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I wanted to improve my English pronunciation. But I just realize that I cannot understand the symbols in my English dictionaries (including some online dictionaries). There are so many, just look at this table.

My first question is for my general culture. Why are there so many? And which system is used the most?

My second question concerning a website teaching the pronunciation: http://pronuncian.com/sounds
Do you know a dictionary (including online dictionary) using the same phonetic symbols?

closed as too broad by Helmar, Scott, curiousdannii, Chenmunka, jimm101 Oct 10 '16 at 11:59

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • Well because each dictionary was competing against each other to be sold and when their systems were first devised there was no universal system, each dictionary pretty much had its own system. However nowadays the I.P.A. system is a universally recognised method of pronouncing words in any language. While this is not used in most paper dictionaries, any online dictionary worth its salt gives an I.P.A. pronunciation for each word. – BladorthinTheGrey Sep 3 '16 at 21:56
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    There are different systems for representing American and British English, because they are pronounced differently. The American English phonemic system is presented in Kenyon and Knott, which is available online free. The chart you point to in the question is of no value; ignore it. Just learn a little phonetics. – John Lawler Sep 3 '16 at 23:10
  • After the response of John Lawler, I recognized that John's list has 14 vowels and the site pronuncian.com/sounds have 15 vowels. A quick search on the Internet reveals that the number of vowels can go up to 20. It's unbelievable. That means people in some regions (or countries) can distinguish the language better than people in other regions, although the first ones maybe aren't native speakers. – NN2 Sep 4 '16 at 0:11
  • Come back to the website pronuncian.com/sounds , I don't know this website is good for improving American English pronunciations. I have a doubt just because the number of vowels of this page (15 vowels) is different the number in John's list (14 vowels). Could you please tell me if I can continue to use this website? Thank you in advance. – NN2 Sep 4 '16 at 0:13
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    It means that some regions use more vowels than other regions. For example, cot and caught are pronounced exactly the same in California, but have different vowels in New York and in England. And in much of England, bared, beard, bed and bid are distinguished by having four different vowels, while in most of the U.S., the difference between bared and bed is that bared has an /r/. – Peter Shor Sep 4 '16 at 0:30