Help:Pronunciation respelling key

The following pronunciation respelling key is used in some Wikipedia articles to respell the pronunciations of English words. It does not use special symbols or diacritics apart from the schwa (ə), which is used for the first sound in the word "about".

Both the IPA and respelling for English on Wikipedia are designed to record all distinctive sounds found in major varieties of English. That is, we record differences found in some varieties but not in others, such as those between "father" and "farther", "wine" and "whine", and "cot" and "caught". This does not mean these differences are, or must be, always distinguished; if you speak a dialect that does not distinguish "father" and "farther", for example, simply ignore the difference between FAH-dhər and FAR-dhər.

For a more thorough discussion of the sounds and dialectal variation, see Help:IPA/English.

Syllables are separated by hyphens ("-"). The stress on a syllable is indicated by capital letters. For example, the word "pronunciation" () is respelled prə-NUN-see-AY-shən. In this example, the primary and secondary stress are not distinguished, as the difference is automatic. In words where primary stress precedes secondary stress, however, the secondary stress should not be differentiated from unstressed syllables, because to respell "motorcycle" (), for example, as MOH-tər-SY-kəl instead of MOH-tər-sy-kəl would incorrectly suggest the pronunciation .

Respelling should also be avoided when a respelled syllable would be the same as an existing word that is pronounced differently. "Maui" respelled as MOW-ee, "metonymy" as meh-TON-im-ee, and "cobalt" as KOH-bolt are susceptible to being misinterpreted as , , and , because of the words "mow", "ton", and "bolt", so only IPA should be provided for such words, if any.

Particularly, respelling /aʊ/ could prove problematic as there are a variety of monosyllabic words spelled with "ow" and pronounced with /oʊ/: blow, blown, bow, bowl, flow, flown, glow, grow, grown, growth, growths, low, mow, mown, own, row, show, slow, snow, sow, sown, stow, strow, throw, tow, and trow. There is no universal solution to this problem ("ou" also varies as in loud, soup, and soul), so respelling a word including /aʊ/ may be best avoided altogether; however, sometimes the benefit of respelling may outweigh the disadvantage, especially for longer words, so exercise discretion.