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see phoneticsphonetics
, study of the sounds of languages from three basic points of view. Phonetics studies speech sounds according to their production in the vocal organs (articulatory phonetics), their physical properties (acoustic phonetics), or their effect on the ear (auditory
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; phonologyphonology,
study of the sound systems of languages. It is distinguished from phonetics, which is the study of the production, perception, and physical properties of speech sounds; phonology attempts to account for how they are combined, organized, and convey meaning in
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. See also the Pronunciation Keyfor the symbols used in pronunciations in this encyclopedia.


In this dictionary slashes (/../) bracket phonetic pronunciations of words not found in a standard English dictionary. The notation, and many of the pronunciations, were adapted from the Hacker's Jargon File.

Syllables are separated by dash or followed single quote or back quote. Single quote means the preceding syllable is stressed (louder), back quote follows a syllable with intermediate stress (slightly louder), otherwise all syllables are equally stressed.

Consonants are pronounced as in English but note:

ch soft, as in "church" g hard, as in "got" gh aspirated g+h of "bughouse" or "ragheap" j voiced, as in "judge" kh guttural of "loch" or "l'chaim" s unvoiced, as in "pass" zh as "s" in "pleasure"

Uppercase letters are pronounced as their English letter names; thus (for example) /H-L-L/ is equivalent to /aych el el/. /Z/ is pronounced /zee/ in the US and /zed/ in the UK (elsewhere?).

Vowels are represented as follows:

a back, that ah father, palm (see note) ar far, mark aw flaw, caught ay bake, rain e less, men ee easy, ski eir their, software i trip, hit i: life, sky o block, stock (see note) oh flow, sew oo loot, through or more, door ow out, how oy boy, coin uh but, some u put, foot *r fur, insert (only in stressed syllables; otherwise use just "r") y yet, young yoo few, chew [y]oo /oo/ with optional fronting as in `news' (/nooz/ or /nyooz/)

A /*/ is used for the `schwa' sound of unstressed or occluded vowels (often written with an upside-down `e'). The schwa vowel is omitted in unstressed syllables containing vocalic l, m, n or r; that is, "kitten" and "colour" would be rendered /kit'n/ and /kuhl'r/, not /kit'*n/ and /kuhl'*r/.

The above table reflects mainly distinctions found in standard American English (that is, the neutral dialect spoken by TV network announcers and typical of educated speech in the Upper Midwest, Chicago, Minneapolis/St.Paul and Philadelphia). However, we separate /o/ from /ah/, which tend to merge in standard American. This may help readers accustomed to accents resembling British Received Pronunciation.

Entries with a pronunciation of `//' are written-only.
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