I'm working on speech project where the original authors chose to use the Computer Phonetic Alphabet (CPA), from Nuance, to store phonemes.

The problem is that the dictionaries we want now to use are all written in IPA. I was wondering if a translation table for these two languages was existing? Or another method to convert IPA into CPA?

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    @bytebuster CPA is described here. Commented May 24, 2013 at 11:12
  • The CPA is just a language-specific list of phonemes with ASCII keyboard representations. It should match straightforwardly with IPA so a translation table should be easy to construct if you're familiar with IPA and the target language. Commented May 24, 2013 at 11:16

1 Answer 1


Keep in mind that the A in IPA just means Alphabet and just like the Latin alphabet, it can be and is used differently for different languages, and even more than one way for the same language.

Like any phonemic transcription scheme it works best with a pronunciation guide.

The problem you are facing is a mapping problem. You need to decide exactly which sound is represented by each of your CPA symbols for your language and you need to decide exactly which sound is represented by each of the IPA symbols, for each of your sources if they differ.

Then if you are lucky and both are based on similar analyses of the sound systems of the language in question you will have a 1:1 mapping of CPA symbols to IPA symbols.

But more often than not you will not be quite this lucky and one scheme will have more symbols than the other scheme. This is where you will have to make decisions based on your knowledge of phonetics and phonology.

  • Should be duck soup. The American English matching is almost identical to the standard Kenyon and Knott IPA-based phoneme notation, which is what most bilingual dictionaries use for English. Be glad your dictionaries are using IPA and not Webster (shudder).
    – jlawler
    Commented May 24, 2013 at 17:50
  • I looked at the Nuance CPA document liked by Gaston and it is clearly an American phoneme subset with features such as rhotic shchwas. It does have a pronunciation guide with several example words for each phoneme. I was quite surprised to see the "o" in olive described as the "ah" sound - but looking further it looks like this is the American pronunciation. (Here is australia the "o" in olive is the same as the "o" in "hot".) Commented May 25, 2013 at 5:14
  • @hippietrail In my Alabama dialect, and indeed most US dialects, both olive and hot are pronounced with /ɑ/. Commented May 26, 2013 at 22:03

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