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What is the International Phonetic Alphabet?
by Kevin Stuckey, M.Ed., CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) evaluate a child’s speech production to identify specific sound disorders. When recording assessment data, SLPs transcribe the child’s speech using symbols of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) to accurately identify the specific sounds and words produced. The IPA is a universal system of symbols representing specific sounds of language.
When analyzing a child’s speech, the IPA symbols provide a more accurate description of the sounds the child produces in words. Many of the speech sounds are a direct representation of the letter. For example, the sound of the letter “p” in the word “pay” corresponds with the IPA symbol /p/. However, some letters are produced differently, such as the letter “c” in the words “cat” and “cereal.” Different IPA symbols are used for each of these (/k/ for cat and /s/ for cereal). The standardized IPA symbols provide clarity in order to target the specific speech sound in error and develop articulation goals accordingly.
The following is a list of common IPA symbols used by Speech-Language Pathologists:
“International Phonetic Alphabet.” Accessed March 8, 2023.
“International Phonetic Alphabet.” Lexilogos. Accessed March 8, 2023.
“Phonetics: What is IPA?” Global Speech Therapy. Accessed March 8, 2023.
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