39 votes
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Why was "zh" picked to represent /ʒ/, and where does it come from?

It's based on an analogy s : sh :: z : zh. Since ⟨z⟩ represents the voiced counterpart to ⟨s⟩, at least some English speakers find it fairly natural to use ⟨zh⟩ to represent the voiced counterpart to ⟨...
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13 votes

Problems with the adoption of the Latin script in English?

English was written in the Latin alphabet even in the Old English period. Latin letters were introduced in the OE period by Irish missionaries around the 7th-8th century. The Anglo-Saxons converted to ...
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13 votes
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What is "=" in transcriptions of Hittite

Your guess is correct; the equals sign/double hyphen separates clitics from the words they attach to. For example, from the Ten-Year Annals (KBo 3.4 ii 65): nu=us=si=kan widār arha dahhun Then I ...
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11 votes

Why does Hebrew transcribe Akkadian š inconsistently?

Yes, some people think Akkadian š was pronounced [s]. For the sibilants, traditionally /š/ has been held to be postalveolar [ʃ], and /s/, /z/, /ṣ/ analyzed as fricatives; but attested ...
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10 votes

Why Korean transcriptions of Japanese words uses the letters ㄱ,ㄷ,ㅈ for initial /k/, /t/, /tɕ/ while using ㅋ,ㅌ,ㅊ for other languages?

As you may know, "single" stops in Korean are weakly aspirated in initial position only (audio example), so Japanese stops in the unvoiced series (such as た) correspond to Korean "...
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9 votes
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Why do transcriptions from Arabic contain numbers instead of letters?

The numbers represent Arabic letters of similar shapes, which mostly don't have an intuitive Roman equivalent: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arabic_chat_alphabet For example, 7 is ح and 3 is ع, which ...
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9 votes

What are the current hurdles to automatic audio to IPA transcription?

Dividing up the audio As you mentioned, formant analysis can place vowels nicely on a chart. But first you have to cut the vowels from the surrounding sounds. Often their formants are changed by ...
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  • 51k
9 votes
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A Lesson in Transcribing Egyptian Hieroglyphics

Short answer: Gardiner's classification system. It's what Unicode (and every major dictionary I know of) uses, and is quite comprehensive; pretty much anything you come across in everyday Egyptology ...
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9 votes

What's the difference between a syllabic consonant and a schwa followed by a consonant?

There are two answers, one in phonology, the other in phonetics. The phonology answer is at least initially mildly stupid: it says that [mr̩t] is a syllable with three segments, [r̩] being the peak ...
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8 votes
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What's the difference between [ɚ], [ɹ̩], and [əɹ]?

While what @Raizin says about [əɹ] is technically true--it is supposed to denote a sequence of two phones--I have seen [əɹ], [ɚ], [ɹ̩], and [ɝ] all used to refer to the same speech sound. The thing is,...
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8 votes
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Is there any International standard for representing phonemes?

IPA is neutral as to analysis: it is used to represent sound at any level, including underlying, intermediate form, phonemic transcription and surface realization.
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8 votes

Origin of the ا that ends the past tense of Arabic verbs for هُم?

In fact, alif ا does not mean anything particular and that differs it from the rest of the Arabic letters. It is a kind of a service letter, now it is a support for hamza, now it is written as a ...
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  • 15.4k
8 votes

Why was "zh" picked to represent /ʒ/, and where does it come from?

The practice was encouraged by the widespread use of C+h digraphs th,ph,ch and especially sh, allowing the analogy s:sh::z:zh. The modern spelling sh for [ʃ] derives from Old English sc, then sch or ...
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  • 66.7k
7 votes

Should I use square brackets or slashes when transcribing an oral text in IPA?

Since your stated goal is to compare someone's actual pronunciation with some standard pronunciation, you should use square brackets, to indicate that you are talking about actually pronounced sounds. ...
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  • 709
7 votes

Transform Chinese, Korean, Hebrew and Arabic to IPA

IPA is a representation of sound; therefore "transforming to IPA" implies converting text to sound. That task is harder than it seems, because writing systems are underdetermined – they don't include ...
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7 votes
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Why does Hebrew transcribe Akkadian š inconsistently?

While Akkadian š is generally cognate with Hebrew š or ś, there's good reason to believe its pronunciation was quite different! The reason it's transcribed as š is mostly historical—Akkadian was first ...
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7 votes
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What does 6 represent in Medieval Welsh?

It is obvious that 6 stands for the modern letter w which in Welsh can be pronounced in some words as the consonant [w] and in other words as vowels [ʊ] or [uː]. In your example there is the word ...
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7 votes
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What symbol, if any, signifies an audible nasal emission in the IPA?

I think what you're calling an audible nasal emission is just a voiceless nasal e.g. /m̥/, /n̥/, /ɳ̥/, & /ŋ̥/ (the diacritic here is not always well-rendered, but is a ring below). By definition, ...
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6 votes
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Do Azeri people actually use Ə instead of A in names?

This is an interesting question. As always with transliteration, there are compromises. Why do Azeris still transcribe their names if both the forms are written in Latin? I am aware that they used ...
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6 votes
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What are the IPA equivalents for the special characters used to transscribe indian words?

In the Wikipedia article on Sanskrit you can find all those special characters together with their IPA counterparts. By the way, these special characters are parts of the IAST, the International ...
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6 votes

Origin of Alphabetic/Phonemic Scripts

This may or may not be true, depending on what is meant by "ultimate source": are we talking about specific letter shapes, or just the abstract principle of an alphabet? If the former, no; if the ...
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6 votes

Differences between phonemic and phonetic transcriptions

Different linguists have different ideas about phonetic versus phonemic. Mine is one that I think is close to the original conception of Baudouin de Courtenay and his student Kruszewski (to whom we ...
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  • 12.3k
6 votes

What are the current hurdles to automatic audio to IPA transcription?

The most basic problem is that it is impossible (given any realistic i.e. non-Star Trek technology) to map waveforms to IPA letters for an arbitrary language. It is, however, possible for well-enough ...
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  • 66.7k
6 votes

Transform Chinese, Korean, Hebrew and Arabic to IPA

I'll deal with Korean writing. I don't know that there are any tools for directly converting the Korean writing system, hangeul, to IPA, but you can do it in several steps. You'll need some ...
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  • 1,484
6 votes

What is the phonetic transcription of the Lithuanian name Austėja?

I'd do it this way: [əʊ'stʲeja] (I like this variant more, but don't have any data to prove it) or [əʊs'tʲeja]. It is based on my knowledge of Lithuanian and this recording. It is differ from ...
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5 votes

To what extent can Japanese Kana be adapted to the Spanish language and be intelligible?

The phonology of Spanish might be vaguely similar to that of Japanese but the differences are also relevant. There are many consonantal clusters in Spanish and also word final consonants, and this ...
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5 votes
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Are there any sources that provide accurate IPA transcriptions for Danish?

Don't panic, your sources are great. The problem is that typically dictionaries use some sort of their own transcription, usually the one conventional for the given language. These transcriptions are ...
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5 votes
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Should I use square brackets or slashes when transcribing an oral text in IPA?

Short answer: use slashes. Slashes are used for phonemic transcriptions or for very approximate phonetic transcriptions, and brackets are used for phonetic transcriptions. A phonemic transcription ...
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  • 12.3k
5 votes

Are there any existing guidelines for romanizing Aynu Itak?

The de facto standard method for transcribing Ainu (both in Latin alphabet and in katakana) being used today is the one proposed in Akor Itak, a textbook published by the Hokkaido Utari Association (...
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  • 51
5 votes

Where to start with deciphering this language?

"How do you go about deciphering a language without any spoken basis, no native speakers to converse with, or another other leads to go on besides ones provided by context alone?" You don't. With ...
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