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link={{{imglink}}} This is a Wiktionary policy, guideline or common practices page. This is a draft proposal. It is unofficial, and it is unknown whether it is widely accepted by Wiktionary editors.

Entries in the English Wiktionary may contain a Pronunciation section to indicate phonetic and phonological details of the headword.


Phonetics and phonologyEdit

Most of the differences in the pronunciation across dialects are phonetic rather than phonemic in nature. Phonetic details indicate the physical sounds of the headword. Phonetic transcriptions are given within square brackets and are often for a particular dialect, indicated by an accent tag (e.g. {{a|US}}, {{a|UK}}, {{a|RP}}, {{a|Australia}}, {{a|Canada}}, {{a|Ireland}}).

The IPA symbols listed in w:IPA chart for English dialects are often used for phonetic transcriptions in English entries. Examples for free, pin, and better follow:

By contrast, phonemic transcriptions, given within slashes, indicate the sounds of the headword in a mostly dialect-neutral way using phonemes for a particular language. Phonemically, the most significant accent groups are rhotic and non-rhotic. Most English terms have only one phonemic transcription. For example, the standard US pronunciation of law usually has a short [ɑ] sound while the standard UK pronunciation nearly always has a long [ɔː] sound, but neither dialect distinguishes phonemically between long [ɔː] or [ɑː] and short [ɔ] or [ɑ], and US [ɑ] is a predictable reflex of UK [ɔː]. So, the only phonemic transcription given is /lɔː/, optionally supplemented by phonetic transcriptions to show details of regional variation like vowel length.

Where it is necessary to illustrate a phonemic distinction between accents, the following accent tags can be used to clarify the major variation of English to which a phonemic transcription applies:

  • {{a|rhotic}}: In rhotic accents of English, written ⟨r⟩ is pronounced in all positions as /ɹ/.
  • {{a|non-rhotic}}: In non-rhotic accents of English, [ɹ] does not appear in the syllable coda, as in the word better, but is typically pronounced if it is followed by a vowel sound. Thus, it may or may not be pronounced at the end of a word, depending on context, so final ⟨r⟩ in non-rhotic accents is also transcribed phonemically as /ɹ/: better /ˈbɛt.əɹ/. However, in a word like bird, the orthographic ⟨r⟩ can never be followed by a vowel and is never pronounced, and so is not transcribed.
  • {{a|bad-lad-split}}: In Australian English and some varieties of British English, there is a phonemic distinction between the long /æː/ of terms like bad and the short /æ/ of terms like lad.
  • {{a|bad-lad-merger}} (actually, the lack of a split): In most varieties of English, there is no phonemic distinction between short [æ] and long [æː]. The phoneme for standard English is always given as /æ/.

In the examples below for free, pin, and better, detailed sound qualities that are not important distinctions within English are ignored. However, a distinction is drawn between rhotic and non-rhotic pronunciations in a word like bird, as described above:

In phonemic transcriptions, it is important to choose from a consistent set of IPA symbols, such as those listed at w:Help:IPA/English, in order to avoid making unintended claims about what sounds are phonemically contrastive in English. If there is any doubt about whether a particular sound is phonemically contrastive in English or in any particular dialect, it is best to use phonetic transcription, given in square brackets.

Section layout and templatesEdit

A typical pronunciation section begins with ===Pronunciation=== and may look like the following example based on the word portmanteau:

* {{a|rhotic}} {{IPA|/pɔɹtˈmæntəʊ/|lang=en}}
* {{a|non-rhotic}} {{IPA|/pɔːtˈmæntəʊ/|lang=en}}
* {{a|UK}} {{IPA|[pɔːtˈmantəʊ]|lang=en}}
* {{a|US}} {{IPA|[pɔɹtˈmæntoʊ]|lang=en}}
* {{audio|en-us-Portmanteau.ogg|Audio (US)|lang=en}}

The region or accent [(UK), (US), (General Australian), et al.] is first if there is regional variation, followed by the pronunciation system (such as IPA or enPR), a colon, then the pronunciation; the templates {{a}} and {{IPA}}, and {{enPR}} do this automatically.

Phonemic transcriptions are placed between diagonal strokes (/.../), while phonetic transcriptions are placed between square brackets ([...]); these must be done manually within the template, since the templates can be used both for phonemic and for phonetic transcriptions. enPR pronunciations should not have diagonals or brackets, as their purpose is to be simple, and further, enPR is a phonemic system, so diagonals are redundant and brackets incorrect.

Pronunciations should be given in the order: enPR, IPA; enPR is often given only for the US pronunciation, as such systems are more common in the US than in the UK.

Ad hoc transcriptionEdit

While there is a natural bias in favour of established systems of pronunciation, it is not wrong to use an arbitrary representation if that’s all you know and there is an important point to be made. For the word reject, one could have /RE-ject/ and /re-JECT/ to make the important distinction between the pronunciations of the noun and verb forms. It may not be standard, but neither is it wrong. Whenever possible, however, such ad hoc pronunciations should be replaced with one in an unambiguous system, such as IPA.

Ideally, every entry should have a pronunciation section, and perhaps a sound sample to accompany it. However, pronunciations vary widely between dialects, and non-linguists often have trouble writing down pronunciations properly. UK English pronunciations should give the Received Pronunciation of the entry.

Request pronunciationEdit

You can use the template {{rfp}} to request a pronunciation in a Wiktionary entry.

Additional itemsEdit


As per Rhymes:English and w:Rhyme#Rhyme in English, "Two words are rhymes if:

  • they are stressed on the same syllable, counting from the end of the words, and
  • are pronounced identically from the vowel in their stressed syllable to the end."

Add a link to the page in the "Rhymes" namespace that lists the rhymes for the word. Do not list the rhymes themselves on the page you are editing. So, for example, on the entry for hat, add the line

* {{rhymes|æt}}

to the entry. This links to the page Rhymes:English/æt and displays the text:

The {{rhymes}} template saves you some typing and makes the IPA display correctly. This template also accepts an optional argument to specify the language for non-English rhymes. See Template talk:rhymes for documentation and use instructions.


List any homophones of the word in alphabetical order, wikifying each one. For example, the Pronunciation section of the English word right contains the line

* Homophones: [[rite]], [[wright]], [[write]]

which results in

which are the English words that sound identical to right.

If a word is a homophone in a particular dialect of English, it may be added provided the dialect is referred to (for example, medal is a homophone of metal in accents with flapping, and beater is a homophone of beta in non-rhotic accents). Examples (for beater and medal, respectively):

The following must not be added to the homophones section:

  • Words that are “nearly” homophones or rhymes (for example, for right, the words white or light);
  • Words that are homophones if they are mispronounced in some way (eg, for miss, the word myth when pronounced with a lisp);
  • Foreign words. These are unlikely to be true homophones (eg, Italian tipi (types) is not a homophone of English tepee; the sounds of the vowels and consonants are similar but different).

(Note that the term used here is homophone; the term homonym used by some is ambiguous as it can mean either "homophone" or "homograph".)

Homophones templateEdit

A template for homophones has been drafted. See template talk:homophones. A vote for implementing the homophones template ended on 1/2/2009 with "no conclusion". Objections revolve around cases where there is a qualification (eg, "rhotic accents"). If you are interested in the homophones template, you are encouraged to develop a proposal that addresses the objections and initiate a discussion. The draft of the homophones template:

* {{homophones|rite|wright|write|lang=en}}

results in

The following are examples of the template with accents, which effected the "no conclusion" vote. New proposals should address the handling of these qualifiers. See WT:V for comments on improvements.


Hyphenation describes how a word is broken across line breaks. It is a question of typography, of formatting printed or screen display of a word for aesthetic reasons. Hyphenation is not always the same in the United States and the United Kingdom (see hyphenation algorithm); British hyphenation more often considers word etymologies, whereas American English hyphenation more often follows syllabification. Unless there are peculiarities with multi-word terms, hyphenation should only be shown on single-word entries.

Hyphenation is distinct from syllabification, which is how a word is broken into spoken syllables, although these two issues are often conflated. Hyphenation is a property of written words, but syllabification is a property of spoken words. Although both properties break words into portions, the placement of the breaks is not always at the same location. For example, when the word inexorably is broken for hyphenation, it is broken in any one of the following places indicated: in·ex·o·ra·bly. When the same word is spoken, it is broken at every place indicated in the pronunciation: /ɪˈnɛks.ər.ə.bli/. Notice also that, in many words, the syllable breaks do not occur in the same location as the hyphenation breaks.

In Wiktionary, both syllabification and hyphenation are listed in the pronunciation section. List hyphenation using the template {{hyphenation}}. For example, on the entry for measure, the line:

* {{hyphenation|mea|sure|lang=en}}


  • Hyphenation: mea‧sure

Audio filesEdit

  • Listening to audio files
    For help listening to Wiktionary audio, go to w:Wikipedia:Media_help_(Ogg).
  • Requesting an audio file
    If an entry does not have an audio file demonstrating the pronunciation, you have two choices for requesting one. Option 1: You may request that a file be added at Wiktionary:Pronunciation file requests (shortcut: WT:APR). Option 2: You may add the template {{rfap}} in the Pronunciation section of an article. This will automatically handle it.
  • Uploading an audio file
    Help:Audio pronunciations describes the process step-by-step.

Resource linksEdit


for EnglishEdit

for other languagesEdit

See alsoEdit