Help:IPA/Old English

Throughout Wikipedia, the pronunciation of words is indicated by means of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). The following tables list the IPA symbols used for Old English words and pronunciations. Please note that several of these symbols are used in ways that are specific to Wikipedia and differ from those used by dictionaries.

If the IPA symbols are not displayed properly by your browser, see the link below.

IPA Examples Modern English approximation
b bysig, lamb, habban busy
ç niht, tǣhte[2] hue
d dōn, fæder, land, biddan do
sengan, ecg[3] edge
ð ōþer, eorþe[4] other
f fæder, ƿīf, offrian[4] father
ɡ gōd, gnætt, geong[3] good
h hēah, hǣlþ[2] heaven
j geong, nægl, ƿeg, gēa, bysig[3] year
k cyning, cnǣƿ, tusc, hnecca, axian[3][5] king
l lufu, hǣlþ, nægl leaf
ɫ feallan, eald, ƿlite[6] peal
hlāf, hlehhan[7] whispered leaf
m mōdor, magan, lamb mother
n nēah, cnēo, gnætt, land, habban, sunne near
hnutu, hnecca[7] whispered near
ŋ geong, drincan young
p pæþ path
r rǣdan, mōdor[8] read
eorþe, steorra, ƿrang[6][8] ruff
hring[7][8] whispered read
s sunne, missan, axian[4][5] sun
ʃ sceadu, fisc[3] shadow
t tīd, hƿæt, settan stand
cēace, ƿicce[3] cheese
v ofer, lufu[4] over
ɣ magan, lagu, dagum Spanish fuego
w[9] ƿīf, cƿic, cnǣƿ wife
ʍ hƿā, hƿæt[7] what (some speakers)
x hēah, þurh, hlehhan[2] loch (Scottish English)
z bys[4] busy
θ þæt, pæþ, hǣlþ, siþþan[4] through
IPA Examples Modern English approximation
ɑ axian, sceadu, hnecca[11] cot (American English)
ɑː ān, hlāf, hƿā father
æ æfter, fæder cat
æː ǣnig, hǣ dad
e ecg, fæder similar to late
ēþel similar to made
i ilca, cƿic, hālig feet
īsig, tīd need
o ofer, sceolde, heofon[11] thorn
ōþer, mōdor door
ø [example needed][12] turn
øː gemœ̄tan[12] blur
u under, geong, lufu[11] root
ūt mood
y scyld, yfel French tu
fȳr German Dürer
æɑ eald mouth (Cockney)
æːɑ ēage, nēah now (Cockney)
eo eorþe, heofon bed + rod
eːo ēoƿu, dēor snail (MLE)
iy siex[13] feet + French tu
iːy nīehst[13] need + French tu
IPA Examples Explanation
ˈ eorþe [ˈeorˠðe] stress mark (placed right before the stressed syllable)

See also change

  1. Old English had double consonants, which were pronounced longer than single consonants. Double consonants were written with double consonant letters. The double consonants in habban, missan can be translated in IPA with the length symbol ⟨ː⟩ or by doubling of the consonant symbol: [ˈhɑbːɑn], [ˈmisːɑn] or [ˈhɑbbɑn], [ˈmissɑn].
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 The phoneme /h/ had three allophones that diverged in the later language: it was pronounced [h] word-initially, [ç] when it was single and after a front vowel, and [x] otherwise.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 ⟨ċ ċġ sċ⟩, with a dot above, represent postalveolar /tʃ dʒ ʃ/ in modern renditions but not in the original manuscripts. ⟨ġ⟩ usually represents the palatal approximant /j/ but represents /dʒ/ after ⟨n⟩. /tʃ ʃ/ developed from /k sk/ by palatalization in Anglo-Frisian, but /dʒ j/ developed partly from Proto-Germanic Template:PIE and partly from the palatalization of /ɡ/. Here and in some modern texts, the palatal and postalveolar consonants are marked with a dot above the letter, but in old manuscripts they were written as ⟨c g sc⟩ and so were not distinguished from the velars [k ɡ ɣ] and the cluster [sk].
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 ⟨s f ð/þ⟩ represented voiceless fricatives [s f θ] at the beginning and the end of a word or when doubled in the middle but represented voiced fricatives [z v ð] when single, between voiced sounds.
  5. 5.0 5.1 ⟨x⟩ represented the cluster /ks/, as Modern English still does.
  6. 6.0 6.1 /r/ and /l/ probably had velarised allophones [rˠ] and [ɫ] before a consonant (except at the boundary in a compound word) and in some words in which they were geminated. The initial clusters written ⟨ƿr⟩ and ⟨ƿl⟩ also represented those sounds, and the distinction was then phonemic.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 The sonorants /r l n w/ had voiceless versions [l̥ r̥ n̥ ʍ], which developed from the earlier consonant clusters /xl xr xn xw/.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 The exact nature of the rhotic /r/ is unknown. It may have been a trill [r], a tap [ɾ] or, as in most dialects of Modern English, an approximant [ɹ] or [ɻ].
  9. The letter ⟨w⟩ did not exist in the Dark Ages, when Old English was spoken. Scribes used the borrowed Runic letter wynn, ⟨Ƿ ƿ⟩.
  10. Old English had a distinction between long and short vowels in stressed syllables. Long monophthongs are marked by placing the length symbol ⟨ː⟩ after the vowel symbol, and long diphthongs are marked by placing the length symbol after the first vowel symbol. In unstressed syllables, only three vowels /ɑ, e, u/ were distinguished, but /e, u/ were pronounced [i, o] in certain words.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Sometimes after the palatalized consonants ⟨ċ ġ sċ⟩, ⟨eo⟩ represented /u/ or /o/ and ⟨ea⟩ represented /ɑ/.
  12. 12.0 12.1 /ø øː/ occurred in Anglian dialects but merged with /e eː/ in all others.
  13. 13.0 13.1 The diphthongs ⟨ie īe⟩ occurred in West Saxon and may have been pronounced /ie iːe/ or /iy iːy/.