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Kirshenbaum /ˈkɜːrʃənbɔːm/, sometimes called ASCII-IPA or erkIPA, is a system used to represent the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) in ASCII. This way it allows typewriting IPA-symbols by regular keyboard. It was developed for Usenet, notably the newsgroups sci.lang and alt.usage.english. It is named after Evan Kirshenbaum, who led the collaboration that created it. The eSpeak open source software speech synthesizer uses the Kirshenbaum scheme.

Comparison of Kirshenbaum with X-SAMPA[edit | edit source]

The system uses almost all lower-case letters to represent the directly corresponding IPA character, but unlike X-SAMPA, has the notable exception of the letter 'r'. Examples where the two systems have a different mapping between characters and sounds are:

Sound IPA X-SAMPA Kirshenbaum
alveolar trill r r r<trl>
alveolar approximant ɹ r\ r
near-open front unrounded vowel æ { &
open back rounded vowel ɒ Q A.
open-mid central unrounded vowel ɜ 3 V"
primary stress ˈ " '
secondary stress ˌ % ,

Kirshenbaum charts of consonants and vowels[edit | edit source]

This chart is based on information provided in the Kirshenbaum specification.[1][2] It may also be helpful to compare it to the SAMPA chart or X-SAMPA chart.

Consonant chart[edit | edit source]

Kirshenbaum chart of consonants (the paired signs are voiceless/voiced consonants)
Place of articulation Labial Coronal Dorsal Laryngeal Alveolar laterals
Bilabial Labio‐
Dental Alveolar Retro‐
Palatal Velar Uvular Labio‐
Manner of articulation
Nasals m M n[ n n. n^ N n" n<lbv>
Stops p b t[ d[ t d t. d. c J k g q G t<lbv> d<lbv> ?
Fricatives P B f v T D s z s. z. S Z C C<vcd> x Q X g" w<vls> w H H<vcd> h<?> s<lat> z<lat>
Approximants r<lbd> r[ r r. j j<vel> g" w h
Laterals l[ l l. l^ L
Trills b<trl> r<trl> r"
Flaps   *   *. *<lat>
Ejectives p` t[` t` c` k` q`
Implosives b` d` d` J` g` G`
Clicks p! t! c![Note 1] c![Note 1] k! l!

The IPA consonant chart, for comparison, uses many symbols that are less widely supported:

IPA: Pulmonic consonants
Place Labial Coronal Dorsal Laryngeal
Nasal m ɱ n ɳ̊ ɳ ɲ̊ ɲ ŋ̊ ŋ ɴ
Stop p b t d ʈ ɖ c ɟ k ɡ q ɢ ʡ ʔ
Sibilant fricative s z ʃ ʒ ʂ ʐ ɕ ʑ
Non-sibilant fricative ɸ β f v θ̼ ð̼ θ ð θ̠ ð̠ ɹ̠̊˔ ɹ̠˔ ɻ˔ ç ʝ x ɣ χ ʁ ħ ʕ h ɦ
Approximant ʋ̥ ʋ ɹ̥ ɹ ɻ̊ ɻ j ɰ̊ ɰ ʔ̞
Tap/flap ⱱ̟ ɾ̼ ɾ̥ ɾ ɽ̊ ɽ ɢ̆ ʡ̆
Trill ʙ̥ ʙ r ʀ̥ ʀ ʜ ʢ
Lateral fricative ɬ ɮ ɭ̊˔ ɭ˔ ʎ̝̊ ʎ̝ ʟ̝̊ ʟ̝
Lateral approximant l ɭ̊ ɭ ʎ̥ ʎ ʟ̥ ʟ ʟ̠
Lateral tap/flap ɺ ɭ̆ ʎ̆ ʟ̆
IPA: Non-pulmonic consonants
Ejective Stop ʈʼ ʡʼ
Affricate t̪θʼ tsʼ t̠ʃʼ ʈʂʼ kxʼ qχʼ
Fricative ɸʼ θʼ ʃʼ ʂʼ ɕʼ χʼ
Lateral affricate tɬʼ cʎ̝̊ʼ kʟ̝̊ʼ
Lateral fricative ɬʼ
Click Tenuis ʘ ǀ ǃ ǂ ʞ
Voiced ʘ̬ ǀ̬ ǃ̬ ‼̬ ǂ̬
Nasal ʘ̃ ǀ̃ ǃ̃ ‼̃ ǂ̃
Tenuis lateral ǁ
Voiced lateral ǁ̬
Implosive Voiced ɓ ɗ ʄ ɠ ʛ
Voiceless ɓ̥ ɗ̥ ᶑ̥ ʄ̥ ɠ̊ ʛ̥

Vowel chart[edit | edit source]

Kirshenbaum simplified chart of vowels
(the paired signs are unrounded/rounded vowels; symbols in parentheses designate vowels that exist in some oral languages, but do not have IPA signs)
Front Central Back Rhotic
Close i y i" u" u- u
Near-close I I. (U-) U
Close-mid e Y @<umd> @. o- o R<umd>
Mid @ R
Open-mid E W V" O" V O
Near-open & &" (no symbols)
Open a. (a" A".) A A.

The IPA vowel chart, by comparison, uses many symbols that are less widely supported:

IPA: Vowels

Page Template:IPA vowels/styles.css must have content model "Sanitized CSS" for TemplateStyles (current model is "plain text").

Front Central Back

Paired vowels are: unrounded  rounded

Vowel modifiers and diacritics[edit | edit source]

Modifiers and diacritics follow the symbol they modify.

Modifier/diacritic Meaning
~ Nasalized
: Long
- Unrounded
. Rounded
" Centralized
<?> Murmured
<r> Rhoticized

Stress is indicated by ' for primary stress, and , for secondary stress, placed before the stressed syllable.

Background[edit | edit source]

The Kirshenbaum started developing in August 1992 through a usenet group,[3] after "being fed up with describing the sound of words by using other words".[4] It should be usable for both phonemic and narrow phonetic transcription.

  • It should be possible to represent all symbols and diacritics in the IPA.
  • The previous guideline notwithstanding, it is expected that (as in the past) most use will be in transcribing English, so where tradeoffs are necessary, decisions should be made in favor of ease of representation of phonemes which are common in English.
  • The representation should be readable.
  • It should be possible to mechanically translate from the representation to a character set which includes IPA. The reverse would also be nice.[1]

The developers decided to use the existing IPA alphabet, mapping each segment to a single keyboard character, and adding extra ASCII characters optionally for IPA diacritics.

An early (1993), different set in ASCII was derived from the pronunciation guide in Merriam-Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, which uses straight letters to describe the sound.[5]

Kirshenbaum's document, Representing IPA phonetics in ASCII[1], is commonly used as an example of an "IPA ASCII" system.[6]

The eSpeak software speech synthesizer uses the Kirshenbaum scheme to represent phonemes with ascii characters.[7]

Notes and references[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Kirshembaum assigned ⟨c!⟩ to IPA ⟨ʗ⟩, which he used indifferently for both alveolar ⟨ǃ⟩ and palatal ⟨ǂ⟩ clicks.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Kirshenbaum, Evan (2011-09-06). "Representing IPA phonetics in ASCII" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-04-19.
  2. Kirshenbaum, Evan. "Hewlett Packard Labs". HP labs. Archived from the original on 2004-02-19. Retrieved 2005-09-20.
  3. Moran, Steve; Cysouw, Michael. The Unicode Cookbook for Linguistics. Language Science Press. p. 46. doi:10.5281/zendo.773250. ISBN 9783961100903. ISSN 2364-8899.
  4. Kirshenbaum, Evan. "Usenet IPA/ASCII transcription". Archived from the original on 2011-09-26.
  5. Kirshenbaum, Evan. "FAQ: Summary of IPA/ASCII transcription for English". Archived from the original on 2011-08-08.
  6. Korpela, Jukka K. (28 June 2006). "Unicode Explained". O'Reilly Media. p. 367. ISBN 9780596101213.
  7. van Leussen, Jan-Wilem; Tromp, Maarten (26 July 2007). "Latin to Speech". p. 6.

External links[edit | edit source]

This article "Kirshenbaum" is from Wikipedia. The list of its authors can be seen in its historical and/or the page Edithistory:Kirshenbaum. Articles copied from Draft Namespace on Wikipedia could be seen on the Draft Namespace of Wikipedia and not main one.

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