American *British
I aI aI
hear hir hiV
the D@ DI
sec- 'sEk 'sEk
-re- rI r\^
-ta- ,t& tri
-ry ri .
*- *- *-


The following Humdrum commands accept IPA encoded data as inputs:

formant identifies first two formant frequencies for common vowels


The following tandem interpretations can be used in conjunction with IPA:

instrument *I
instrument class *IC
meter signatures *M6/8
tempo *MM96.3

Tandem interpretations for IPA


formant (4)


The International Phonetic Alphabet itself is not well suited to the representation of clicks commonly found in African languages, and this limitation is evident in the IPA representation. A more precise phonetic representation also developed by Evan Kirshenbaum might be adapted as the basis for a more refined Humdrum representation.


This representation is a Humdrum adaptation of the ASCII transliteration scheme for IPA developed by Evan Kirshenbaum.