The Fonetiks family of websites

A Phonetic Alphabet for Keyboards

We needed a practical phonetic alphabet for use with a standard computer keyboard to annotate large numbers of words for our English pronouncing dictionary at howjsay. These phonetic annotations were needed as an aid during recording sessions.

Our need was for a phonetic transcription method that was fast, concise, and flexible so that it could be extended as needed where finer distinctions between sounds were required, but 'collapsed' where these finer distinctions were not required.

To increase typing speeds, upper case symbols were mostly avoided and the commonest items were assigned to easy-to-reach keys. New symbols are being added as the need arises, but so far (June 2007) this is what we have:

 

Symbol

Sound as in…

Vowel sounds   a
aa
a;
e
e;
i
i;
o
o;
0
^
u
u;
u;;
`
`;
`;;
h
w
y
e/
sat, bat
sad, bad
hard, father
set, wealth
air, where
sit, faces
seat, receive
cot, watch
caught, ought
(numeral zero) coat, phone
cut, mother
put, foot
boot, food
German 'über', French 'tu'
about, problem
bird, her
French 'jeu', German 'schön'
her, Ohio
well (shorter than 'put')
yell (shorter than 'seat'
café [Eg kafe/]

- Other vowel sounds are made by combining the above.

Consonantal sounds





























Stress

 

b
k
ch
d
f
g
j
kh
j;
l
l;
m
n
ng
n;
p
kw
r
r.
r;
s
sh
t
th
dh
v
x
z
!

', '', '''

bone
cat, speak
church
done
fish, phone
golf
judge, region
loch, German 'ich'
leisure, French 'je'
lamp
little (to denote 'dark l')
my
no
sing
French 'on'
pay
queen
rain
Italian 'ravioli' (trilled)
French 'roi'
so
show
toe
thin
this
vowel
excite
zebra, needs
Cockney 'butter' = 'b^!` (Glottal stop)

/'ing''k^rij/, /'ane;''r0bik/

A sample transcription

ai  h0p  yu;  wil  `'gri;  dh`t  dhis  iz  `  fa;st,  'i;zi  `nd  kn'sais  wei  
t`  tra;ns'kraib  saundz  'yu;zing  `n  'o;dnri  km'pyu;t`  'ki;bo;d.

Note that distinctions are not made unless they are needed in a given context, just as vowels are omitted in written Arabic where a distinction between them is not needed. So /i/ becomes /i;/ only where the transcriber perceives a need to make the distinction. The font is up to you. I have used Garamond here. /tl/ and /dl/ denote lateral plosion; /tn/ and /dn/ denote nasal plosion.

 

Tim Bowyer
Abu Dhabi, June 2007


Copyright 2000-2009  Tim Bowyer.  All  rights  reserved.  Comments, suggestions