For instance, if we use [,æmplɪfɪ'keɪʃən] [,æmpləfə'keʃən] to indicate how to read "amplification", the practice is called phonetic notation or phonetic transcription, and the symbol is called International Phonetic Alphabet.

My questions are

1) How shall I describe the following practice: "amplification is read as am-pluh-fi-key-shun" Is there a name for the kind of phonetic notation?

2) what's the difference between [IPA] and [this kind of phonetic notation (am-pluh-fi-key-shun for amplification)] in terms of the degree of formality and/or which one is more commonly used?

3)Is it unanimous to use, for intance, -uh- for [ə] in this kind of notation? Maybe other people would write it as am-pli-fi-ki-shion or anything else?

  • It's not IPA, so drop that. Look for more clues on what the kind of pronunciation amplification (pron.: am-pluh-fi-key-shun) is called. Let us know what you found. – Kris Feb 23 '18 at 10:41
  • Question 3) is not difficult to find. "pronunciation of ipa symbols" yields this as the first result. – Mr Lister Feb 23 '18 at 10:45

This kind of pronunciation help is called a pronunciation respelling. Unlike IPA, it’s not actually a transliteration as such, since it doesn’t use one system of writing to represent something from a different system of writing: it uses the same system of writing to (attempt to) resolve ambiguities within that system itself.

The advantage of a pronunciation respelling is that the system is immediately familiar to anyone familiar with the language, since it uses the language’s own orthography as basis. The disadvantage, especially in a language like English, is that it is less precise and more likely to be ambiguous than a true phonetic transliteration which, as oerkelens points out, is language-agnostic and based on the acoustic/enunciatory details of each individual sound.

Wikipedia has a very useful article on pronunciation respellings for English, which has a tabular overview of some of the standardised respelling systems that are or have been commonly used for English.

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The IPA is the same for all languages and dialects. The kind of semi-phonetic transliteration you propose is very much dependant on language and dialect. For example, most English speakers would pronounce your key as [kɪ:] instead of [keɪ].

That means that if you want to use such a transcription system, your correspondence table would have to be different for every audience you want to address, depending on how they would "naturally" pronounce the letters you choose. In practice, this is messy and leads to misunderstandings (I would pronounce the word amplification wrong based on your transcription, for instance.)

By the way, where you mention alphabets, I'm pretty sure you mean letters. An alphabet is a full collection of letters that are used to write a language (or several languages), e.g. the modern Greek alphabet consists of 24 letters.

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    Essentially a helpful commentary. – Kris Feb 23 '18 at 10:36
  • The syllables used are invariably those that are familiar to everyone so they may aid in easy understanding of the pronunciation by comparison. – Kris Feb 23 '18 at 10:38
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    You neglect to mention that the IPA, while the same for every language, is not something most people know by heart. But writing the word like "am-pluh-fi-key-shun" would make it instantly recognisable for anyone who knows English. Not to mention the difficulties in writing IPA with a normal keyboard. – Mr Lister Feb 23 '18 at 10:39
  • So your suggestion for the name is “semi-phonetic translation”? – dasliit Feb 23 '18 at 11:45
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    Essentially a helpful commentary = Doesn't answer the question. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 23 '18 at 12:10

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