English Phonetic Alphabet

This is a way to write English text phonetically. It assigns each letter one and only one sound, to provide a clear visual pronunciation for each word. Emphasis is not represented this way; only the actual sounds.

Letters and Sounds


aah: cat, flabby
eeh: pet, spend
gg: gargoyle, get, grow
iih: fit, spin, lips
jdzh: just, wager, giblets
oah: bother, father, top
qoo: book, took, put, (pull?)
uuh: under, just, what
woo: hoot, blue, crew
xsh: shut, bush
yee: he, bleed, happy

A (hey, way)ey
I (why, hi)oy
O (ho, boat)uw
oo (book, put)q (also in pull?)
sh x
ch (cheese)tx (?)
Sounds unaccounted for

khloch (gutteral)
oblock, stock (British)
ththe, they, those (voiced "th")
ththis, thistle, thing (unvoiced "th")
[y](optional "ee" as in "news": nwz / nywz)
zh(as "s" in "pleasure")


Sum wrds or speld (th)u seym, but muwst ar not. Sevrl ar ambigewus, bekuz Ynglix adz letrs witx mey ur mey not by pruwnawnst win spuwkn. Oy havnt figyqrd awt wer tw pqt sum sawnds; (th)er or u fyw sutx sawnds listid ubuv. Some words are spelled the same, but most are not. Several are ambiguous, because English adds letters which may or may not be pronounced when spoken. I haven't figured out where to put some sounds; there are a few such sounds listed above.
Santu Clos sez "Huw huw huw! Mery Krismus!" Hy's joly.
Win wy laf, wy guw "hohoho" ur "hyhy" ur "hehe" ur "hqhqhq". Sum pypl yvin sey "hwhw".
Santa Claus says "Ho ho ho! Merry Christmas!" He's jolly.
When we laugh, we go "hahaha" or "heehee" or "hehe" or "[unspellable]". Some people even say "hoohoo".


This is not an official phonetic alphabet. It's just a custom one I have created. Look at the International Phonetic Alphabet for something more standardized. The X-SAMPA (ascii IPA) version may be a little more useful for people without full unicode ability.

In general, diphthongs and other compound sounds are expanded into their component parts, even though this may not correctly represent the emphasis or length of each component, or potential for modification by speaking with an accent.

It is not always clear whether some sounds are actually part of a word. In particular, epenthetic vowels can be ambiguous. These are vowels inserted to make a word easier to pronounce, such as the "e" in "bushes". The bold letters in "several" are another example; are they actually pronounced, or can they be left out of a phonetic spelling?

The letter H is somewhat problematic. Is it a single "breath" sound, or does it represent a set of unvoiced vowels? I treat it here as a single sound.
Last modified: November 15, 2004 @ 4:25 MST
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