In dictionaries you'll often see a pronunciation guide next to words like (bakery would be beɪkəri). Are there different standards of these pronunciation guides? Also, where can I learn how to understand the pronunciation guide?


1 Answer 1


The pronunciation is normally given using the International Phonetic Alphabet, but some other pronunciation guides are also used. For English, it is used also the Pronunciation respelling for English; other languages will adopt a similar system that is specific for the language, differently from the IPA that can be used for any languages.

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    +1, but I would add that most dictionaries don't actually use the IPA, at least here in the US. Instead, they tend to use a version of pronunciation respelling, with additional disambiguating marks. Aug 16, 2010 at 16:58
  • Wow, I had no idea that every dictionary has its own... I had assumed there were some main ones everyone used, but that 2nd link looks like there are at least 17 different ones... though many share a lot with each other. Guess I'll try to learn IPA and just look up anything else in the specific dictionary's guide.
    – Dan
    Aug 16, 2010 at 17:56
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    @JSBangs—you are correct about that being the case for U.S. dictionaries. British dictionaries almost universally use IPA these days, as does the Australian Macquarie Dictionary. I'm not familiar with any other major English dialects with their own general-purpose dictionaries.
    – nohat
    Aug 16, 2010 at 19:02
  • The dictionary used on the Mac OS X gives me the possibility to use IPA, or not. That doesn't count, though, as it is an application.
    – apaderno
    Aug 16, 2010 at 19:40
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    @nohat, I sure wish the US dictionary makers would get with the program and switch to IPA. Aug 16, 2010 at 19:53

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