3.10. IPA For English Speakers

There are many dialects of English, thus making it difficult to define the standardized symbols of the IPA in terms useful to every reader. All the symbols used in this chapter are repeated here, in more or less alphabetical order, with examples drawn from General American. In addition, some attention is given to the Received Pronunciation of (British) English. These two dialects are referred to as GA and RP respectively. Speakers of other dialects should consult a book on phonetics or their local television sets.

[ˈ] An IPA indicator of primary stress; the syllable which follows [ˈ] receives primary stress.
[ʔ] The usual realization of Lojban . in connected speech. This sound is not usually considered part of English. It is the catch in your throat that sometimes occurs prior to the beginning of a word (and sometimes a syllable) which starts with a vowel. In some dialects, like Cockney and some kinds of American English, it is used between vowels instead of t: bottle [boʔl̩]. The English interjection uh-oh! almost always has it between the syllables.
[ː] A symbol indicating that the previous vowel is to be spoken for a longer time than usual. Lojban vowels can be pronounced long in order to make a greater contrast with buffer vowels.
[a] The preferred pronunciation of Lojban a. This sound doesn't occur in GA, but sounds somewhat like the ar of park, as spoken in RP or New England American. It is pronounced further forward in the mouth than [ɑ].
[ɑ] An allowed variant of Lojban a. The a of GA father. The sound [a] is preferred because GA speakers often relax an unstressed [ɑ] into a schwa [ə], as in the usual pronunciations of about and sofa. Because schwa is a distinct vowel in Lojban, English speakers must either learn to avoid this shift or to use [a] instead: the Lojban word for sofa is sfofa, pronounced [sfofa] or [sfofɑ] but never [sfofə] which would be the non-word sfofy.
[æ] Not a Lojban sound. The a of English cat.
[b] The preferred pronunciation of Lojban b. As in English boy, sober, or job.
[β] An allowed variant of Lojban v. Not an English sound; the Spanish b or v between vowels. This sound should not be used for Lojban b.
[d] The preferred pronunciation of Lojban d. As in English dog, soda, or mad.
[ɛ] The preferred pronunciation of Lojban e. The e of English met.
[e] An allowed variant of Lojban e. This sound is not found in English, but is the Spanish e, or the tense «e» of Italian. The vowel of English say is similar except for the off-glide: you can learn to make this sound by holding your tongue steady while saying the first part of the English vowel.
[ə] The preferred pronunciation of Lojban y. As in the a of English sofa or about. Schwa is generally unstressed in Lojban, as it is in English. It is a totally relaxed sound made with the tongue in the middle of the mouth.
[f] The preferred pronunciation of Lojban f. As in fee, loafer, or chef.
[ɸ] An allowed variant of Lojban f. Not an English sound; the Japanese f sound.
[g] The preferred pronunciation of Lojban g. As in English go, eagle, or dog.
[h] The preferred pronunciation of the Lojban apostrophe sound. As in English aha or the second "h" in oh, hello.
[i] The preferred pronunciation of Lojban i. Essentially like the English vowel of pizza or machine, although the English vowel is sometimes pronounced with an off-glide, which should not be present in Lojban.
[ɪ] A possible Lojban buffer vowel. The i of English bit.
[ɨ] A possible Lojban buffer vowel. The u of just in some varieties of GA, those which make the word sound more or less like jist. Also Russian «y» as in «byt'» (to be); like a schwa [ə], but higher in the mouth.
[j] Used in Lojban diphthongs beginning or ending with i. Like the y in English yard or say.
[k] The preferred pronunciation of Lojban k. As in English kill, token, or flak.
[l] The preferred pronunciation of Lojban l. As in English low, nylon, or excel.
[l̩] The syllabic version of Lojban l, as in English bottle or middle.
[m] The preferred pronunciation of Lojban m. As in English me, humor, or ham.
[m̩] The syllabic version of Lojban m. As in English catch 'em or bottom.
[n] The preferred pronunciation of Lojban n. As in English no, honor, or son.
[n̩] The syllabic version of Lojban n. As in English button.
[ŋ] An allowed variant of Lojban n, especially in cmevla and before g or k. As in English sing or singer (but not finger or danger).
[ŋ̍] An allowed variant of Lojban syllabic n, especially in cmevla.
[o] The preferred pronunciation of Lojban o. As in the French « haute (cuisine) » or Spanish como. There is no exact English equivalent of this sound. The nearest GA equivalent is the o of goal or lore, but it is essential that the off-glide (a [w]-like sound) at the end of the vowel is not pronounced when speaking Lojban. The RP sound in these words is [əw] in IPA terms, and has no [o] in it at all; unless you can speak with a Scots, Irish, or American accent, you may have trouble with this sound.
[ɔ] An allowed variant of Lojban o, especially before r. This sound is a shortened form of the aw in GA dawn (for those people who don't pronounce dawn and Don alike; if you do, you may have trouble with this sound). In RP, but not GA, it is the o of hot.
[p] The preferred pronunciation of Lojban p. As in English pay, super, or up.
[r] One version of Lojban r. Not an English sound. The Spanish rr and the Scots r, a tongue-tip trill.
[ɹ] One version of Lojban r. As in GA right, baron, or car.
[ɾ] One version of Lojban r. In GA, appears as a variant of t or d in the words metal and medal respectively. A tongue-tip tap.
[ʀ] One version of Lojban r. Not an English sound. The French or German « r » in « reine » or rot respectively. A uvular trill.
[r̩], [ɹ̩], [ɾ̩], [ʀ̩] Syllabic versions of the above. [ɹ̩] appears in the GA (but not RP) pronunciation of bird.
[s] The preferred pronunciation of Lojban s. As in English so, basin, or yes.
[ʃ] The preferred pronunciation of Lojban c. The sh of English ship, ashen, or dish.
[ʂ] An allowed variant of Lojban c. Not an English sound. The Hindi retroflex s with dot below, or Klingon S.
[t] The preferred pronunciation of Lojban t. As in English tea, later, or not. It is important to avoid the GA habit of pronouncing the t between vowels as [d] or [ɾ].
[θ] Not normally a Lojban sound, but a possible variant of Lojban ' . The th of English thin (but not then).
[v] The preferred pronunciation of Lojban v. As in English voice, savor, or live.
[w] Used in Lojban diphthongs beginning or ending with u. Like the w in English wet [wɛt] or cow [kɑw].
[x] The preferred pronunciation of Lojban x. Not normally an English sound, but used in some pronunciations of loch and Bach; gh in Scots might and night. The German Ach-Laut. To pronounce [x], force air through your throat without vibrating your vocal chords; there should be lots of scrape.
[ʏ] A possible Lojban buffer vowel. Not an English sound: the ü of German hübsch.
[z] The preferred pronunciation of Lojban z. As in English zoo, hazard, or fizz.
[ʒ] The preferred pronunciation of Lojban j. The si of English vision, or the consonant at the end of GA garage.
[ʐ] An allowed variant of Lojban j. Not an English sound. The voiced version of [ʂ].