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  • Mandi Schaumburg

Orange You Glad I know IPA?

I thought I would share a post I did last year on IPA day and to kick off Better Speech and Hearing Month! Originally shared 4/29/2015

IPA- International Phonemic Alphabet.

Speech pathologists have to learn IPA and know it (it's like learning another language)! It's what we use to transcribe speech samples and analyze speech sound disorders. Every sound has a symbol and we write in IPA to show how a person is producing a sound or word. For example: if a child is unable to produce the 'k' or 'c' sound they would say "tat" instead of "cat." The IPA transcription would be /tæt/ (cat would be /kæt/). This is important to determine what type of speech sound disorder is present.

'Speech Pathologist' would be transcribed /spitʃ pæθɑlədʒəst/

Last year I got to chime in with my IPA knowledge on a friends Facebook thred (I know...I'm a nerd)! My friend was explaining that his wife said the word orange wrong. He announced that she said "ornge" in one syllable, which would be transcribed as /ɔrndʒ/. There was a lengthy debate and numerous of comments from others telling how they say it and if her way was acceptable or not! I couldn't help but give them my professional insight and I shared the following photo to show two common transcriptions of the word orange.

(photo is s screenshot from the app Soundable, an IPA word challenge game)

The 1st one sounds like this: "or-uhnge"

The 2nd one sounds like this: "or-ihnge

So technically his wife wasn't saying it correctly, she was reducing the two syllable word to one. is one of those words in our language that differs between dialects and regions. Some pronounce it as one syllable (common in the south) and some produce it with two distinct syllables. I mentioned to my friend that he had to give his wife a break because "ornge" is simply a dialectical difference! (As speech pathologists we don't treat differences, we treat disorders!!)

It's not everyday that I get to use my speech pathology knowledge on a friends Facebook thred! It was amusing for me! Fellow SLPs can relate!

Leave a comment with a dialectical difference you have heard or use and I'll respond with the IPA transcription!!!

For my SLP friends who love IPA, check out this fun app Soundable by Tactus Therapy Solutions and Lesson Pix! Available in the App Store for FREE! Create a username and email it to me at and we can play each other!!!! (or search: mandischaumburg in the app). You can also join their user Facebook page! It's fun and it keeps you on top of your IPA skills! It is great for graduate students!


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