When using IPA, I am aware that <.> (full stop) represents a syllable break.

However, I have also read that a <-> (hyphen) can also be used? Is this correct? If so, is it simply a matter of personal preference, or is one considered better or more appropriate than the other? Also, what kind of hyphen is it (is it an em dash, regular hypen, etc?)

Thanks for your help!

  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is more suited at languagelearning.stackexchange.com.
    – JJJ
    Commented Aug 13, 2018 at 11:12
  • There is only one kind of hyphen: the hyphen. There are two common kinds of dashes: the en dash and the em dash. Commented Aug 13, 2018 at 17:02
  • 1
    @Jason Not quite true. There are several types of hyphen: the hyphen, the soft hyphen, and the non-breaking hyphen. When they appear on the page, they all look identical, but they are different hyphens with different uses. Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 10:00

1 Answer 1


The hyphen is not part of the officially defined IPA, so it's not "correct" IPA if by that you mean "in accordance with the official IPA chart and handbook".

The IPA shares symbols with many other transcription systems; e.g. "Americanist" phonetic transcription, which uses signs like š and č, as well as a host of dictionary-specific transcription systems. Any particular publication's choice of transcription system is largely a matter of personal preference.

As Jason Bassford said, dashes are not a type of hyphen. I've never seen dashes used to separate syllables.

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