Wondering if there is a list of all the IPA sound combinations and how to pronounce them. Searching brings up a bunch of partial and not too well done lists, so wondering if there is a standard or good resource on this.

For example, not even Wikipedia lists the sounds for a that I can find. There is ay, and ah, and uh perhaps, and at. There's probably many other subtle a sounds in other languages I would like to learn about. I would like to just see a list of all the sounds if possible.

Perhaps if there was a place that had audio recordings of the sounds that would be neat too!

  • 5
    Sounds are in continua of several dimensions. Languages (or, indeed, dialects and accents) divide these continua up in different ways. For example, there are four different /k/ sounds in 'cool', 'school', 'kill', 'skill', but they are regarded as identical in English (and people don't even notice they are different). But in some languages they would be treated as four different sounds (aspirated vs unaspirated, palatalised vs unpalatalised). I think this makes your goal unattainable.
    – Colin Fine
    Aug 26, 2018 at 10:22

1 Answer 1


Speakers of a given language can, by dint of speaking that language, pronounce the sounds of the language, so a Norwegian speaker can pronounce do, du, dy for you. If you ask a Finnish speaker to pronounce dy, you won't get the same thing. The association (IPA) has not sanctioned a specific set of recordings as the official standards for the letters of the IPA, and probably never will. For the moment, you can use demonstration charts constructed by recognised experts in the area. Peter Ladefoged's version is here. John Esling had an analogous chart, but it seems to be missing in action. (Aha: it crossed the ocean, here; you can also see various visualizations and two speakers).

There can't be a list of all IPA sound combinations ("ɓa, ɓɪ, ɓla, ɓlɪ, ŋɓa, ŋɓɪ...", since the set is infinite. I'm pretty sure that you are not looking for IPA combinations when you ask about "ay, ah, uh, at", instead you mean the IPA equivalents of some dictionary spelling system. Probably, "ay" represents the non-consonant of "may". There are a number of ways to represent that using IPA: [meɪ, me, me:, mɛɪ, mɛj, mej]. This is partially because there are competing phonemic analyses of the tense (long) vowels of English, and partly because the pronunciation differs – I go for [mɛɪ] as closest to my pronunciation, but people from The North (of England) are closer to [me:].

You could create a table of IPA-to-orthography correspondences using the CMU dictionary plus a near infinite supply of programming skill, since the dictionary lists very many putative words of English and their phonemic equivalents. (It includes numerous foreign words especially names, presumably because they appeared in some corpus; I don't know where they got their pronunciations from and I disagree much of the time). It uses a special coding where every phoneme is a string of blank-deletimited letters (" TH ") so you could convert that into IPA letters pretty easily. The hard part would be getting the orthographic correspondences, probably best attacked by anchoring consonant-to-consonant first.

  • The IPA has recently released an interactive chart which not only assists typing IPA symbols but allows you to listen to recordings by Ladefoged, Esling, House, and Wells: linguistics.ucla.edu/people/keating/IPA/inter_chart_2018/…
    – Nardog
    Aug 26, 2018 at 23:44
  • I also recommend this chart by Esling and Beck, which comes with MRI/Ultrasound moving images: seeingspeech.ac.uk/ipachart/display.php
    – Nardog
    Aug 26, 2018 at 23:47
  • I know in Norwegian "du" means "you", but I've never heard "do", except by foreigners who don't speak it that well, or "dy" I've never heard ever. So is that an archaic or something from an obscure moribund dialect? Aug 28, 2018 at 14:26
  • "Do" is the outhouse. I didn't know "dy" until a colleague mentioned it.
    – user6726
    Aug 28, 2018 at 15:07
  • There is no upper bound on the length of a combination of sounds. A phoneme is not a combination, it is a single sound.
    – user6726
    Aug 30, 2018 at 4:52

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