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IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) -English vs Spanish!

The IPA, farther into the rabbit hole of linguistics, describing articulation.

A phonetic is a a sound, produced by the vocal track for communication.

Christopher actually sparked this discussion in another forum when giving an excellent explanation discussing the varying pronunciation of Spanish -d in puedo and poder.

Im hoping someone can help me find more sources of Spanish I.P.A., What are the Spanish IPA symbols that don't exist in the English IPA! And what sounds those symbols represent.

I found a great iPhone/iPad App which deserves to be introduced here in The Linguistics Corner.

This iPhone App by Word-Magic Software is only place I know which has phonetic spelling of Spanish and English in IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet)

The App is called " English-Spanish Dictionary, Word Magic Software 4.0.0" The App is free then you pay for additional cool features like I.P.A. and voice pronunciation Each language in three dialects. Just touch the phonetic [fə.ˈne.tɪk] spelling then pop-up option to change pronunciation to other dialects! Cool,

In IPA phonetic is spelled [fə.ˈne.tɪk]

Learn about the IPA and Word-Magic English-Spanish Dictionary by comparing English dialects, compare American and British English; use the word letter. The British often drop the -r when it comes in final position.

British pronunciation letter [ˈle.tə]
American pronunciation letter [ˈle.tər]

( Criticism of above IPA: the upside-down e is called schwa, and I think i do hear it in British pronunciation of letter. But Americans say the -r which totally covers the silent e ....

My understanding of the IPA is each specific sound has it own specific symbol! Truly, it sounds as it is spelled.

It's really nice when differences are addressed in writing because for non-native speakers, it is very difficult to identify sounds that don't exist in L1, language 1, a persons native language.

My name is Warthogg and I struggle with Spanish phonemes -d, -j and ñ. I hope this is the right group for animals like me. By the way, Warthogg sounds the way it is spelled, and I must be intelligent because I am big, mean and exceptionally ugly.

Here is another example from word-magic dictionary. As it turns out, according to Word-Magic, the European Spanish poder, and Latin American poder, the pronunciation is the same.

In both Spanish dialects (see pronunciation guide in book Essential Spanish which comes with CD set of Spanish Platinum) when -d comes between vowels it is pronounced -th which is IPA symbol ð called Eth.

Remember in Spanish h is always silent. Also, native Spanish speakers always say Spanish sounds the way it is written. This is their ethnocentric bias. Yes English spelling is phonetically dishonest, but Spanish is not entirely true as Latinos make it out to be!

Spanish sounds not represented in Spanish spelling....¡¡La venganza de los silent-h!!
Voiced English. -th = θ theta
Unvoiced English -th = ð eth

The Spanish pronunciation of poder is po'ðeɾ]

Example from word-magic English- Spanish Dictionary.
Poder [po'ðeɾ]
1. (ser capaz de) «Intransitive»
can, be able to, may, be apt to, have power to
lograr, alcanzar, conseguir, ser capaz de, tener capacidad para, tener el poder de, tener la facultad para, tener la habilidad de
Tener libre la facultad o potencia para hacer una cosa. | Tener facilidad, tiempo o lugar para hacer algo.

warthog [ˈwɔːrt.hɒɡ]
A wild African hog a warty face, large protruding tusks and a nasty temper.


  • edited April 2013
    Hi Warthog,
    Thanks for sharing this information! The app sounds very cool indeed.  Another source for IPA spelling of Spanish words is Wikcionario. If you want to explore the sounds of Spanish, a good place to look is this site created at the University of Iowa that not only gives you the symbols and example words, but also provides a video of a native speaker pronouncing each sound.  The site is all in Spanish, so you might need to have a dictionary handy to translate the terminology, but for example, if you're interested in how d is pronounced in various contexts, take a look at oclusivas (stops) section and the espirantes (fricatives) section.  The words 'cada' and 'disco' are good examples to show the difference and with the video it may be easier to pick out the distinction.
    Thanks again!
    Living Language
  • I went to Wikionario and yes it is in Spanish and no I was not able to find explanation to Spanish IPA.

    Wikcionario appears to be Wikipedia in Spanish. Where do I find Spanish IPA on Wikicionio? Is there an English based equivalent. I'm just a beginner in Spanish, that's the reason I interested in Spanish IPA.

    I clicked on the link which you described as "this site" by University Iowa and it took me to a completely blank page with uiowa in URL. Can give me the URL or words to search.
  • It just occurred to me Could that using my iPad is why the link "this site" is not functioning. When I get to a computer I will try again.
  • Hi Warthog,
    Sorry that the link didn't work.  It may be that the site relies on Flash which is why it wasn't working on your iPad.  Let me know if you continue to have trouble. Here's the link to the main page:
    The IPA in Wikcionario is next to the word in brackets .  It is on the line starting with the word "Pronunciación." 
    For example, if you go to the entry for Madrid:
    Do you see this?

      [ maˈðɾið ]  (AFI)

    Actually, unless you're very interested in learning IPA, it might be more useful to listen to the audio clips provided by Google Translate.  I find those to be the most useful. 
    Living Language
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