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Is the use of phonetic symbols to provide an accurate and permanent record of the pronunciation of speech sounds in languages of the world.

The most widely used system for phonetic transcription was developed by the International Phonetic Association from 1886 onwards. It consists of 79 symbols for the phonetic transcription of consonants. In addition it has 28 symbols for vowels. In addition, there are dedicated symbols for the transcription of tone and intonation.

This website provides several tools to learn to identify speech sounds of the world's languages and the phonetic symbols representing them.


The files below are freely downloadable ...

On IPA notation

Official IPA chart

Extended IPA chart

IPA writing


Writing Paper Image.png

Paper to help you size your phonetic symbols. Download the IPA writing paper pdf above


The most recent version of the IPA has 79 symbols for the phonetic transcription of consonants. The biggest set consists of 69 symbols which represent pulmonic consonants: these are powered by a pulmonic egressive airstream mechanism. In the classic IPA chart below the consonant are ordered in cells resulting from the intersection of rows and columns: the rows represent the different 'manners' of articulation, while the columns represent the different 'places' of articulation. The manners of articulation are ordered from the more constricted articulations (upper rows) to the more open articulations (lower rows). The places of articulation are arranged from left (anterior) to right (posterior).

Phonetic symbols of the IPA

The non-pulmonic consonants are pronounced on a laryngeal airstream mechanism (implosives & ejectives) or a lingual airstream mechanism (clicks).

Although the chart suggests that implosives can only be voiced, but voiceless implosives do occur. Curiously, the IPA does not have separate symbols for voiceless implosives. Nevertheless, they do occur contrastively with voiced implosives and voiced pulmonic plosives in languages such as Seereer-Siin in Senegal, and Lendu and Ngiti in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Although in the spirit of the IPA principles, their phonetic contrastiveness would merit separate symbols, currently these sounds are represented by adding a voiceless diacritic to the corresponding symbols for voiced implosives.


while the back vowels appear to the right. Most of the vowel symbols are plotted in pairs: the left symbol of each pair represents the unrounded vowel, while the right symbol refers to the rounded vowel.

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