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The International Phonetic Association

The International Phonetic Association Logo

The IPA Logo

The International Phonetic Association or IPA is the major as well as the oldest representative organization for phoneticians. It was established in 1886 in Paris.

The aim of the IPA is to promote the scientific study of phonetics and the various practical applications of that science.

One of the major contributions of the IPA to the world of linguistics has been the International Phonetic Alphabet or IPA (see below for links).

(Note that IPA as an acronym stands for both the organization as well as the alphabet.)

The IPA also offers examinations in phonetics awarding Certificates of Proficiency in the phonetics of English, French, or German.

Fees to join the IPA are €45 for full membership, €22.50 for students. Benefits include receiving print editions of new editions of the renowned IPA Journal along with online access to past issues back to 1971.

The IPA Journal

The IPA regularly publish the IPA Journal which is available online through subscription. Formerly entitled Le Maître Phonétique it has been published (with breaks) since 1896.

In November 2000, a contract was signed with Cambridge University Press to publish the Journal of the International Phonetic Association. CUP holds the copyright on behalf of the IPA.

The December 2014 edition includes articles such as:

  • Durational properties of emphatically lengthened consonants in Japanese
  • Revisiting Mandarin ‘apical vowels’: An articulatory and acoustic study
  • Measuring incompleteness: Acoustic correlates of glottal articulations

One can thus conclude the journal is not for the faint-hearted.

Brief History of the IPA

In 1886 in Paris a small group of linguists got together to help encourage the use of special notation so that school children could more easily learn the correct pronunciation of foreign languages.

It was originally called Dhi Fonètik Tîcerz’ Asóciécon or The Phonetic Teachers Association however it changed its name a couple of times until in 1897 it was renamed L’Association Phonétique Internationale or API which in English is the International Phonetic Association or IPA.

Membership of the IPA peaked in the early part of the 20th century when in 1914 it had 1,751 members in 40 countries. However, it declined during and following the First World War and the association essentially went into hibernation till the early 1920s.

Useful Links

IPA – International Phonetic Alphabet – a look at the alphabet

Official Website – of the IPA

Journal of the IPA

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