The IPA was first published in 1888 by the Association Phonétique Internationale (International Phonetic Association), a group of French language teachers founded by Paul Passy. The aim of the organization developed with the intention of enabling students and linguists to learn and record the pronunciation of languages accurately, thereby avoiding the confusion of inconsistent, conventional spellings and a multitude of individual transcription systems. One aim of the IPA was to provide a unique symbol for each distinctive sound in a language—that is, every sound, or phoneme, that serves to distinguish one word from another.. IPA Source is the largest collection of literal translations and International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) transcriptions on the web. The goal of IPA Source is to promote the comprehension and accurate pronunciation of foreign language texts in art song and opera in order that the singer may imbue each syllable with the appropriate emotional content. IPA Source offers works in Latin, Italian, German, and French and plans to include more “singing” languages in the future. The database currently includes over 5500texts.
PA primarily uses Roman characters; other letters are borrowed from different scripts (e.g., Greek) and are modified to conform to Roman style. Diacritics are used for fine distinctions in sounds and to show nasalization of vowels, length, stress, and tones. The concept of IPA was first broached by Otto Jespersen in a letter to Paul Passy of the International Phonetic Association and was developed by A.J. Ellis, Henry Sweet, Daniel Jones, and Passy in the late 19th century. The IPA can be used for broad and narrow transcription. For example, in English, there is only one t sound distinguished by native speakers. Therefore, only one symbol is needed in a broad transcription to indicate every t sound. If there is a need to transcribe narrowly in English, diacritic marks can be added to indicate that the t’s in “tap,” “pat,” and “stem” differ slightly in pronunciation.
A phonetic script for English created in 1847 by Isaac Pitman and Henry Ellis was used as a model for the IPA. The International Phonetic Alphabet has not had the overwhelming success that its designers intended, and it is used less commonly in America than in Europe. Despite its acknowledged failings as a universal system for phonetic transcription, it is more widely employed than any other. One of its principal disadvantages when used in printing and typing is its utilization of a large number of special symbols in addition to the letters of the Roman alphabet that constitute its core. Modifications and substitutions are often made for reasons of economy and convenience. Uses
•The IPA is used in dictionaries to indicate the pronunciation of words. •The IPA has often been used as a basis for creating new writing systems for previously unwritten languages. •The IPA is used in some foreign language textbooks and phrase books to transcribe the sounds of languages which are written with non-Latin alphabets. Non-native speakers of English when learning to speak English also use it.
“International Phonetic Alphabet.” Britannica Concise Encyclopedia. Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2009. Credo Reference. Web. 22 January 2013. “International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA).” A Dictionary of Sociolinguistics. Edinburg: Edinburgh University Press, 2004. Credo Reference. Web. 22 January 2013. “International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA).” The Macmillan Encyclopedia. Basingstoke: Macmillan Publishers Ltd, 2003. Credo Reference. Web. 22 January 2013.