Tutoriel en anglais sur les caractères API (alphabet phonétique international) dans les pages web et les navigateurs. Trop fatiguée pour le faire en bilingue, désolée.

The Tensor at Tenser, said the Tensor (if I’m going to link to him or her in the future I will have to find a better naming scheme) has an enjoyable post on pseudo-IPA in advertising.

You will have to be able to view phonetic symbols in your browser. Look up to this site’s logo and check: Can you see the (phonemic) transcription of serendipity twice, big and small, in different fonts but otherwise identical? Or are there boxes or gibberish showing up in the small version? Here’s the ultra-short tutorial to get your computer IPA-ready:

  • I presume your browser is capable of displaying unicode-encoded characters. I hear that even IE4 is.
  • You need a unicode font that contains the IPA characters (and diacritics, but let’s stick to the basics). A good place to start is this gentle introduction, with links to the most widespread IPA unicode fonts.
  • Which font to choose? Doulos SIL is the quasi-standard. Arial Unicode MS and Lucida Sans Unicode come with most modern MS Windows systems, but if you have them you don’t need to read this. (I don’t have Arial; Lucida’s font design is quite original — one of the rare good sans-serif IPA fonts). Personnally, I like Junicode. Thryomanes is common on Linux systems (Debian-users: there’s an official .deb package for it, at least in SID). Very nice, but better at larger font sizes and in printed documents rather than on the Web. Gentium is gorgeous, I used it for the logo. At smaller sizes, though, Gentium looks a little delicate.
  • Installing a font is easy. In MS Win, just throw it into your fonts directory, somewhere under the Windows directory. I can’t help Macintosh users, but usually Mac OS already does everything for them anyway. Restart your browser and off you go.

There’s also this clickable chart to help you type phonetic symbols by the E-MELD project. Via phonolobog, just to name the first bead in the blogospherical link chain.

The Tensor clears up something that has long puzzled me: why some otherwise excellent online dictionaries, eg, use a way to transcribe the way a word sounds that is near-incomprehensible, at least to non-native speakers not very familiar with the sounds of English. Every (paper) dictionary I have ever consulted or owned uses IPA, with minor variations, such as whether to transcribe “pure” phonemes or lean more towards a phonetic rendering, or the accent issue (American vs British pronunciation, BBC, received pronunciation …) as in [loʊ] or [ləʊ] for low. Yes, even my trusty old Hornby (Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English — revised and updated!), which I used in high school.

4 comment(s) for 'Pseudo-phonetics'

  1. (Comment, 2004-08-12 07:53 )

    Another useful tool is the Phonemic Typewriter

  2. (Comment, 2004-08-12 18:19 )

    that’s slick, Claude. thanks!

  3. (Comment, 2004-08-12 18:55 )

    Yes, for ESL teaching, where we need phonemes in the first place and don’t want to confuse the learner, this chart is even better than a full IPA chart. Thanks Claude.

  4. (Pingback, 2006-02-09 17:49 )

    […] [ Update: I have no idea how this happened, but I’m glad it did. After posting this post, I noticed a few new incoming links to phonoloblog. One of them led me to a pingback on this post by Mark Liberman back when he announced Charwrite in August 2004 (something I had forgotten, now corrected in the post). The pingback is to this August 2004 post on Chris Waigl’s blog serendipity, which links to this clickable-chart implementation of Charwrite on LinguistList, a really useful tool which I had not seen before. A comment on that serendipity post also leads to the Phonemic Typewriter, which is more limited but still pretty good for many purposes. ] […]