Thursday, 16 December 2010

"Brit." vowel symbols in OED

Here's the list of phonetic and letter symbols and model words for General British vowels, which OED labels "Brit.":
phonetic symbol letter symbol(s) model word(s)
ɪ ih pit
ee bean
i ee happy
ɨ ih roses, business
ɛ e pet
æ a pat
ʌ uh butter
ɑː ah barn, palm
ɒ o pot
ɔː or born
ʊ uh put
oo goose
jew articulate
 ə ə another (schwa)
əː er nurse
ay bay
ʌɪ eye buy
ɔɪ oy boy
ow mouth
əʊ oh goat
ɪə ear near
ɛə air pair
ʊə oor cure, jury
ɛ~ ah fin de siècle (nasalized)*
œ eur boeuf, coeur
y yew French du
e eh French bébé
œ~ uh French un (nasalized)*
ɑ~ oh French franc (nasalized)*
ɔ~ oh bon mot (nasalized)*
* placing the tilde beside the letter symbol instead of above it will not be the definitive way to indicate nasalisation in OED. Rumour has it that changes will be made in due time to conform to IPA conventions.
The same letter symbols are used for [ʌ] and [ʊ], and <oh> represents three sounds. Who needs these letter symbols anyway - cui bono? 

credit: Oxford University Press

BTW: There's a separate OUP webpage entitled 'Key to the pronunciation'; it lists different pronunciation descriptors than the ones I display above. Mine are taken from individual dictionary articles. The former seem to be codes for printers, e.g. {lm} for 'length mark' or {shti} for 'short i' (be careful when typing this code!) or {ope} for 'open e' meaning [ɛ].

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