Are there any other graphic systems that attempt to be as complete as the International Phonetic Alphabet?



In addition there are phonetic notations that are designed with one language or group of languages in mind, for example Romaji for Japanese, pinyin for Chinese languages, and the many pronunciation respelling for English.

  • +1 @Louis Rhys: Thanks, it's been awhile, forgot about SAMPA, which in turn lead me to the Wiki page for Phonetic_transcription - guess I'm really looking for something that's not base on IPA though. – blunders Sep 23 '11 at 2:28
  • APA is not based on IPA. The wikipedia page you linked also mention the Uralic Phonetic Alphabet. – Louis Rhys Sep 23 '11 at 2:38
  • SAMPA is a bit confusing really. It's actually multiple related phonemic alphabets for various languages. It does not try to represent all sounds in all languages. For that there is its cousins X-SAMPA. A lot of people are confused by this for obvious reasons. – hippietrail Sep 23 '11 at 13:46
  • By the way, is Americanist the same as Kirschenbaum which I've seen references to somewhere or other? – hippietrail Sep 23 '11 at 21:22
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    @hippietrail according to wikipedia Kirschenbaum is just a mapping of IPA so that people can type it easily using a normal keyboard.. – Louis Rhys Sep 24 '11 at 4:44

The Finno-Ugric Transcription, a.k.a. the Uralic Phonetic Alphabet is comparably complete to IPA and much more regular and flexible.

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    @Alenanno: please do not edit my posts in a way that changes their meaning. I most definitely do not think that IPA is more regular or flexible than FUT. Just the opposite. Also, whether it is that or not is not a matter of my belief. FUT is objectively more regular than IPA; it is enough to just look at how they're constructed. And greater regularity gives FUT greater flexibility. I don't see why you should put the "I think" bit in my mouth. BTW, why was it wrong to offer a draft of my paper? – kamil-s Feb 25 '12 at 0:40
  • You said "objectively", who said it? As far as I know, you're the only and first one who said this, and that's why I added the "I think" part. Your answer makes it seem as it's an objective fact, while it's not. If you can prove it's objective, then expand your answer, otherwise I'll have no choice but re-edit it. I removed that part as it was not part of the answer but a personal comment. – Alenanno Feb 25 '12 at 0:43
  • The "I think" bit isn't really important to me, you can re-edit it and I won't protest again. It was the "to IPA and" > "to IPA which" that I objected to. My paper discusses various transcription systems, their built and usability for different purposes, so actually it was a part of the answer, not a personal comment. At any rate, FUT is objectively more regular than IPA, never mind who said it first and that you missed him or her saying it. Study the construction of FUT and compare it to the construction of IPA. (Only please use a decent source like Setälä 1901 or [continued in the next post] – kamil-s Feb 25 '12 at 0:57
  • [continued] Sovijärvi/Peltola 1977 rather than Wikipedia.) You will see that FUT is based on a relatively small number of letters to which diacritics are attached in a regular manner to adjust their meaning, and that the function of each diacritic is defined and constant. Now compare this to IPA where it is virtually impossible to say what modification of the shape of a letter means what and with what symbol any phonetic feature is recorded. This is what I mean by "greater regularity", and I really can't see how this is a personal, subjective opinion. – kamil-s Feb 25 '12 at 1:01
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    If that was what you objected to, why didn't you just fix that instead of reverting the edit? Second, if you propose here parts of your paper and then link to it, that's OK, but if you say "I wrote a paper here, email me for info", then it's not OK. That's the difference. About the UPA/FUT, I gave it a look, and as it says, it looks like a transcription system rather than a phonetic alphabet; not to mention it's used predominantly for Uralic languages, while IPA is universal. – Alenanno Feb 25 '12 at 1:25

I hope that this thread is not too dead, but I'd like to add IKPA - International Korean Phonetic Alphabet. It's based on Hangeul, so is mostly featural.


I have created a Unicode phonetic alphabet that I personally think is even better than the IPA.

It is the result of many hours of work on my behalf.

You can find the documentation on how to use it here: https://github.com/SalviaSage/Translingual-Phonetic-Alphabet

I update this page as I develop the alphabet further.

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    Welcome to Linguistics! Whilst this may theoretically answer the question, it would be preferable to include the essential parts of the answer here, and provide the link for reference. Otherwise, once the linked page gets moved or removed (e.g. if you move from GitHub or rename the project), your entire answer render invalid. – bytebuster Sep 1 '19 at 18:43

If you are not just talking about phonology, the most complete graphic system known to man at this point is


because it includes -all- writing systems known to man, including IPA (except maybe Mayan?).

  • Unicode is not about phonetic transcription as asked and does not yet include many writing systems. It does have all the major ones but quite a few exotic ones are still in proposal for future versions of Unicode. – hippietrail Sep 23 '11 at 13:48
  • Yes, I'm only talking about phonetic symbol system, in large part because I find IPA to just be a kettle of letters mixed together, instead of a system that an average person would use and find logical. – blunders Sep 23 '11 at 13:50
  • @blunders: I missed the 'phonetics' tag (you had that in from the beginning). But anyway, as a graphics system for sounds, IPA is culturally the most widely accepted because it is a modification of the Roman alphabet. A graphic system that attempts to be closer to the phonetics (a graphical feature that corresponds to a phonetic feature) would be a steep curve to learn, use, and promulgate despite its logicalness. – Mitch Sep 23 '11 at 14:06
  • When it comes to representing all sounds in all languages I don't think it's possible to have a system that an average person would use and find logical. – hippietrail Sep 23 '11 at 14:09
  • IPA is less widely used in USA from what I hear and the Americanist system is not widely used elsewhere. – hippietrail Sep 23 '11 at 14:10

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