Tag Archives: Linguistics

Why American Phonetic Transcription Sucks

Today I will divert from the usual subject of my articles and talk about linguistics—phonetic transcription in particular.  One of the most important tips I have for fantasy writers is this: the International Phonetic Alphabet is your friend.  If you intend to merely invent names for characters or even create an entire language for your world, knowing at least a smattering of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) will prove indispensable.  I’m going to write an article on why you should use the IPA when making up words for a fantasy world, but this is not that article.

The IPA is what dictionaries like the Oxford English Dictionary use to transcribe the pronunciation of words, and this makes it easy to understand the correct way to pronounce any word.  In spite of the usefulness and elegance of the International Phonetic Alphabet, however, the Americans don’t use it, and I’m sorry to say that the American equivalent is just plain awful.
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