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The IPA arbitrarily borrows and derives graphemes from the Greek, Latin and Cyrillic. The graphemes do not display basic features (i.e. place and manner of articulation) shared between phones like featural alphabets do (e.g. Hangul, Visible Speech).

(This bias is most obvious in that voiced and voiceless consonants have unique, arbitrarily chosen graphemes but aspirated consonants are indicated by a superscript "h" after the voiceless consonant.)

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    The graphemes are inherently unable to represent phonetic features. /a/ in English and German are two essentially different things. Leave alone /v/ or /s/, for example. Every grapheme is an abstraction, unless it were strictly tied to a language (or even a specific dialect). Graphemes of IPA neither have any relation to similarly-looking those in various languages, unless if it happens coincidentally.
    – bytebuster
    Jun 6, 2016 at 14:53
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    @bytebuster: A featural alphabet is designed to represent individual phonetic features by composition, showing the relationship between different phones. There are several examples on Omniglot.com and one professor entertained the concept of extending hangul to represent the IPA.
    – Anonymous
    Jun 6, 2016 at 15:52
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    @bytebuster the IPA does represent phonetic features. Your examples are of phonemes and you're certainly correct that these cannot be compared. Jun 6, 2016 at 22:44
  • "burrow" <--- borrow perchance? :) Jun 17, 2016 at 13:28

4 Answers 4

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Before such an alphabet could be created, there would have to be agreement as to what the features are, and there is no such agreement. An additional problem is that the resulting system would generate a superset of the IPA, thus would not be the equivalent of the IPA, since the content of the IPA is essentially arbitrary in not including symbols for all articulatory configurations (e.g. there is no symbol for a bilabial flap). Moreover, IPA is not just a collection of letters, it is letters organized according to an articulatory classification. There would be no logical problem in creating a general feature-based alphabet (assuming you can decide on a theory of features), which would require about 2 dozen combinable graphic elements. The problem would be coming up with a system that could be visually parsed.

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    It only need include all the same sounds that IPA does, but represented in a logical fashion rather than arbitrarily. IMO, visual parsing should be learned through rote in much the same way that we must learn IPA modeled after the Greek, Latin and Cyrillic alphabets rather than the Brahmic, Zhuyin, Kana or Hangul alphabets.
    – Anonymous
    Jun 6, 2016 at 16:49
  • Perhaps that would be possible if a theory of features were developed where all and only the IPA letters are described by free combination of elements. Otherwise, the alphabet generates a superset of IPA.
    – user6726
    Jun 6, 2016 at 17:14
  • Couldn't the part of the superset that doesn't occur in the IPA be ignored a la UPA? I assume those extra phones either don't occur in any language or can't be produced by humans.
    – Anonymous
    Jun 7, 2016 at 13:42
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Yes, check out www.physioalphabet.com. Physioalphabet is a featural international phonetic alphabet based on the physiology of human speech production. In many respects, it offers many advantages over IPA.

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    You might want to expand this to cover all of the properties covered by IPA, such as aspiration, rounding and palatalization as secondary articulations, breathiness, glottalization, ejectives, implosives.
    – user6726
    Jun 22, 2017 at 0:59
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Since you are asking, I would like to share with you the phonetic alphabet that I created. It is called the Translingual Phonetic Alphabet, TPA, and it is the result of many months of work. I personally believe that it is more accurate and more aesthetically pleasing than the IPA. There are charts there on GitHub where I host the project, as well as a document that has over 10,000 words and another document that has over 6,000 words or so which detail how to use it. There is also a keyboard typable method that I developed. It is also fully in Unicode and computer compatible.

https://github.com/SalviaSage/Translingual-Phonetic-Alphabet

Thanks for your interest and I completed this project in the benefit of everyone.

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Here's another option: the Musa Alphabet. It's not based on the Roman alphabet at all, which leads to less confusion and clearer features. You can read all about it at www.musa.bet. And here's a page where Musa is directly compared to the IPA: musa.bet/ipa.

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