Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Pronunciation

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Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
The IPA is gibberish and I can't read it. Why doesn't Wikipedia use a normal pronunciation key?
The IPA is the international standard for phonetic transcription, and therefore the Wikipedia standard as well. Many non-American and/or EFL-oriented dictionaries and pedagogical texts have adopted the IPA, and as a result, it is far less confusing for many people around the world than any alternative. It may be confusing in some aspects to some English speakers, but that is precisely because it is conceived with an international point of view. The sound of y in "yes" is spelled /j/ in the IPA, and this was chosen from German and several other languages which spell this sound j.

For English words, Wikipedia does use a "normal" pronunciation key. It is Help:Pronunciation respelling key, and may be used in addition to the IPA, enclosed in the {{respell}} template. See the opening sentences of Azerbaijan, Cochineal, and Lepidoptera for a few examples. But even this is not without problems; for example, cum laude would be respelled kuum-LOW-day, but this could easily be misread as koom-LOH-day. English orthography is simply too inconsistent in regard to its correspondence to pronunciation, and therefore a completely intuitive respelling system is infeasible. This is why our respelling system must be used merely to augment the IPA, not to replace it.

Wikipedia deals with a vast number of topics from foreign languages, and many of these languages contain sounds that do not exist in English. In these cases, a respelling would be entirely inadequate. See Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Pronunciation for further discussion.
The IPA should be specific to a particular national standard, and the national pronunciations should be listed separately.
Listing multiple national pronunciations after every Wikipedia entry word quickly becomes unwieldy, and listing only one leads to accusations of bias. Therefore, we use a system that aims at being pan-dialectal. Of course, if a particular dialect or local pronunciation is relevant to the topic, it may be listed in addition to the wider pronunciation, using {{IPA-all}} or {{IPA-endia}}.
The use of /r/ for the rhotic consonant is inaccurate. It should be /ɹ/ instead.
The English rhotic is pronounced in a wide variety of ways in accents of English around the world, and the goal of our diaphonemic system is to cover as many of them as possible. Moreover, where there is no phonological contrast to possibly cause confusion, using a more typographically recognizable letter for a sound represented by another symbol in the narrow IPA is totally within the confines of the IPA's principles (IPA Handbook, pp. 27–8). In fact, /r/ is arguably the more traditional IPA notation; not only is it used by most if not all dictionaries, but also in Le Maître Phonétique, the predecessor to the Journal of the IPA, which was written entirely in phonetic transcription, ⟨r⟩ was the norm for the English rhotic. No modern dictionary uses ⟨ɹ⟩ either.
WikiProject Manual of Style
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Show tooltips for all IPA characters instead of useless "Help:IPA/<foreign language>"?Edit

There is currently a tooltip system that allows for hovering over IPA letters to get an example pronunciation of the IPA symbol with an English word -- but only if the word was originally from English. The vast majority of the time that you need pronunciation assistance though, it's when the word is from a foreign language!

Can we change this so that ALL the IPA pronunciations show the English example word tooltips when you mouse over each character instead of showing the useless tooltip "Help:IPA/<foreign language>"? I think this would be a major improvement for usability of IPA on Wikipedia.

Unfortunately, I am not well-versed enough in the plumbing of Wikipedia templates to figure out how to make this technical change myself. I would appreciate it if someone else could make this change. (talk) 01:36, 6 May 2019 (UTC)

I don't see what you mean. Useful to which user group? I mean, what does a useful tooltip for the IPA symbol [ʕ] look like? "voiced pharyngeal fricative or approximant"? Or maybe "the consonant in the middle of the Arabic given name Sa‘id"? (BTW, I am only fluent in half a dozen languages, so not all the language examples are of use to me. But I'm fine with articulatory descriptions of sounds, so I'd opt for that.) Love —LiliCharlie (talk) 04:30, 6 May 2019 (UTC)
I think I understand what the anon is asking for and we shouldn't use English examples for non-English words, even when a foreign word has close approximations to English sounds. I suspect that having a phonetic descriptor like "voiced pharyngeal fricative or approximant" would have limited utility. — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 21:05, 6 May 2019 (UTC)
The French Wikipedia has a module that essentially achieves this, but I think it seriously misrepresents what the IPA is and we shouldn't have one here (nor there). When we write [ʁ] linking to Help:IPA/French, we do not mean a voiced uvular fricative but the phoneme /r/ of French that can have any realization, be it a voiced uvular fricative, a voiceless velar fricative, a uvular trill, an alveolar trill, or what have you. As the second clause of the current Principles of the IPA succinctly states, each IPA character is a shorthand for a phonetic value that can have vastly differing degrees of specificity and meaning. Nardog (talk) 21:21, 6 May 2019 (UTC)
I'm the previous anon replying again (sorry for delay in response -- was stuck on cellphone tethering for internet for the past week, and Wikipedia apparently HATES T-Mobile). Useful to which user group? Useful to non-experts who know English trying to find out what something is in the first place! (i.e. the primary audience of the English language Wikipedia.) If you see a term and don't know what it is, looking it up on Wikipedia is the natural first thing to do for a great many people! It would be really helpful if looking up the term also allowed the reader to find out how to pronounce it. The pronunciations *are* given for many words, but most readers of Wikipedia -- myself included -- are not fluent in reading IPA. For English language words, tooltips are given that are very, very helpful for quickly finding out what an unfamiliar IPA symbol means. Even though I've already memorized some of the symbols through repetition, there are inevitably symbols I've forgotten, and I have to go consult a table to find the symbol I don't know then go back to the pronunciation then usually go back to the table and so on and so forth... instead of just mousing over the ones I don't know and getting an example. What I'd like is an English language example *wherever it is possible*. If [ə] shows up in a foreign word, for example, there is no reason it couldn't tell the reader that it is pronounced like the "a" in "above" (which is what is used on Help:IPA). This is already done for English words, just not foreign words -- where you most commonly need pronunciation assistance! (The other common case where you really need pronunciation assistance, of course, is for names.) For symbols where there is no good way to give an English word with the sound (like your [ʕ] example), a tooltip with an explanation similar to what's on Help:IPA and/or an example from a foreign language like the Sa'id explanation would be best, I think. (Perhaps for that one, "A light sound deep in the throat. Does not occur in English. The consonant in the middle of the Arabic given name Sa‘id." would be good -- though that might be a bit long.) It might take a while to come up with good, concise tips for sounds that have no equivalent in English, but there are already explanations that could be used as a starting point on Help:IPA. To give a real-world example, I was looking at the entry for Spaghetti aglio e olio and trying to decipher the pronunciation [spaˈɡetti ˈaʎʎo e ˈɔːljo] before I made my request here. If you mouse over it, it annoyingly gives "Help:IPA/Italian" instead of examples for symbols like ʎ which I had forgotten. If you look at the help page, ʎ shows an example indicating that it is like the "lli" in the middle of the English word "billion" -- and pretty much every IPA example for Italian *does* have an English equivalent there. For cases like that, there's no reason a tooltip with the example couldn't be shown -- it's just that no one has implemented it yet. I would greatly appreciate it if someone could implement this, and I think it really would help a lot of people out, not just me. (talk) 02:47, 13 May 2019 (UTC)

CfD on categories for pages including recorded pronunciationsEdit

There is a discussion on categories named "Pages including recorded pronunciations" or "Articles...", which editors here may be interested in. Nardog (talk) 17:48, 27 January 2020 (UTC)

Return to the project page "Manual of Style/Pronunciation".