Using words below as example:

team /tiːm/
head /ˈhed/
eat  /ēt/

The common syllable ea sound cannot always be pronounced consistently the same sound in English language. It differs per word. That's why there are e.g. tiːm , ˈhed or ēt coming along side in place to help us learn how to pronounce a word. In this question I call them helper spelling because I do not know how to call them.

How to call such a word, e.g. tiːm, ˈhed, ēt?

To help express my question: team is a word and what is tiːm?

How to call such a syllable, e.g. ə, i:, ē?

To help express my question: ea is a vowel sound and what is ?

I want to find a list of such syllables e.g. ə, i:, ē so that I know how to pronounce a new word which I've never heard before e.g.

  Write          Read
  consistent     kənˈsistənt
  confluence    ˈkänˌflo͞oəns

I do understand that Google Translate can help you read words but it cannot give you knowledge related to above questions and I would to gain that knowledge.


This is called phonetic spelling or phonetic orthography. The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) provides a standard set of symbols, and is probably what you're looking for.

  1. "Team" is a word, while "ti:m" is the phonetic spelling of the word. Phonetic spellings have a unique symbol for each unique sound a human can make, and spell words based on their sounds irrespective of their original language. Wikipedia has a great article on all the different sounds and symbols. There are also different phonetic alphabets. Google, for example, uses the NOAD phonetic alphabet, which can be seen here.

  2. Without knowing where you acquired the phonetic spellings, I can't show you the pronunciation guide for that specific alphabet, but the second link above should help. When you look up "team" on Google, it provides the phonetic spelling "/tēm/", which you can use the guide in my second link to understand how to sound out the word.

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