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Wiktionary:Votes/2008-01/IPA for English r


IPA for English rEdit

  • Voting on: For the pronunciation of English terms, agreement to use the specific IPA character /ɹ/ instead of /r/ for the r phoneme in words like red, green and orange.
    Edited and deadline extended. DAVilla 17:13, 27 January 2008 (UTC)
    Initial wording: For the pronunciation of English terms, agreement to use the more specific IPA character for r, such as /ɹ/ or /ɾ/, instead of /r/ as a more general transcription. DAVilla 03:36, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
    Suggested rewording: For the pronunciation of English terms, agreement to use the more specific IPA character for r, /ɹ/ instead of /r/, as a more general transcription. DAVilla 11:49, 26 January 2008 (UTC)
  • Vote ends: 9 March 12 March 2008 24:00 UTC
  • Vote starts: 24 January 2008 0:00 UTC


  1.   Support!

    Using [r] as a replacement for the correct [ɹ] is not justifiable. It is very confusing, as the alveolar trill, [r] (represented by the letters "rr" in Spanish), doesn't even exist in English. The sound [ɹ] is the alveolar approximant, which is not the same. It can be baffling to anyone who doesn't speak English, especially a language which contains either the trill, the approximant, or both, because it implies that English does have [r], when no major dialect of English even has the sound. This may embarass someone, or get them laughed at, and we can only thank the Open Dictionary Of Wrong International Phonetic Alphabet Pronunciation (ODOWIPAP) for not learning proper phonics.

    We are supposed to be very proper, accurate, and precise with the pronunciations of words, especially in English (name any other lanuages with as complex an orthography), because of its contradictory and flawed orthography. Because of this obstruction in learning English, we should be careful with how we transcribe words (i.e., correct IPA without trivial differences like a phonemic set that is used as an excuse to justify what is improper). It is troublesome enough to learn English, let alone to be unsure about the pronunciation and have to try it anyway. If certain regionally specific pronunciations really are such a problem, then why not just signify the different regional pronunciations?

    As if there isn't enough confusion as to how words in English are pronounced, place names can be hard to find out to pronounce as well, and we should also be precise in them (not using any improper IPA, such as using the English Orthography as IPA like [e] to represent [ɛ] or [eɪ], [i] while truly meaning [ɪ] pr [aɪ], or this example, [r] while meaning to use [ɹ]. So using two different symbols to represent two different phonemes gets my Support! Ionas Freeman (自人) 04:26, 24 January 2008 (UTC)

    Please see Wiktionary:Pronunciation, which I recently edited to explain the difference between phonetic and phonemic transcription. Rod (A. Smith) 19:23, 24 January 2008 (UTC)
    So do I understand that /ər/ is supposed to mean [ɚ] for an American speaker? That seems like a hack to me, maybe a standard one, but a hack nonetheless. DAVilla 21:33, 24 January 2008 (UTC)
    Yes, most Americans pronounce /ər/ as [ɚ] or [ɚɹ] or [əɹ], depending on speaker and context. It's not a hack, but a very interesting area of linguistics. Each language has a nice, tidy little set of phonemes that yield a rich inventory of sounds, governed by context. By employing both high fidelity phonetic transcriptions and carefully planned phonemic transcriptions in each entry, we can show two complementary aspects of the headword's pronunciation: a precise physical version that linguists can read to learn the detailed sound qualities of words and a more abstract version that non-technical readers who already speak the target language can use with very little study. Rod (A. Smith) 23:53, 24 January 2008 (UTC)
  2.   What he said. Support DAVilla 06:31, 24 January 2008 (UTC)
  3.   Support Widsith 10:04, 24 January 2008 (UTC)
  4.   Support Cynewulf 10:17, 24 January 2008 (UTC) Still. Cynewulf 17:48, 27 January 2008 (UTC)
  5.   Support Atelaes 18:50, 25 January 2008 (UTC)Atelaes 18:30, 27 January 2008 (UTC)
  6.   Support Keene 12:19, 26 January 2008 (UTC) If it makes us bitches to the IPA, that's not a bad thing. I'm all for being correct.Previously stricken after rewording, unstricken on 31 Jan 2008
    I'm going to have to take back this support - I'm confused. --Keene 17:45, 27 January 2008 (UTC)
    I guess an example would have been even clearer. The pronunciation of red, for instance, would be:
    instead of IPA(key): /rɛd/, Template:X-SAMPA as it is now. The arguments for and against, on the other hand, those are tricky. Of course I'm opinionated on this, but essentially the primary argument for is that the current method could confuse the international audience, and against that the suggested change could confuse our English audience. /r/ is easier and therefore more prevalent even for most transcriptions of English. Neither is technically incorrect, although for a bracketed specific dialect like General American, [r] would be incorrect (edit:) highly misleading: IPA stipulates [ɹ] for that sound. DAVilla 18:26, 27 January 2008 (UTC)
    Well, /r/ could confuse the English-speaking audience as well, if they assume our IPA is accurate, or at least fairly consistent between languages. —RuakhTALK 19:06, 27 January 2008 (UTC)
    Yes, consistency between languages is a good way to put it. I was generalizing greatly, assuming the question wouldn't arise for English speakers like Connel who would prefer to see a character they recognize anyway. But then that's what we have enPR for, isn't it?
    By the way, has this issue come up on Wikipedia, and how did they handle it? They don't seem to give many pronunciations for English headwords, if any. DAVilla 19:28, 27 January 2008 (UTC)
    Cool, that makes sense. I re-support. Of course we should be IPA bitches. --Keene 19:55, 31 January 2008 (UTC)
  7.   Support EncycloPetey 19:02, 27 January 2008 (UTC) I am supporting the edited version of the vote. I agree with both sides that either the current approach or the suggested new approach would be technically correct under IPA rules, but prefer the use of /ɹ/ because of our international and interlingual content. --EncycloPetey 19:02, 27 January 2008 (UTC)
  8.   Supportmsh210 05:13, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
  9.   Support — Beobach972 17:02, 28 January 2008 (UTC) It seems that the deadline for voting has passed (or has it?), but I'll still note that I support this proposal. — Beobach972 17:02, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
    No, this is a very new vote still. DAVilla 22:56, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
  10.   Support — [ ric ] opiaterein — 02:03, 1 February 2008 (UTC) Use the right symbols! :)
  11.   Support Conrad.Irwin 20:51, 1 February 2008 (UTC) From hours of discussion (on wikt and IRC) it seems that this is (if only slightly) more correct.
  12.   Support Neskaya talk 06:55, 3 February 2008 (UTC)
  13.   Support Wytukaze 20:06, 3 February 2008 (UTC) Not for any of the internationalisation issues, necessarily, but just for the sake of attempting to represent the various phones as closely as possible under one phoneme - we can get closer than /r/, I mean. Plus, our pronunciation key has given /ɹ/ as our phoneme for a long time. --Wytukaze 20:06, 3 February 2008 (UTC)
  14.   Support--Makaokalani 13:51, 4 February 2008 (UTC)
  15.   Support Consistency in usage is crucial, and in a multilingual environment such as ours, the only way we could represent both Spanish r and English r appropriately without confusion is to switch to /ɹ/ for English r, in my opinion. ArielGlenn 06:38, 11 February 2008 (UTC)
      Support - Many English dictionaries do not bother to make this distinction because the value of /r/ is understood in context even if it is not the right symbol. However, as we have English and non-English words on the same page, we should really avoid using /r/ for English red when it is also being used for Spanish red (although, as I understand it, the "r" in the latter is a flap, /ɾ/). I've always been slightly uncomfortable with using "r" for all "r" sounds. Support withdrawn after discussion with Rod (A. Smith). — Paul G 16:19, 16 February 2008 (UTC)
    I think, if this is carried, we also need to distinguish between UK and US "r"s (/ɹ/ for the former; Wikipedia says that /ɻ/ is used in "some varieties of American English", but what is the symbol for "r" in General American?) in the same way that we already distinguish between /əʊ/ and /oʊ/ for UK/US pronunciation of "oh". We may also need to think about what happens in other Englishes, such as Canadian and Australian English, which are currently very thin on the ground.
    What happens to /r/ in Spanish and Italian? Italian "r" and "rr" are commonly rendered as /r/ and /rr/ in Italian dictionaries (and even in English-Italian dictionaries, where /r/ is used for English "r" as well). Will these become /ɾ/ and /r/ respectively? The Italian "r" is a trill, but in common with other doubled letters, it is considered to be an "extended" version of the flap, hence the rendering as /rr/.
    What about /r/ in the rhymes pages? Should this be changed too? The rhymes pages follow UK pronunciation, with "(r)" being used for "r" only heard in rhotic accents.
    Finally, will it be possible to do make this change using a bot? Many pronunciations don't have regional labels. — Paul G 07:47, 13 February 2008 (UTC)
    This vote is not about the symbol to use for phonetic transcriptions. Yes, good phonetic transcriptions (to be given in square brackets) should distinguish between the British and US sounds for the /r/ phoneme, but phonemic transcriptions (given in slashes) must not distinguish between the pronunciation of a given phoneme between various dialects. Rod (A. Smith) 16:55, 13 February 2008 (UTC)
  16.   Support H. (talk) 19:31, 29 February 2008 (UTC) Though I didn’t read all the discussion, I do think it is ridiculous to claim English has [r]. Why the preference for this sign? What’s so difficult about [ɹ], except that it isn’t in the standard alphabet (but then, most IPA symbols aren’t). H. (talk) 19:31, 29 February 2008 (UTC)
  17.   Support Leftmostcat 00:37, 10 March 2008 (UTC) The primary argument I've seen against this is that it makes the pronunciation key less readable for those who are unfamiliar with the IPA or causes font support issues. There are plenty of necessary distinctions in English, however, which are non-obvious and require font support and which can't be thrown away. This will allow for greater precision of transcriptions and increased usefulness of transcriptions across languages and I have yet to see a concrete example of a disadvantage thereof. — Leftmostcat 00:37, 10 March 2008 (UTC)


  Oppose Rod (A. Smith) 16:44, 24 January 2008 (UTC) vote changed to abstain, below Rod (A. Smith) 20:46, 27 January 2008 (UTC) The text of this vote shows phonemic transcription style (indicated by the use of slashes instead of square brackets), but the distinction between ɹ, ɾ, and r is a purely phonetic one. Since this vote is about phonetic distinctions, the text should read as follows:
For the phonetic pronunciation of English terms, agreement to use the more specific IPA character for r, such as [ɹ] or [ɾ], instead of [r]. Phonemic transcriptions (i.e., dialect-neutral ones indicated with slashes) may be treated differently.
Are you saying that the use of /slashes/ for the two pronunciations given at bear is incorrect? Given that we already have different pronunciations for US (Gen Amer) and UK (Received), I'm a bit hard-pressed to believe that there is such a thing as a dialect-neutral transcription in English.
Consider this proposal to say that "phonemic transcriptions should use /ɹ/ instead of /r/". I probably never should have written /ɾ/ since it would only ever be [ɾ]. I strike it and inform all voters. DAVilla 21:15, 24 January 2008 (UTC)
Yes. The pronunciations listed (*/bɛə/ invalid IPA characters (/) and */bɛɚ/ invalid IPA characters (/)) are phonetic transcriptions masquerading as phonemic transcriptions. It should be (UK) [bɛə] and (US) [bɛɚ]. The proper phonemic transcriptions would be (non-rhotic) IPA(key): /beə(r)/ (the final /r/ phoneme is pronounced before vowels) and (rhotic) IPA(key): /beər/. Rhotic English doesn't make a phonemic distinction between the sounds [ɚ] and [əɹ]. Think about how you pronounce bear in The bear and other animals. Instead of swallowing the final /r/ phoneme, it's fully pronounced, so you get something like [ðəˈbɛɚɹændˌʌðɚˈɹænəmɫz]. To represent pronunciations phonemically, we must be sure to identify only contrasting sounds in English. Otherwise, we're doing phonetic transcription and must use square brackets. I'd support this vote if it were clear that we're talking only about phonetic transcription. Phonemic transcription produces results that are easier to read, but there's much more up-front analysis required to make phonemic claims. Rod (A. Smith) 21:38, 24 January 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for the explanation here and above. If we were to explore this further, I would wonder if it's possible to put dialects into two major classes instead of just the one, and to write phonemic transcriptions for "American" English including a larger constituency than just Midwestern radio talk show hosts, in contrast to "British" English including a larger constituency than just late Queens of England. These would not be phonemic because, for instance, Canuck Engish falls under the first, Indian English under the second. In other words, I'm not convinced that the masquerade at bear is that far off the mark.
With regard to this vote, I'm more certain now that your amendment would not be friendly, but not because of this issue. The point, again, is purely to use the funny upside-down r in phonemic transcriptions because, since [r] doesn't occur in English, /r/ could be misleading. At least we know now that we disagree. If someone who would otherwise be for this motion has objection to the wording, I would be more than happy to consider corrections. DAVilla 10:29, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
It's refreshing to disagree in such a productive and civil manner. Thanks, DAVilla. :-) Rod (A. Smith) 18:31, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
Actually /ɾ/ could be used for the tap of t/d, which although being separate from the issue of r, doesn't convince me that it needs to be struck. Anyways the point is to prefer the funny upside-down r to the one that in a phonetic transciption would represent the incorrect sound. DAVilla 21:23, 24 January 2008 (UTC)
I suppose it's possible to write /ɾ/ for the intervocalic phoneme in rider, but most people use /d/ (or possibly /t/) for it. For the phoneme pronounced variably as [ɹ], [ɾ], and [ʁ] (depending on accent), /r/ seems like a nice choice because (a) [r] doesn't occur in English it's unambiguous to people who speak any variety of English, and (b) it yields easy-to-read transcriptions for non-liguists who speak English. Rod (A. Smith) 21:50, 24 January 2008 (UTC)
One final point: We shouldn't be doing any phonemic transcriptions until we determine a comprehensive set of phonemes for the language in question and how to represent them consistently. Otherwise, ad-hoc phonemic transcriptions inadvertently make claims about what sounds are and are not contrasting in the language. That's another reason to reword this vote to use brackets instead of slashes. Rod (A. Smith) 18:38, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
Post-final point ;-) : According to w:Welsh English, some English speakers do use [r] for /r/. When a Welsh English speaker says [friː], other English speakers hear free /fri/, not *fddee /fddi/, so, in English, [ɹ], [ɾ], [ʁ], and [r] are allophones. When transcibing phonetically, of course we should write [ɹ] or whatever phone we really mean for the dialect in question, but like other linguists, we should choose /r/ for the dialect-neutral English phoneme. Rod (A. Smith) 22:11, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
Well, we'll want to be careful about reasoning like that in your second sentence: [ph] and [p] are allophones in English, but if you hear [p] in the wrong spot, you can easily think it's [b]. I think the real take-home point is that we should avoid original research; we're just not equipped for it. —RuakhTALK 23:23, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
Right. I'm in favor of avoiding original research. Most linguists who distinguish between phonemic and phonetic transcription seem to use /r/ for the English r phoneme. This vote was misworded without the conventional wording review period. Its intent was to correct an error with our phonetic transcriptions but it actually governs phonemic transcriptions. Some supporters clearly thought they were discussing phonetic transcription. Without a complete policy for phonemic transcriptions, we will continue to make claims we don't intend to make about English. Please reword the vote. It will easily pass with square brackets. Rod (A. Smith) 02:06, 26 January 2008 (UTC)
I rarely if ever see brackets used in any of our entries. Usually there are slashes. If we were to start adding more bracketed terms, then [r] would be incorrect, so I don't see why a vote is necessary to oppose it. This vote is about phonemic transcription.
Regardless of what is normally used for English, we are not solely an English dictionary, and /ɹ/ is not incorrect, whereas /r/ could be misleading. We already make exception from other dictionaries when multilingual issues arise, e.g. in listing every inflected form as its own entry. If you want a policy for phonemic transcriptions, I would propose that, for any language, the most common phoneme be used to represent the allophone. This is the test case for that. DAVilla 11:44, 26 January 2008 (UTC)
I almost agree: we should adopt the unambiguous, most general symbol for the most common allophone of a given phoneme. For example, even if [ɫ], [pʰ], [ɾ], or [ɦ] are more common than [l], [p], [d], or [h], respectively, we shouldn't use */ɫ/, */pʰ/, */ɾ/, or */ɦ/, because /l/, /p/, /d/, and /h/ are simpler, yet unambiguous within the context of English. Anyway, I prefer the new wording to the original because at least now it's clear that refers to phonemic transcription. However, note that it appears to mandate /ɹ/ not only for the phonemic transcription of [ɹ], (US) [ɻʷ], (Scottish English) [ɾ], (Welsh English) [r], and (Cajun English) [ʁ], but also for vocalic r of rhotic accents (i.e. [ɚ] and [ɝ]) and possibly for the occasionally-pronounced r of non-rhotic accents (e.g., suggesting to transcribe her as (non-rhotic) /həː(ɹ)/). I'd change to an abstain vote if it were more speficic, e.g.:
For the pronunciation of English terms, agreement to use the specific IPA character /ɹ/ instead of /r/ for the r phoneme in words like red, green, orange, and (rhotic) purple.
Something like the above would clarify the scope. If the r in purple is intended as part of the scope, we would have to transcribe it phonemically as something like (rhotic) /ˈpəɹ.pəl/. If we align with linguists who consider the vocalic liquids as distinct phonemes, a better transcription would be something like (rhotic) /ˈpɝːpɫː/, so purple should be removed from the above list and rhotic, vocalic r noted as an exception. Is the above text the actual intent? Rod (A. Smith) 19:51, 26 January 2008 (UTC)
Done, thank you. I have left out "purple" so as to narrow the scope. That issue can be addressed separately if need be.
Frankly I don't see what would be so wrong about using both /pʰ/ and /p/ in transcriptions, understanding the pattern is universal across English speakers. To me it doesn't immediately imply that they're separate phonemes, it's just a clarification for those who are not native speakers and need that sort of information. But I guess that's not the way linguists do it. DAVilla 19:12, 27 January 2008 (UTC)
If you don't see what would be wrong with allowing */pʰ/ in transcriptions of English words, please do some further reading about phonemic transcription. It absolutely would imply that there are two different phonemes in English, and that implication would be very wrong. The terms phonemic and phonetic often coincide with broad and narrow, but phonemic has additional implications. Rod (A. Smith) 20:46, 27 January 2008 (UTC)
  1.   Oppose Connel MacKenzie 01:41, 27 January 2008 (UTC) Simply wrong in American English. Procedurally wrong as the WT:BP discussion was light-years away from agreement. --Connel MacKenzie 01:41, 27 January 2008 (UTC) (And still invisible on default platforms for almost all our readers.) --Connel MacKenzie 01:43, 27 January 2008 (UTC)
    There is already a long timeframe, and I am resetting that today, which will extend it further. I would wish to have everyone's opinion counted. DAVilla 17:08, 27 January 2008 (UTC)
    Connel, the stress marks in IPA are invisible in those same platforms that have trouble with this character, so IPA already includes characters that will not display in IE6. That's one of the reasons we still have SAMPA and enPR. --EncycloPetey 01:15, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
      Opposevote changed to abstain, below Transcribing subphonemic features phonemically (between '//'s) is just plain wrong. Correct me if I'm wrong (I'm no IPA expert), but 'l's in little are not so the same (alveolar vs. velar?), so why not apply the same logic there? Generally I agree that the most precise phonetic (in '[]'s) transcription should be adopted, but most of the users wishing to learn the actual pronunciation don't have Ph.D in linguistics and don't know what symbols [ɹ], [ɾ] and [ʁ] mean. I think it's important at least to present them a version which says "you can pronounce this phoneme (=class of sounds with nondistinctive features) any way it's similarily pronounced in the contexts you already encountered it in other words, end every English speaker will understend you, because no phonemic opposition occurs between it and other words which have different phonemic transcription". --Ivan Štambuk 02:39, 27 January 2008 (UTC)
    I think you might be misunderstanding the proposal. No one is suggesting to distinguish between different phones of the phoneme represented graphically by <r>; rather, the suggestion is to use a single symbol for that phoneme — the symbol for one of the more common phones. (The phone [r] does not exist in any major dialect of English, so allegedly it's a bad idea to use it for the phoneme represented graphically by <r>. There's a lot of validity to this view — we wouldn't want to use /j/ for [dʒ] and /y/ for [j], for example, and say "It's O.K., we're just being phonemic!" — but the question is whether it outweighs other considerations that might support using /r/.) —RuakhTALK 03:49, 27 January 2008 (UTC)
    Well, the original (and presumably still active) text of the vote says, “use the more specific IPA character for r, such as /ɹ/ or /ɾ/, instead of /r/”, so my interpretation is that this vote was proposed to transcribe subphonemic features phonemically. Rod (A. Smith) 04:44, 27 January 2008 (UTC)
    I have adjusted the wording of the vote to Rod's suggestion. I hope this alleviates your concerns, and that you would be willing to reconsider your vote, for or against. DAVilla 17:08, 27 January 2008 (UTC)
    But it still uses phonemic transcription with slashes, just like pronunciation sections of red, green, orange? From w:International_Phonetic_Alphabet: When a word is written as phonemes, it is usually enclosed in slashes. For example, the American pronunciation of the English word "little" may be transcribed broadly using the IPA as /lɪtl/. This broad transcription merely identifies the separate phonetically relevant components of the word, and does not indicate the variety of corresponding sounds. On the other hand, the narrow transcription (placed between square brackets) specifies the way each sound is pronounced. A more narrow transcription of "little" would be different depending on the way it is said: [lɪɾɫ], [lɪʔɫ], or [lɪːɫ] are just a few possibilities. Proposal in it's current form still seems to 1) pertain to phonemic transcription 2) advising usage of at least two different symbols for the same phoneme (Rod mentioned Welsh example). And I ask again, if this is supposed to pertain to phonetic transcription in general, why just stop on phoneme 'r', why not adopt more precise phonetic transcriptions of a phoneme 'l' (and other ones) as well? --Ivan Štambuk 18:37, 27 January 2008 (UTC)
    Could you give an example of two uses of phoneme 'r' that, under this proposal, would receive different symbols? —RuakhTALK 19:06, 27 January 2008 (UTC)
    These are still broad, phonemic transcriptions in slashes that we are talking about, yes. Any symbol can be used to represent the phoneme, constituting several sounds that to English speakers are allophones, closely related, often indistinguishable at least to our ears. The "Welsh example" was simply making it clearer which of those sounds actually constitute this phoneme, which was one correction now made. We do not want to use two symbols for this phoneme (another mistake in the first wording), we want to agree on which symbol to use. If the issue has arisen for /l/ or other phonemes, then it dissipated quickly. For /r/ vs. /ɹ/ it has come up repeatedly. And if I may offer a word of advice, never start a vote without waiting for a week's worth of feedback. Luckily this one is finally on track. DAVilla 19:12, 27 January 2008 (UTC)
    So basically what you are advocating is phonemically transcribing 'r' phoneme of Welsh English [friː] as /ɹ/ ? --Ivan Štambuk 21:32, 27 January 2008 (UTC)
    Well, anything in slashes wouldn't be labeled as Welsh. Yes, we're kind of whitewashing all of English to say that it uses [ɹ] when specific dialects might use something different. But at least [ɹ] is more pravelent than any of the others. Anyways, there's nothing wrong with listing [friː] as a phonetic translation for Welsh. DAVilla 01:11, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
  2.   Oppose Changing my vote. I did not understand the distinction between phonemic and phonetic transcription sufficiently well. Using /r/ is fine because of the idea of allophones. —This unsigned comment was added by Paul G (talkcontribs).
    (I have marked this with your signature because we do not have any other way to break comments into paragraphs on votes. DAVilla 18:26, 16 February 2008 (UTC))
    Here's something that blows the proposal out of the water. My French (monolingual) dictionary uses IPA /r/ for the French sound r (possibly uvular - it doesn't say). So if a French dictionary can use /r/, recognising that it needn't use /ʀ/ or the inverted capital R, then /r/ is good enough for all varieties of "r" in English.
    If this proposal is rejected, as I now believe would be the correct course of action, then I think it would be a good idea to have an appendix or something that explains the distinctions between the various phonetic transcriptions of the letter "r", saying what they sound like (preferrably with sound files) and which varieties of English use each of them. — Paul G 16:25, 16 February 2008 (UTC)
    While the idea of having an "r"-appendix seems reasonable on the face of it, remember that some of those sounds would be trills, while others would be approximants. They do not all fall into the same linguistic category; the only shared feature they all have is the symbol used to represent the sound. Would you want to have similar cross-lingual appendices for g? h? l? w? Each of these letters (and many more) represent different sounds in different languages, just as r does. Each of them also has dialectical variantions in some of those languages, just as r does, --EncycloPetey 17:48, 1 March 2008 (UTC)
    As you yourself say, that French dictionary is monolingual. Monolingual dictionaries can often get away with using less specific transcriptions since there's generally little danger that someone using a monolingual French dictionary will misunderstand the dictionary as saying that French contains an alveolar trill. Wiktionary is not a monolingual dictionary, however, and as such we have to deal with phonemes that won't ever occur in French alone. Further, many dictionaries using this sort of generalized IPA (I have an Irish dictionary that does just this, replacing /ɾ/ with /r/) still note such changes in the introduction. While we could appendicize all of these, I believe it would be more convenient to simply distinguish between different r phonemes at the transcription level and I still see no concrete disadvantage to this. — Leftmostcat 05:33, 10 March 2008 (UTC)


  1.   AbstainRuakhTALK 13:11, 24 January 2008 (UTC) I can think of few issues I have less of an opinion about, but I'm glad we have IPAedants among us. :-)   Incidentally, y'all might be interested in Sally Thomason's Language Log entry "Why I Don't Love the International Phonetic Alphabet", if you haven't already seen it. It doesn't specifically address /r/, but it discusses closely related issues. —RuakhTALK 13:11, 24 January 2008 (UTC) Still abstain.RuakhTALK 19:06, 27 January 2008 (UTC)
    That the more common sounds are transcribed with sometimes difficult to write IPA symbols, and that some simple IPA symbols represent rarely needed sounds, is a problem with IPA as it applies to linguists in the field. We have no choice but to use IPA correctly, as the standard is dictated, despite its problems. While /r/ may be permissible, we cannot be mavericks and use a haček, so I don't think this line of reasoning is a good one to adopt.
    Even with little linguistic knowledge, I have problems with IPA as well. I think that the aspirated plosives should constitute separate (though similar) characters, seeing as the distinction is made in so many languages. So I found the article very interesting, and a survey like the one undertaken would probably be a good idea for the Internatioal Phonetics Association. But not for us. DAVilla 15:41, 24 January 2008 (UTC)
    There are always lots of heated arguments about it, but I think there is consensus that its advantages still vastly outweigh its disadvantages. Widsith 15:55, 24 January 2008 (UTC)
  2.   Abstain Rod (A. Smith) 20:46, 27 January 2008 (UTC) My ideal would be for each entry to include (a) typographically simple yet IPA-guidelines-compliant phonemic transcriptions to cover the phonologically distinct dialects and (b) multiple phonetic transcriptions, including a broad one for each major dialect and some slightly more narrow ones to show key accents of various dialects. That would be a huge endeavor, though, so until we're prepared to embark on such a thing, we can only afford one type of transcription per entry, and I understand that phonemic transcription is preferable. I empathize with contributors who want to help ESL readers and who want to follow an assumed IPA guideline for choice of symbols in phonemic transcription. I dislike the fact that /ɹ/ aligns with the phonetics of a specific dialect, but since it's the prestige dialect for most English speakers, it's not a particularly bad alignment. I worry about the assumption that correct phonemic IPA transcriptions are translingually unambiguous (i.e. /pɪn/ implies something like /bɪn/ to an ESL speaker whose native language contrasts aspirated and unaspirated plosives). However, that assumption probably won't be made or broken by our choice of /ɹ/, /ɻ/, /ɾ/, or /r/ for the English phoneme behind [ɹ], [ɻ], [ɾ], [ʋ], [r], [ʁ] invalid IPA characters (][][][][][), and their variations (and perhaps for the trailing component of r-colored vowels). My preference is for the technically valid, dialect-neutral /r/, but if we adopt /ɹ/ instead now, at least we'll be uniform. If we come to our senses later, a bot can fix it. ;-) Rod (A. Smith) 20:46, 27 January 2008 (UTC)
    Please, I would love to see a hidden box with phonetic transcriptions for every dialect. Not only that but a corresponding audio file! Oh, how much I would learn! Why are the sound files merely labeled US or UK? Let's make way! I'm not sure my opinion on this issue will change even then, but hey, with all that sensory input, how could you expect me to come to my senses? DAVilla 01:19, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
  3.   Abstain --Ivan Štambuk. I could swear I've never seen /ɹ/ actually used in phonemic transcription in any dictionary I used, but it do appears it's doing less harm then the usual 'r' (Welsh English aside). IPA is credited with much more prominence then it should have been, IMHO. Slavistics traditionally uses it's own special symbols for transcription that sometimes differ from those internationally used to a very large extent. I feel that wiktionary should follow the most widely used symbol (i.e. 'r') in order to accommodate ESL users who are most likely to find symbol /ɹ/ dubious linguistic perversion. --Ivan Štambuk 22:09, 27 January 2008 (UTC)