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The Extended Speech Assessment Methods Phonetic Alphabet (X-SAMPA) is a variant of SAMPA developed in 1995 by John C. Wells, professor of phonetics at the University of London. It is designed to unify the individual language SAMPA alphabets, and extend SAMPA to cover the entire range of characters in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). The result is a SAMPA-inspired remapping of the IPA into 7-bit ASCII.

SAMPA was devised as a hack to work around the inability of text encodings to represent IPA symbols. Later, as Unicode support for IPA symbols became more widespread, the necessity for a separate, computer-readable system for representing the IPA in ASCII decreased. However, X-SAMPA is still useful as the basis for an input method for true IPA.


  • Summary 1
    • Notes 1.1
    • Lower case symbols 1.2
    • Capital symbols 1.3
    • Other symbols 1.4
    • Diacritics 1.5
  • Charts 2
    • Consonants 2.1
    • Vowels 2.2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5



  • The IPA symbols that are ordinary lower-case letters have the same value in X-SAMPA as they do in the IPA.
  • X-SAMPA uses backslashes as modifying suffixes to create new symbols. For example O is a distinct sound from O\, to which it bears no relation. Such use of the backslash character can be a problem, since many programs interpret it as an escape character for the character following it. For example, you cannot use such X-SAMPA symbols in EMU, therefore you need to replace backslash with some other symbol (e.g. an asterisk: '*') when adding phonemic transcription to an EMU speech database.
  • X-SAMPA diacritics follow the symbols they modify. Except for ~ for nasalization, = for syllabicity, and ` for retroflexion and rhotacization, diacritics are joined to the character with the underscore character _.
  • The underscore character is also used to encode the IPA tiebar.
  • The numbers _1 to _6 are reserved diacritics as shorthand for language-specific tone numbers.

Lower case symbols

X-SAMPA IPA IPA image Description Examples
a a open front unrounded vowel French dame [dam], Spanish padre ["paD4e]
b b voiced bilabial plosive English bed [bEd], French bon [bO~]
b_< ɓ voiced bilabial implosive Sindhi ɓarʊ [b_]
c c voiceless palatal plosive Hungarian latyak ["lQcQk]
d d voiced alveolar plosive English dig [dIg], French doigt [dwa]
d` ɖ voiced retroflex plosive Swedish hord [hu:d`]
d_< ɗ voiced alveolar implosive Sindhi ɗarʊ [d_]
e e close-mid front unrounded vowel French ses [se], American English mate [met]
f f voiceless labiodental fricative English five [faIv], French femme [fam]
g ɡ voiced velar plosive English game [geIm], French longue [lO~g]
g_< ɠ voiced velar implosive Sindhi ɠəro [g_<@ro]
h h voiceless glottal fricative English house [haUs]
h\ ɦ voiced glottal fricative Czech hrad [h\rat]
i i close front unrounded vowel English be [bi:], French oui [wi], Spanish si [si]
j j palatal approximant English yes [jEs], French yeux [j2]
j\ ʝ voiced palatal fricative Greek γειά [j\a]
k k voiceless velar plosive English scat [sk{t], Spanish carro ["kar:o]
l l alveolar lateral approximant English lay [leI], French mal [mal]
l` ɭ retroflex lateral approximant Svealand Swedish sorl [so:l`]
l\ ɺ alveolar lateral flap Japanese rakuten [l\akM_0teN\]
m m bilabial nasal English mouse [maUs], French homme [Om]
n n alveolar nasal English nap [n{p], French non [nO~]
n` ɳ retroflex nasal Swedish hörn [h2:n`]
o o close-mid back rounded vowel French gros [gRo]
p p voiceless bilabial plosive English speak [spik], French pose [poz], Spanish perro ["per:o]
p\ ɸ voiceless bilabial fricative Japanese fuku [p\M_0kM]
q q voiceless uvular plosive Arabic qasbah ["qQs_Gba]
r r alveolar trill Spanish perro ["per:o]
r` ɽ retroflex flap  
r\ ɹ alveolar approximant English red [r\Ed]
r\` ɻ retroflex approximant Malayalam വഴി ["v@r\`i]
s s voiceless alveolar fricative English seem [si:m], French session [se"sjO~]
s` ʂ voiceless retroflex fricative Swedish mars [mas`]
s\ ɕ voiceless alveolo-palatal fricative Polish świerszcz [s\v'erStS]
t t voiceless alveolar plosive English stew [stju:], French raté [Ra"te], Spanish tuyo ["tujo]
t` ʈ voiceless retroflex plosive Swedish mört [m2t`]
u u close back rounded vowel English boom [bu:m], Spanish su [su]
v v voiced labiodental fricative English vest [vEst], French voix [vwa]
v\ (or P) ʋ labiodental approximant Dutch west [v\Est]/[PEst]
w w labial-velar approximant English west [wEst], French oui [wi]
x x voiceless velar fricative Scots loch [lOx] or [5Ox]; German Buch, Dach; Spanish caja, gestión
x\ ɧ voiceless palatal-velar fricative Swedish sjal [x\A:l]
y y close front rounded vowel French tu [ty] German über ["y:b6]
z z voiced alveolar fricative English zoo [zu:], French azote [a"zOt]
z` ʐ voiced retroflex fricative Mandarin Chinese rang [z`aN]
z\ ʑ voiced alveolo-palatal fricative Polish źrebak ["z\rEbak]

Capital symbols

X-SAMPA IPA IPA image Description Example
A ɑ open back unrounded vowel English father ["fA:D@(r\)] (RP and Gen.Am.)
B β voiced bilabial fricative Spanish lavar [la"Ba4]
B\ ʙ bilabial trill Reminiscent of shivering ("brrr")
C ç voiceless palatal fricative German ich [IC], English human ["Cjum@n] (broad transcription uses [hj-])
D ð voiced dental fricative English then [DEn]
E ɛ open-mid front unrounded vowel French même [mEm], English met [mEt] (RP and Gen.Am.)
F ɱ labiodental nasal English emphasis ["EFf@sIs] (spoken quickly, otherwise uses [Emf-])
G ɣ voiced velar fricative Greek γωνία [Go"nia], Danish vælge ["vElG@]
G\ ɢ voiced uvular plosive Inuktitut nirivvik [niG\ivvik]
G\_< ʛ voiced uvular implosive Mam ʛa [G\_]
H ɥ labial-palatal approximant French huit [Hit]
H\ ʜ voiceless epiglottal fricative  
I ɪ near-close near-front unrounded vowel English kit [kIt]
I\ or ɪ̈   near-close central unrounded vowel Polish ryba [rI\bA
J ɲ palatal nasal Spanish año ["aJo], English canyon ["k{J@n] (broad transcription uses [-nj-])
J\ ɟ voiced palatal plosive Hungarian egy [EJ\]
J\_< ʄ voiced palatal implosive Sindhi ʄaro [J\_]
K ɬ voiceless alveolar lateral fricative Welsh llaw [KaU]
K\ ɮ voiced alveolar lateral fricative  
L ʎ palatal lateral approximant Italian famiglia [fa"miLLa], Castilian llamar [La"mar], English million ["mIL@n] (broad transcription uses [-lj-])
L\ ʟ velar lateral approximant
M ɯ close back unrounded vowel Korean (eu)
M\ ɰ velar approximant Spanish fuego ["fweM\o]
N ŋ velar nasal English thing [TIN]
N\ ɴ uvular nasal Japanese san [saN\]
O ɔ open-mid back rounded vowel RP thought [TO:t], American English off [O:f]
O\ ʘ bilabial click  
P (or v\) ʋ labiodental approximant Dutch west [PEst]/[v\Est], allophone of English phoneme /r\/
Q ɒ open back rounded vowel RP lot [lQt]
R ʁ voiced uvular fricative German rein [RaIn]
R\ ʀ uvular trill French roi [R\wa]
S ʃ voiceless postalveolar fricative English ship [SIp]
T θ voiceless dental fricative English thin [TIn]
U ʊ near-close near-back rounded vowel English foot [fUt]
U\ ᵿ or ʊ̈ near-close central rounded vowel English euphoria [jU\"fO@r\i@]
V ʌ open-mid back unrounded vowel RP English strut [str\Vt]
W ʍ voiceless labial-velar fricative Scots when [WEn]
X χ voiceless uvular fricative Klallam sχaʔqʷaʔ [sXa?q_wa?]
X\ ħ voiceless pharyngeal fricative Arabic <ح>ha’ [X\A:]
Y ʏ near-close near-front rounded vowel German hübsch [hYpS]
Z ʒ voiced postalveolar fricative English vision ["vIZ@n]

Other symbols

X-SAMPA IPA IPA image Description Example
. . syllable break  
" ˈ primary stress  
% ˌ secondary stress  
' (or _j) ʲ palatalized  
: ː long  
:\ ˑ half long Estonian differentiates three vowel lengths
-   separator Polish trzy [t-S1] vs. czy [tS1] (affricate)
@ ə schwa English arena [@"r\i:n@]
@\ ɘ close-mid central unrounded vowel Paicĩ kɘ̄ɾɘ [k@\_M4@\_M]
{ æ near-open front unrounded vowel English trap [tr\{p]
} ʉ close central rounded vowel Swedish sju [x\}:]; AuE/NZE boot [b}:t]
1 ɨ close central unrounded vowel Welsh tu [t1], American English rose's ["r\oUz1z]
2 ø close-mid front rounded vowel Danish købe ["k2:b@], French deux [d2]
3 ɜ open-mid central unrounded vowel English nurse [n3:s] (RP) or [n3`s] (Gen.Am.)
3\ ɞ open-mid central rounded vowel Irish tomhail[t3\:l']
4 ɾ alveolar flap Spanish pero ["pe4o], American English better ["bE4@`]
5 ɫ velarized alveolar lateral approximant; also see _e English milk [mI5k], Portuguese livro ["5iv4u]
6 ɐ near-open central vowel German besser ["bEs6], Australian English mud [m6d]
7 ɤ close-mid back unrounded vowel Estonian kõik [k7ik], Vietnamese mơ [m7_M]
8 ɵ close-mid central rounded vowel Swedish buss [b8s]
9 œ open-mid front rounded vowel French neuf [n9f], Danish drømme [dR9m@]
& ɶ open front rounded vowel Swedish skörd [x\&d`]
? ʔ glottal stop Danish stød [sd2?], Cockney English bottle ["bQ?l]
?\ ʕ voiced pharyngeal fricative Arabic ع (`ayn) [?\Ajn]
*   undefined escape character, SAMPA's "conjunctor"  
/   indeterminacy in French vowels  
<   begin nonsegmental notation (e.g., SAMPROSA)  
<\ ʢ voiced epiglottal fricative  
>   end nonsegmental notation  
>\ ʡ epiglottal plosive  
^ upstep  
! downstep  
!\ ǃ postalveolar click  
| | minor (foot) group  
|\ ǀ dental click  
|| major (intonation) group  
|\|\ ǁ alveolar lateral click  
=\ ǂ palatal click  
-\ linking mark  


X-SAMPA IPA IPA image Description
_"   ̈ centralized
_+   ̟ advanced
_-   ̠ retracted
_/ ̌ rising tone
_0   ̥ voiceless
_<   implosive (IPA uses separate symbols for implosives)
= (or _=)   ̩ syllabic
_> ʼ ejective
_?\ ˤ pharyngealized
_\ ̂   falling tone
_^   ̯ non-syllabic
_}   ̚ no audible release
` ˞ rhotacization in vowels, retroflexion in consonants (IPA uses separate symbols for consonants, see t` for an example)
~ (or _~)   ̃ nasalization
_A   ̘ advanced tongue root
_a   ̺ apical
_B   ̏ extra low tone
_B_L  ᷅ low rising tone
_c   ̜ less rounded
_d   ̪ dental
_e   ̴ velarized or pharyngealized; also see 5
global fall
_F   ̂ falling tone
_G ˠ velarized
_H   ́ high tone
_H_T  ᷄ high rising tone
_h ʰ aspirated
_j (or ') ʲ palatalized
_k   ̰ creaky voice
_L   ̀ low tone
_l ˡ lateral release
_M   ̄ mid tone
_m   ̻ laminal
_N   ̼ linguolabial
_n nasal release
_O   ̹ more rounded
_o   ̞ lowered
_q   ̙ retracted tongue root
global rise
_R   ̌ rising tone
_R_F  ᷈ rising falling tone
_r   ̝ raised
_T   ̋ extra high tone
_t   ̤ breathy voice
_v   ̬ voiced
_w ʷ labialized
_X   ̆ extra-short
_x   ̽ mid-centralized



Consonants (pulmonic)
Place of articulation Labial Coronal Dorsal Laryngeal
Manner of articulation Bilabial Labio‐
Dental Alveolar Post‐
Palatal Velar Uvular Pharyn‐
Nasal    m    F    n    n`    J    N    N\  
Plosive p b p_d b_d t d t` d` c J\ k g q G\   >\ ?  
Fricative p\ B f v T D s z S Z s` z` C j\ x G X R X\ ?\ H\ <\ h h\
Approximant    B_o    v\    r\    r\`    j    M\      
Trill    B\    r    *    R\    *  
Tap or Flap    *    *    4    r`          *  
Lateral Fricative K K\ *    *    *       
Lateral Approximant    l    l`    L    L\  
Lateral Flap      l\    *    *    *    
  • Daggers (†) mark IPA symbols that have recently been added to Unicode. Since April 2008, this is the case of the labiodental flap, symbolized by a right-hook v in the IPA: Labiodental flap A dedicated symbol for the labiodental flap does not yet exist in X-SAMPA.
W Voiceless labialized velar approximant
w Voiced labialized velar approximant
H Voiced labialized palatal approximant
s\ Voiceless palatalized postalveolar (alveolo-palatal) fricative
z\ Voiced palatalized postalveolar (alveolo-palatal) fricative
x\ Voiceless "palatal-velar" fricative
Affricates and double articulation
ts voiceless alveolar affricate
dz voiced alveolar affricate
tS voiceless postalveolar affricate
dZ voiced postalveolar affricate
ts\ voiceless alveolo-palatal affricate
dz\ voiced alveolo-palatal affricate
tK voiceless alveolar lateral affricate
kp voiceless labial-velar plosive
gb voiced labial-velar plosive
Nm labial-velar nasal stop
Consonants (non-pulmonic)
Clicks Implosives Ejectives
O\ Bilabial b_< Bilabial _> For example:
|\ Laminal alveolar ("dental") d_< Alveolar p_> Bilabial
ǃ\ Apical (post-) alveolar ("retroflex") J\_< Palatal t_> Alveolar
=\ Laminal postalveolar ("palatal") g_< Velar k_> Velar
|\|\ Lateral coronal ("lateral") G\_< Uvular s_> Alveolar fricative


Front Near-front Central Near-back Back
i • y
1 • }
M • u
I • Y
I\ • U\
• U
e • 2
@\ • 8
7 • o
E • 9
3 • 3\
V • O
{ •
a • &
A • Q

See also


External links

  • Computer-coding the IPA: A proposed extension of SAMPA
  • Translate English texts into IPA phonetics with PhoTransEdit. This free software tool allows to export transcriptions to X-SAMPA.
  • Online converter between IPA and X-Sampa
  • Web-based translator for X-SAMPA documents. Produces Unicode text, XML text, PostScript, PDF, or LaTeX TIPA.
  • Z-SAMPA, an extension of X-SAMPA sometimes used for conlangs
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