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On Sunday 24 March 2002 01:08 pm, Neo wrote:
>         Could anyone tell me what X-Sampa and IPA is? I mean I KNOW what
> it IS, but like could someone tell me how to use it or learn them? Links
> appreciated and so is personal help :) Expect to hear more questions
> from me lol.

        Hmm...David (Durand), can you set up the mailing list so that when new
subscribers sign on, they get a brief little FAQ as well? This would be
really handy, seeing as this is the second time in a week that this question
has come up. I would be willing to write it, if other people would tell me
what should be in it.

        First, the IPA. The IPA is the International Phonetic Alphabet. It is a way
to represent sounds without resorting to nasty digraphs (like English "th",
which really represents two sounds that are found in "think" and "then") or
obtuse descriptions ("The Russian 'bI' is like the "i" in "kill" but the
middle and back part of the tongue are higher and farther back.") The IPA is
not perfect, but it's the best thing we got, and once you learn it (and you
_will_ learn it if you stay on the list long enough) you won't accept
anything less.
        The "home page" for the IPA is (it
might be down at the moment, I was unable to reach it). However, you'll find
that there are a lot of signs that you have no clue about, and want to learn
their pronunciation. For that, go to,
which has mp3 files of the sounds. Just click on the letter you want to hear.
        Ok. So that's the IPA. Now, as you will no doubt notice, there are a lot of
symbols that can't be represented with conventional 7-bit ASCII. That's where
X-SAMPA comes in. Its web page is and basically requires you
to know the IPA. Be aware that there are actually several different schemes
for 7-bit IPA, which is documented at, which helpfully includes the IPA
character in question. For instance, the biggest variance you will see on the
list is using /&/ instead of /{/ for the ash-ligature (the vowel found in
"cat"). This is fine, since it is a common occurence. If you do use a
character outside of its normal understanding in X-SAMPA, however, it is a
good idea to say so, in order to avoid confusion.
        Hope that gets you started,
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Comment: For info see