The most common phonetic alphabet is the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), but it uses many special characters that are not part of the ASCII character set. A widely used phonetic alphabet that uses only ASCII characters is ARPAbet. Unfortunately, ARPAbet does not distinguish between all of the phonemes as IPA does. ARPAbet uses the same code [uh] for both the middle central lax stressed vowel (as in buck) and the high back lax rounded vowel (as in book).

Cynthia uses CPbet, which is a phonetic alphabet that I designed for multilingual speech synthesis.


Symbol Description Example word Transcription
[p] voiceless bilabial stop put [p uh t]
[t] voiceless alveolar stop top [t aa p]
[k] voiceless velar stop crazy [k r ey z iy]
[b] voiced bilabial stop buy [b ay]
[d] voiced alveolar stop dull [d uh l]
[g] voiced velar stop bug [b uh g]
[m] voiced bilabial nasal mouth [m aw th]
[n] voised alveolar nasal night [n ay t]
[ng] voiced velar nasal sing [s ih ng]
[f] voiceless labiao dental fricative find [f ay n d]
[v] voiced labio dental fricative vine [v ay n]
[th] voiceless dental fricative cloth [k l aa th]
[dh] voiced dental fricative clothe [k l ow dh]
[s] voiceless alveolar fricative see [s iy]
[z] voiced alveolar fricative zoo [z uw]
[sh] voiceless palato-alveolar fricative cash [k ae sh]
[zh] voiced palato-alveolar fricative leisure [l iy zh axr]
[ch] voiceless palato-alveolar affricate chicken [ch ih k ih n]
[jh] voiced palato-a;veolar affricate judge [jh uh jh]
[l] voiced alveolar lateral liquid [l ih k w ih d]
[w] voiced bilabial approximant water [w ee dx axr]
[r] voiced alveolar approximate round [r aw n d]
[y] voiced velar approximant year [y iy r]
[h] voiceless glottal fricative happy [h ae p iy]
[q] voiceless glottal stop kitten [k ih q n]
[dx] voiceless tap (allophone of /t/) latter [l ae dx er]


All vowels are unrounded unless specified otherwise.
Symbol Description Example word Transcription
[iy] high front tense sweet [s w iy t]
[ih] high front lax Bill [b ih l]
[ey] middle front tense ate [ey t]
[eh] middle front lax head [h eh d]
[ae] low front lax after [ae f t er]
[er] high central lax r-colored (stressed) bird [b er d]
[axr] high central lax r-colored (unstressed) creature [k r iy ch axr]
[uh] middle central lax (stressed) butter [b uh dx axr]
[ax] middle central lax (unstressed) about [ax b aw t]
[ay] low central tense diphthong kite [k ay t]
[aw] low central lax flower [f l aw er]
[aa] low back lax hot [h aa t]
[ow] middle back tense rounded goat [g ow t]
[oy] middle back tense rounded diphthong toy [t oy]
[ao] middle back lax rounded bought [b ao t]
[uw] high back tense rounded smoo [s m ow dh]
[uh] high back lax rounded wood [w uh d]