Computer Phonetic Characters


The tables below lists four transcription schemes for phonemes. Please note that these schemes have been designed for specific languages to be transcribed. The first scheme has been designed for the transcription of Danish, Dutch, English, French, German and Italian. The other three schemes were designed for a subset of these languages, viz. only English, Dutch and German. A longer description of the four transcription schemes follows the tables. Once again, be warned that none of these transcription schemes covers the whole symbol set of the International Phonetic Alphabet (I.P.A.). There is a different transcription scheme which covers the whole I.P.A., by using more than one ASCII character per IPA symbol.

In the ASCII table below, the transcription symbols cannot be defined by reference to symbols of the International Phonetic Alphabet. Hence, the symbols are defined here by reference to example words in Dutch, English and German (when available). For each phonetic symbol, the relevant characters in (the orthographic transcriptions of) these example words are printed in capitals. German words are given without initial capitals for nouns, and with the umlaut transcribed as an e after the umlauted vowel. Diacritic symbols are not defined by example words, but by their description.

Further details of the transcription schemes are given in the section below.
For restrictions on use of the information below, see the final section on ownership and copyrights.

Index by phonetic category

(The links above refer to sections of this file, not to other files).

A plain-text version of this file is also available.


Dutch   English German         SAM-PA  CELEX   CPA     DISC

Put     Pat     Pakt            p       p       p       p
Bad     Bad     Bad             b       b       b       b
Tak     Tack    Tag             t       t       t       t
Dak     Dad     Dann            d       d       d       d
Kat     Cad     Kalt            k       k       k       k
Goal    Game    Gast            g       g       g       g
laNG    baNG    klaNG           N       N       N       N
Man     Mad     Mass            m       m       m       m
Nat     Nat     Naht            n       n       n       n
Lat     Lad     Last            l       l       l       l
Rat     Rat     Ratte           r       r       r       r
Fiets   Fat     Falsch          f       f       f       f
Vat     Vat     Welt            v       v       v       v
--      THin    --              T       T       T       T
--      THen    --              D       D       D       D
Sap     Sap     gaS             s       s       s       s       
Zat     Zap     Suppe           z       z       z       z
SJaal   SHeep   SCHiff          S       S       S       S
ravaGe  meaSure Genie           Z       Z       Z       Z
Jas     Yank    Jacke           j       j       j       j
liCHt   loCH    baCH,iCH        x       x       x       x
reGen   --      --              G       G       G       G
Had     Had     Hand            h       h       h       h
Wat     Why     Waterproof      w       w       w       w


Dutch   English German          SAM-PA  CELEX   CPA     DISC

--      --      PFerd            pf      pf      pf      +
--      --      Zahl             ts      ts      C/      =
--      CHeap   Matsch           tS      tS      T/      J
Jazz    Jeep    Gin              dZ      dZ      J/      _ {underscore}

Syllabic Consonants

Dutch   English German          SAM-PA  CELEX   CPA     DISC

--      bacoN    --              N,      N,      N,      C
--      idealisM --              M,      m,      m,      F
--      burdeN   --              n,      n,      n,      H
--      dangLe   --              l,      l,      l,      P
--      fatheR   --              r*      r*      r*      R

Long Vowels

Dutch   English German          SAM-PA  CELEX   CPA     DISC

lIEp    bEAn    lIEd             i:      i:      i:      i
bUUt    --      fUEr             y:      y:      y:      y
lEEg    --      mEHl             e:      e:      e:      e
dEUk    --      mOEbel           |:      &:      q:      |
lAAt    --      klAr             a:      a:      a:      a
bOOm    --      bOOt             o:      o:      o:      o
bOEk    bOOn    hUt              u:      u:      u:      u
--      bArn    advAntage        A:      A:      A:      #
--      bOrn    Allroundman      O:      O:      O:      $
--      bUrn    teamwOrk         3:      3:      @:      3
scEne   --      kAEse            E:      E:      E:      )

Short Vowels

Dutch   English German         SAM-PA  CELEX   CPA     DISC

lIp     pIt     Mitte           I       I       I       I
--      --      pfUEtze         Y       Y       Y       Y
lEg     pEt     bEtt            E       E       E       E
--      --      gOEtter         /       Q       Q       /
lAt     --      kAlevAla        A       A       A       A
--      pAt     rAgtime         {       &       ^/      {
--      --      hAt             a       a       a       &
--      pot     --              Q       O       O       Q
bOm     --      glOcke          O       O       O       O
pUt     --      --              }       U       Y/      }
--      pUtt    plUmpudding     V       V       ^       V
--      pUt     pUlt            U       U       U       U
gElijk  AnothER bEginn          @       @       @       @

"Borrowed Vowels"

Dutch   English German          SAM-PA  CELEX   CPA     DISC

analYse --       --             i::     i::     i::     !
..fUge  --       --             y::     y::     y::     (
frEUle  --       --             /:      U:      Q:      *
zOne    --       --             Q:      O:      o:      <
--      tImbre   IMpromptu      {~      &~      ^/~     c
--      detENte  detENte        A~:     A~:     A~:     q
--      lINgerie bassIN         {~:     {~:     ^/~:    0
--      bouillON affrONt        O~:     O:~     O:~     ~
--      --       parfUM         /~:     Q~:     Q~:     ^


Dutch   English German          SAM-PA  CELEX   CPA     DISC

rEIs    --      --              EI      EI      y/      K
hUIs    --      --              /I      UI      q/      L
kOUd    --      --              Au      AU      A/      M
--      bAY     nAtive          eI      eI      e/      1
--      bUY     shYlock         aI      aI      a/      2
--      bOY     playbOY         OI      OI      o/      4
--      nO      --              @U      @U      O/      5
--      brOW    allrOUndman     aU      aU      A/      6
--      pEEr    --              I@      I@      I/      7
--      pAIr    --              E@      E@      E/      8
--      pOOr    --              U@      U@      U/      9
--      --      wEIt            ai      ai      a/      W
--      --      hAUt            au      au      A/      B
--      --      frEUt           Oy      Oy      o/      X


** d e s c r i p t i o n **     SAM-PA  CELEX   CPA     DISC

length marker                   :       :       :       {not coded}
syllable marker                 -       -       .       - {hyphen}
primary stress                  "       '       '       '
secondary stress                %       "       "       "
nasalisation                    ~       ~       ~       {not coded}


"It was developed in connection with a European Community research program, and it has been presented in the Journal of the International Phonetic Association (1987) 17(2), pp. 94-114 as a widely-agreed computer-readable phonetic character set for use with Danish, Dutch, English, French, German and Italian. For technical reasons, [this] version of SAM-PA ... has to include one change: the \ character (ASCII code 92) representing the 'half-open front rounded' vowel sound has been implemented as / (ASCII code 47)." (Burnage 1990: 3-25; see references below)
"...originally developed for use within CELEX." (ibid.)
see below.
"...the Computer Phonetic Alphabet, or Esprit 291, ... was developed in the Ruhr Universitaet Bochum, West Germany." (ibid.)
"is a computer phonetic alphabet made up of distinct single characters. ... It provides one character for one segment -- in contrast to the other three sets which use extra characters for long vowels, affricates and diphthongs." (ibid.)
see below.

Acknowledgements, Copyrights, etc.

The above table is copied with permission from the copyright owner (CELEX, the Centre for Lexical Information), from the following source:
Burnage, G. (1990) CELEX: A Guide for Users. ISBN 90-373-0063-4.
Appendix 2: "Computer Phonetic Character Codes".
The CELEX and DISC transcription systems are developed and owned by the Centre for Lexical Information in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. Permission has been granted to distribute the above table, but further use of the CELEX and DISC transcriptions in computer software has to be further negotiated with the Centre for Lexical Information (, Wundtlaan 1, 6525 XD Nijmegen, the Netherlands, telephone +31-(0)80-615797.

The SAM-PA transcription scheme is described in the folllowing article:

Wells, J.C. (1987) Computer-coded phonetic transcription, Journal of the International Phonetic Association 17 (2), pp.94-144.

This document was most recently updated on April 25, 1996.

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