See more History of the International Phonetic Alphabet articles on AOD.

Powered by
Share this page on
Article provided by Wikipedia

( => ( => ( => History of the International Phonetic Alphabet [pageid] => 2138147 ) =>

The "International Phonetic Alphabet was created soon after the "International Phonetic Association was established in the late 19th century. It was intended as an international system of phonetic transcription for "oral languages, originally for pedagogical purposes. The association was established in "Paris in 1886 by French and British language teachers led by "Paul Passy. The first published alphabet appears in Passy (1888). The association based their alphabet upon the "Romic alphabet of "Henry Sweet, which in turn was based on the "Phonotypic Alphabet of "Isaac Pitman and Palæotype of "Alexander John Ellis.[1]

The alphabet has undergone a number of revisions during its history, though the 1932 version was used for over half a century with only minor adjustments until the "IPA Kiel Convention of 1989, after which again only minor adjustments were made.

The "extIPA for speech disorders was created in 1990, and, while a few minor changes were made since then, the first major revision was devised in 2015 and approved in 2016.[2]


Dhi Fonètik Tîtcerz' Asóciécon[edit]

The International Phonetic Association was founded in Paris in 1886 under the name Dhi Fonètik Tîtcerz' Asóciécon (The Phonetic Teachers' Association), a development of L'Association Phonétique des Professeurs d'Anglais (The English Teachers' Phonetic Association), to create an international phonetic alphabet primarily for English, French, and German. Many of the symbols derived from Sweet's Revised Romic alphabet.

Draft of 1887[edit]

Originally the symbols had different phonetic values from language to language. For example, ⟨c⟩ transcribed both English and French ch. However, over time it was decided to restrict each symbol to a single pronunciation. In 1887, the first draft of this standardized alphabet, adequate for English, French, and German, was published, as follows:

  "Blab. "Ldent. "Dent. "Alv. "Palv. "Pal. "Velar "Uvular "Glot.
"Plosive p b     t d     k g   ʼ  
"Nasal m     n   ɴ    
"Lateral       l   ʎ      
"Rhotic       r       ʀ  
"Semivowel w ɥ       j      
"Fricative   f v θ ð s z c ʒ ç   x q   h  
"Front "Central "Back
"Close i • y       u
"Close-mid e • ɶ       o
"Open-mid ɛ • œ       ɔ
"Open a  

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

Diacritics and suprasegmentals[edit]

The earliest set of "diacritics to the IPA were described as follows:

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

Declaration of purpose[edit]

By September 1888, a set of six policy statements had been formulated by the International Phonetic Association which would govern all future development of the alphabet. They were:

  1. Each sign should have its own distinctive sound.
  2. The same sign should be used for the same sound across all languages.
  3. As many ordinary "Roman letters should be used as possible, and the usage of new letters should be minimal.
  4. International usage should decide the sound of each sign.
  5. The look of the new letters should suggest the sound that they represent.
  6. "Diacritics should be avoided when possible, as they are difficult to write and hard to see.

Aside from these six guidelines, the association encouraged "phonemic-style transcription and for contributors to transcribe their own style of speaking their own language.

Several of the new letters were created by turning ordinary Roman "sorts upside-down when typesetting: ⟨ʎ ɥ ə ɔ⟩. (More would be added later.) This was a convenient way to create new symbols without having to cast special IPA type, an expensive proposition for small printers.[3]

1900 expansion[edit]

1905 chart (split for image quality). The "bronchials" were pharyngeals.[4]
The IPA chart published in the 1912 edition of The principles of the International Phonetic Association. A couple labialized consonants and a tap have been added, the pharyngeals and ⟨ɒ⟩ have been dropped, and the chart has been reversed to its modern orientation.

During the 1890s, the alphabet was expanded to cover sounds of Arabic and other non-European languages which did not easily fit the Latin alphabet. These additions were published together in 1900, along with a few revisions, such as ⟨ɲ⟩ and ⟨ŋ⟩ for ⟨ɴ⟩, and ⟨ʃ⟩ for ⟨c⟩, which was reassigned. For the first time the glyphs were organized into a chart according to their articulation. Vowels and consonants were placed in a single chart, reflecting how sounds ranged in openness from stops (top) to open vowels (bottom).

Chart from 1908[5]
  Glottal Epiglottal Uvular Velar Palatal Lingual Labial
CONSONNES Plosives  
ˀ q ɢ k ɡ c ɟ t d p b
    ŋ ɲ n m
    ɫ ʎ l  
ᴙ ʀ     r  
Fricatives ʜ Q h ɦ ᴚ ʁ (ʍ w) x ǥ (ɥ)  ç j ʃ ʒ
s z
θ ð
f v ꜰ ʋ
 ʍ w ɥ



      u   ɯ    ü       ï    y   i

  ʊ                  ʏ   ɪ
  o      ö   ë   ø   e
      ɔ ʌ   ɔ̈ ä   œ ɛ
         ɐ      æ
          ɑ        a

  (u ü y)

(o ö ø)

(ɔ ɔ̈ œ)

As of 1908:

"Tense and lax vowels were distinguished with an acute vs grave accent, so English ⟨fíːt fìtfeet, fit.

Retroflex consonants were written ⟨ṭ ḍ ṣ ṇ⟩ etc., as in Indology; this also applied to rhotic vowels, as in English ⟨ɑ̣ar. Arabic emphatic consonants were ⟨s̤ t̤⟩ etc. More or less rounded, raised, lowered, advanced, and retracted vowels were marked ⟨a˒ a˓ e˔ e˕ a ̘ a ̙⟩ etc.; the diacritic would not move under the letter for some time yet, and the latter two would later be coopted for "advanced and retracted tongue root.

ɑ̃ ɛː r̬ r̥ kʼ ŭ n̩⟩ etc. had their modern values, though ejective affricates were written ⟨tʼs⟩, and voiceless ('whispered') vowels were ⟨u̦ i̦⟩ etc. As today, a superscript letter indicated a partial quality, as in ⟨ʃˢ⟩. This was extended to ⟨pᵇ tᵈ kᶢ⟩ etc. for "tenuis consonants, if plain ⟨p t k⟩ would be understood to be aspirated. Palatal [s] was written ⟨sⁱ⟩, as the ⟨ʲ⟩ convention was not yet pervasive.

Tonal transcription was still provisional at this stage, and tended to vary from one language to another. Swedish "intonation" was written ⟨ˊ⟩ and ⟨ˇ⟩ before the syllable, as in the 1932 revision, and Chinese tone was marked a sloped line before the syllable, equivalent to modern "tone letters without the vertical bar, though tone letters are now written after the syllable.

1932 revision[edit]

The 1932 chart.

A second round of expansion, along with a few reassigned letter values, occurred in 1932. This was a major revision, used with little change for over half a century. Some of the changes were already adopted before the 1932 revision, for example ⟨ʋ, f⟩ were replaced by ⟨β, ɸ⟩ after the Copenhagen Phonetic Conference of 1925[6][7] which gathered many notable phoneticians of the time, including "Daniel Jones of the IPA.[8] The symbol ⟨⟩ was also replaced by ⟨χ⟩ before the 1932 revision.[9]

  Bi-labial Labio-
Dental and
"Retroflex "Palato-
Palatal Velar Uvular "Pharyngal Glottal
Plosive p b   t d ʈ ɖ     c ɟ k ɡ q ɢ   ˀ
Nasal m ɱ n ɳ     ɲ ŋ ɴ    
Lateral Fricative     ɬ ɮ                
Lateral Non-Fricative     l ɭ     ʎ        
"Rolled     r           ʀ    
"Flapped     ɾ ɽ         ʀ    
Fricative ɸ β f v θ ð s z ɹ ʂ ʐ ʃ ʒ ɕ ʑ ç ʝ x ɣ χ ʁ ħ ʕ h ɦ
"Frictionless continuants w ɥ ʋ ɹ       j (ɥ) (w) ʁ    
Front Central Back
Close (y ʉ u) i y ɨ ʉ ɯ u
(ʏ ʊ) ɪ ʏ ʊ
Half-close (ø   o) e ø ɤ o
Half-open (œ ɔ) ɛ œ ʌ ɔ
æ ɐ
Open (ɒ) ɑ ɒ

There were other sounds not found on the chart. Some of these had dedicated letters, but most were indicated with diacritics. These were, verbatim (but with added paragraph breaks for legibility),[10]

Other Sounds.—Palatalized consonants : ƫ, , etc.
Velarized or pharyngealized consonants : ɫ, , , etc.
Ejective consonants (plosives[11] with simultaneous glottal stop) : , , etc.
Implosive voiced consonants : ɓ, ɗ, etc.
ř fricative trill.
σ, ƍ (labialized θ, ð, or s, z). ƪ, ƺ (labialized ʃ, ʒ).
ʇ, ʗ, ʖ (clicks, Zulu c, q, x).
ɺ (a sound between r and l).
ʍ (voiceless w).
ɪ, ʏ, ʊ (lowered varieties of i, y, u).
ɜ (a variety of ə). ɵ (a vowel between ø and o).
Affricates are normally represented by groups of two consonants (ts, , , etc.), but, when necessary, ligatures are used (ʦ, ʧ, ʤ, etc.), or the marks  ͡    or  ͜    (t͡s or t͜s, etc.).
c, ɟ may occasionally be used in place of , .
Aspirated plosives : ph, th, etc.
Length, Stress, Pitch: : (full length). (half length).
ˈ (stress, placed at the beginning of the stressed syllable). ˌ (secondary stress).
ˉ (high level pitch) ; ˍ (low level) ; ˊ (high rising) ; ˏ (low rising) ; ˋ (high falling); ˎ (low falling) ; ˆ (rise-fall) ; ˇ (fall-rise).
Modifiers: ˜ nasality.
˳ ( breathed l). ˬ voice ( = z). ʻ slight aspiration following p, t, etc.
 ̣ specially close vowel ( = a very close e).  ̜ specially open vowel ( = a rather open e).
 ̫ labialization ( = labialized n).  ̪ dental articulation ( = dental t).  ̇ palatalization (ż = ).
˔ tongue slightly[12] raised ( or = ). ˕ tongue slightly[12] lowered ( or = ).
˒ lips more rounded. ˓ lips more spread.
Central vowels : ï (= ɨ), ü (= ʉ), ë (= ə˔), ö (= ɵ), ɛ̈, ɔ̈.
ˌ (e.g. ) syllabic consonant. ˘ consonantal vowel.
ʃˢ variety of ʃ resembling s, etc.

1938 revision[edit]

In the 1938 revision, the following was added:

  ͡    or   ͜    also indicate synchronic articulation (m͡ŋ = simultaneous m and ŋ).

ɮ⟩ was replaced by ⟨"⟩, while a compromise symbol ⟨""Lezh old.svg⟩ was also acknowledged as an alternative.[13]

1947 revision[edit]

In the 1947 revision, the following were added:

palatalized ʃ, ʒ : ʆ, ʓ [added to comment on palatalization]
and ƾ, ƻ for ts, dz. [added to comment on c, ɟ]

1951 revision[edit]

The 1951 chart.

The 1951 chart was essentially identical to that of 1932. There were a few changes in the descriptions. Apart from dropping the couple words noted above,[11][12] these were,[14]


ɼ fricative trill. [replaces ř]
ɩ, ʏ, ɷ (lowered varieties of i, y, u). [Changed from ɪ, ʏ, ʊ]
""Lezh old.svg voiced alveolar lateral fricative [rather than ]
ʔ Glottal stop. [Changed from ˀ]


ƞ Japanese syllabic nasal.
ɧ (combination of x and ʃ).
r-coloured vowels : , , ɔɹ, etc., or , , ɔʴ, etc., or , , , etc.; r-coloured ə : əɹ or əʴ or ɹ or or ɚ.

In addition, the diacritics ⟨◌̘⟩ and ⟨◌̙⟩ had been used for advanced and retracted vowels since the 1900s, but not included in IPA charts. They were now replaced by

˖ tongue advanced ( or = an advanced u, = ). ˗ or - tongue retracted ( or = ɨ˖, = alveolar t).

1973 revision[edit]

In 1973, a symbol for a retroflex approximant, ⟨ɻ⟩, was added.[15]

1976 revision[edit]

In 1976, the following changes were made:[16]

1979 revision[edit]

The 1979 chart

In 1979, the format of the chart was revamped, and there was modest change in the IPA itself.

Formatting changes[edit]

plosive, nasal, lateral fricative, lateral approximant, trill, tap/flap, fricative, approximant
nasal, plosive, fricative, approximant, lateral fricative, lateral approximant, trill, tap/flap, ejective, implosive, click, lateral click

Terminology also changed: "breathed" to "voiceless", "frictionless continuant" to "approximant", "rolled" to "trill", "flapped" to "tap or flap", "pharyngal" to "pharyngeal".

Substantive changes[edit]

1989 revision[edit]

The IPA in 1989. (Recreated from the 2005 chart. Some of the glyphs may not be accurate. The actual chart was landscape-oriented.)

A primary purpose of the Kiel Convention of 1989 was to clean up the IPA. Several sounds had long been transcribed with more than one letter, contrary to the founding principles, because agreement could not be reached on which to use. The scope of the IPA was also expanded with new letters and diacritics.

Formatting changes[edit]

plosive, nasal, trill, tap/flap, fricative, lateral fricative, approximant, lateral approximant, ejective stop, implosive

Substantive changes[edit]



Several of these had long been used, but had not been officially included in the IPA until now.


1993 revision and 1996 update[edit]

The 2005 chart. There are only minor changes from 1993.

The 1993 revision introduced these changes:

In 1996, the misformed letter ⟨ʚ⟩ (closed epsilon) was corrected to ⟨ɞ⟩ (closed reversed epsilon). A tie bar may now be placed below the symbols, as in ⟨t͜s⟩. ⟨˞⟩ was now attached to the preceding letter, as in ⟨ə˞⟩. A few illustrations in the chart were changed: ⟨⟩ was added for rhoticity, and ⟨i̠ ɹ̩⟩ were replaced with ⟨e̠ n̩⟩. The word "etc." was dropped from the list of tones, leading to confusion that the listed tone diacritics are the only ones available.

2005 revision and 2015 chart[edit]

In 2005, a single change was made: the right hook v symbol ⟨⟩ was added for the "labiodental flap.[18]

A revised version was published in 2015. No symbols were added or withdrawn, but the appearance/"glyphs of a few symbols have been very slightly changed. In particular, ⟨ə˞⟩ was changed to ⟨ɚ⟩ with a continuous, slanted stroke.[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kelly (1981).
  2. ^ Ball, Martin J.; Howard, Sara J.; Miller, Kirk (2017). "Revisions to the extIPA chart". Journal of the International Phonetic Association. "doi:10.1017/S0025100317000147. 
  3. ^ Later a couple letters would be created by filing off part of an existing sort, such as ⟨ˀ⟩ from ⟨?⟩ and ⟨ɾ⟩ from ⟨r⟩.
  4. ^ Heselwood (2013) Phonetic Transcription in Theory and Practice, p. 113
  5. ^ International Phonetic Association. (1908). Exposé des principes de l’Association phonétique internationale, p. 12. [1]
  6. ^ Passy, Paul (April–June 1927). ""(sic)" [Décisions du conseil relativement aux propositions de la conférence de Copenhague]. artiklə də fɔ̃. Le Maître Phonétique. 18: 14. (5) i desid də rɑ̃plase le siɲ , ʋ par ɸ, β. lə siɲ ʋ səra dezɔrmɛ dispɔniblə pur rəprezɑ̃te la kɔ̃sɔn labjo-dɑ̃tal nɔ̃-frikatiːv tɛl k ɛl egzistə dɑ̃ sɛrtɛn lɑ̃ːg ɛ̃djɛn e ɑ̃ hɔlɑ̃dɛ. (puːr 12, kɔ̃ːtr 2, nɔ̃ vɔtɑ̃ 2.)  [Il décide de remplacer les signes , ʋ par ɸ, β. Le signe ʋ sera désormais disponible pour représenter la consonne labio-dentale non-fricative telle qu'elle existe dans certaines langues indiennes et en hollandais. (Pour 12, contre 2, non votant 2).]
  7. ^ Kemp 2006, p. 409.
  8. ^ Phonetic Transcription and Transliteration, 1925
  9. ^ Le Maître phonétique, 14, April–June 1926
  10. ^ Daniels & Bright 1996:830
  11. ^ a b The word 'plosive' was dropped by 1951
  12. ^ a b c The word 'slightly' was dropped by 1951
  13. ^ "Wells, John (3 November 2006). "The symbol ɮ". John Wells’s phonetic blog. Department of Phonetics and Linguistics, University College London. Retrieved 1 February 2018. 
  14. ^ Brosnahan & Malmberg, 1976, Introduction to Phonetics, p 219
  15. ^ "A. C. G. (1973). "The Association's Alphabet". Journal of the International Phonetic Association. 3 (2): 60–61. "doi:10.1017/S0025100300000773. 
  16. ^ "J. C. W. (1976). "The Association's Alphabet". Journal of the International Phonetic Association. 6 (1): 2–3. "doi:10.1017/S0025100300001420. 
  17. ^ "The Association's alphabet". Journal of the International Phonetic Association. 5 (2): 52–58. 1975. "doi:10.1017/S0025100300001274. 
  18. ^ International Phonetic Association 2005:261
  19. ^ Full IPA Chart


) )