The phonetic alphabet, specifically the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), is a system of notation for the sounds of languages created by linguists. Unlike conventional written alphabets, which vary across languages and can have inconsistent mappings of symbols to sounds, the IPA is designed to provide a consistent and universally understood means of transcribing the sounds of any spoken language.
Each symbol in the IPA corresponds to a specific sound, or phoneme, making it possible to accurately represent the pronunciation of words from any language in a way that can be understood regardless of the reader’s native language or dialect. The IPA covers a wide range of sounds, including vowels, consonants, and tonal notations. It’s used worldwide in language teaching and learning, linguistics, phonology, phonetics, and speech-language pathology.