Help:Pronunciation respelling key

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.

Respelled syllables are visually separated by hyphens ("-"), and 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 because the difference is automatic. In words where primary stress precedes secondary stress, however, the secondary stress should not be differentiated from unstressed syllables; for example, "motorcycle" () should be respelled as MOH-tər-sy-kəl because MOH-tər-SY-kəl would incorrectly suggest the pronunciation .

As designated in Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Pronunciation, the standard set of symbols used to show the pronunciation of English words on Wikipedia is the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). The IPA has significant advantages over this respelling system, as it can be used to accurately represent pronunciations from any language in the world, and (being an international standard) is often more familiar to European/Commonwealth and non-native speakers of English. On the other hand, the IPA (being designed to represent sounds from any language in the world) is not as intuitive for those chiefly familiar with English orthography, for whom this respelling system is likely to be easier for English words and names. So, while the IPA is the required form of representing pronunciation, respelling remains optional. It should not be used for representing non-English words or an approximation thereof.

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, 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, soul, and touch), 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.