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The tables below show how the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) represents Old English pronunciations in Wikipedia articles. Old English or Anglo-Saxon was an early form of English spoken in medieval England. It is different from Early Modern English, the language of Shakespeare and the King James Bible.

See Old English phonology for more detail on the sounds of Old English.

Consonants[1]
IPA Examples Modern English approximation
b bysiġ, lamb, habban busy
ç niht, tǣhte[2] hue
d dōn, fæder, land, biddan do
senġan, eċġ[3] edge
ð ōþer, eorþe[4] other
f fæder, wīf, offrian[4] father
ɡ gōd, gnætt, ġeong[3] good
h hēah, hǣlþ[2] heaven
j ġeong, næġl, weġ[3] year
k cyning, cnǣw, tusc, hnecca, axian[3][5] king
l lufu, hǣlþ, næġl love
ɫ feallan, eald, wlite[6] peal
hlāf, hlehhan[7] similar to clap
m mōdor, magan, lamb mother
n nēah, cnēo, gnætt, land, habban,
sunne
near
hnutu, hnecca[7] similar to snort
ŋ ġeong, drincan young
p pæþ path
r rǣdan, mōdor[8] read
eorþe, steorra, wrang[6][8]
hring[7] similar to trap
s sunne, missan, axian[4][5] sun
ʃ eadu, fi[3] shadow
t tīd, hwæt, settan tide
ċēace, wiċċe[3] cheese
v ofer, lufu[4] over
ɣ magan, lagu similar to Baghdad (Arabic)
w wīf, cwic, cnǣw wife
ʍ hwā, hwæt[7] what (Scottish English)
x hēah, þurh, hlehhan[2] loch (Scottish English)
z bys[4] busy
θ þæt, pæþ, hǣlþ, siþþan[4] through
Vowels[9]
IPA Examples Modern English approximation
ɑ axian, sċeadu, hnecca[10] cot (American English)
ɑː ān, hlāf, hwā father
æ æfter, fæder cat
æː ǣniġ, hǣ similar to there
æɑ eald similar to Cockney mouth
æːɑ ēaġe, nēah similar to pal
e eċġ, fæder similar to late
ēþel similar to made
eo eorþe, heofon bed + rod
eːo ēowu, dēor bay + lot
i ilca, cwic, hāliġ quick
īsiġ, tīd need
iy siex[11] sit + bed
iːy nīehst[11] need + bed
o ofer, sċeolde, heofon[10] rod
ōþer, mōdor mode
u under, ġeong, lufu[10] root
ūt mood
y scyld, yfel as in French 'tu'
fȳr as in French 'tu', but longer

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Old English had geminate (double) consonants, pronounced longer than single ones. They were written with double consonant letters. The double consonants in ⟨habban, missan⟩ can be transcribed with the length symbol ⟨ː⟩ or by doubling the consonant symbol: [ˈhɑbːɑn ˈmisːɑn] or [ˈhɑbbɑn ˈmissɑn]. The doubled affricate in ⟨wiċċe⟩ should be transcribed as [ˈwittʃe] or [ˈwitːʃe], with the stop portion of the affricate doubled.
  2. ^ a b c The phoneme /h/ had three allophones whose behavior diverged completely in the later language: it was [h] word-initially; [ç] when single and following a front vowel; and [x] elsewhere.
  3. ^ a b c d e f ċ ċġ sċ⟩ with a dot above represent the postalveolar sibilants /tʃ dʒ ʃ/. The letter ⟨ġ⟩ represents the palatal approximant /j/ in most cases, but /dʒ/ after ⟨n⟩. /tʃ ʃ/ developed from /k sk/ by palatalization in Anglo-Frisian, but /dʒ j/ developed partly from Proto-Germanic *j and partly from palatalization of /g/. In this help page and in some modern texts, the palatal and postalveolar consonants are marked with a dot above the letter, but in manuscripts they were written as ⟨c g sc⟩, and were thus not distinguished from the velars [k g ɣ] and the cluster [sk].
  4. ^ a b c d e f s f ð þ⟩ represented voiceless fricatives /s f θ/ at the beginning and end of words, and when doubled, but voiced fricatives /z v ð/ when single between voiced sounds.
  5. ^ a b In Old English, as in Modern English, ⟨x⟩ represents the cluster /ks/.
  6. ^ a b /r/ and /l/ probably had velarized allophones [rˠ] and [ɫ] when preceding a consonant and when geminated. The initial clusters written ⟨wr⟩ and ⟨wl⟩ are also thought to represent these sounds, in which case the distinction was phonemic.
  7. ^ a b c d The sonorants /r l n w/ had voiceless versions [l̥ r̥ n̥ ʍ], which developed from the consonant clusters [xl xr xn xw].
  8. ^ a b The exact nature of the rhotic /r/ is not known. It may have been a trill [r], a tap [ɾ], or—as in most forms of Modern English—an approximant [ɹ] or [ɻ].
  9. ^ Old English had a distinction between long and short vowels in stressed syllables. Long monophthongs are marked by placing the length symbol ⟨ː⟩ after the vowel symbol, and long diphthongs are marked by placing this symbol after the first vowel symbol. In unstressed syllables, only three vowels, /ɑ, e, u/, were distinguished, but /e, u/ were pronounced i, o in certain words.
  10. ^ a b c Sometimes after the palatalized consonants ⟨ċ ġ sċ⟩, ⟨eo⟩ represents /u/ or /o/ and ⟨ea⟩ represents /ɑ/.
  11. ^ a b The diphthongs ⟨ie īe⟩ occurred in West Saxon. They may have been pronounced /ie iːe/ or /iy iːy/.