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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 University College London.[1] It is designed to unify the individual language SAMPA alphabets, and extend SAMPA to cover the entire range of characters in the 1993 version of 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.



  • 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, such X-SAMPA symbols do not work in EMU, so backslashes must be replaced with some other symbol (e.g., an asterisk: '*') when adding phonemic transcription to an EMU speech database. The backslash has no fixed meaning.
  • 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: k_p codes for /k͡p/.
  • The numbers _1 to _6 are reserved diacritics as shorthand for language-specific tone numbers.
  • The IETF language tags registry has assigned fonxsamp as the subtag for text transcribed in X-SAMPA.[2]

Lower-case symbols

X-SAMPA IPA IPA image Description Examples
a a open front unrounded vowel French dame [dam]
b b voiced bilabial plosive English bed [bEd], French bon [bO~]
b_< ɓ voiced bilabial implosive Sindhi ɓarʊ [b_<arU]
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_<arU]
e e close-mid front unrounded vowel French blé [ble]
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 skip [skIp], Spanish carro ["karo]
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 Wayuu püülükü [pM:l\MkM]
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 rn [h2:n`]
o o close-mid back rounded vowel French veau [vo]
p p voiceless bilabial plosive English speak [spik], French pose [poz], Spanish perro ["pero]
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 ["pero]
r` ɽ retroflex flap Bengali gari [gar`i:]
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'ers`ts`]
t t voiceless alveolar plosive English stew [stju:], French raté [Ra"te]
t` ʈ voiceless retroflex plosive Swedish rt [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 [mE:m], 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]
G\ ɢ voiced uvular plosive Inuktitut nirivvik [niG\ivvik]
G\_< ʛ voiced uvular implosive Mam ʛa [G\_<a]
H ɥ labial-palatal approximant French huit [Hit]
H\ ʜ voiceless epiglottal fricative Agul мехӀ [mEH\]
I ɪ near-close front unrounded vowel English kit [kIt]
I\ near-close central unrounded vowel (non-IPA) 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\_<aro]
K ɬ voiceless alveolar lateral fricative Welsh llaw [KaU]
K\ ɮ voiced alveolar lateral fricative Mongolian долоо [tOK\O:]
L ʎ palatal lateral approximant Italian famiglia [fa"miLLa], Castilian: llamar [La"mar]
L\ ʟ velar lateral approximant Korean 구지 [t6L\gudz\i]
M ɯ close back unrounded vowel Korean [M:ms\_hik_}]
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 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 back rounded vowel English foot [fUt]
U\ ᵿ near-close central rounded vowel (non-IPA) English euphoria [jU\"fO@r\i@]
V ʌ open-mid back unrounded vowel Scottish 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 āʾ [X\A:]
Y ʏ near-close 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 American English pronunciation [pr\"eI.S@n]
' (or _j) ʲ palatalized Russian Земля (Earth) [z'I"ml'a] or [z_jI"ml_ja]
: 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]
@` ɚ r-coloured schwa American English color ["kVl@`]
{ 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 Cockney English bottle ["bQ?o]
?\ ʕ voiced pharyngeal fricative Arabic ع ʿayn [?\Ajn]
*   undefined escape character, SAMPA's "conjunctor"  
/ / (a) French vowel archiphonemes or indeterminacies
(b) delimiter of phonemic transcriptions
maison /mE/zO~/
< begin nonsegmental notation, e.g., SAMPROSA[3]  
<\ ʢ voiced epiglottal fricative Siwi arˤbˤəʢa (four) [ar_?\b_?\@<\a]
> end nonsegmental notation  
>\ ʡ epiglottal plosive Archi гӀарз (complaint) [>\arz]
^ upstep  
! downstep  
!\ ǃ postalveolar click Zulu iqaqa (polecat) [i:!\a:!\a]
| | minor (foot) group  
|\ ǀ dental click Zulu icici (earring) [i:|\i:|\i]
|| major (intonation) group  
|\|\ ǁ alveolar lateral click Zulu xoxa (to converse) [|\|\O:|\|\a]
=\ 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
<F> 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
<R> 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\    *    *    *
  • Asterisks (*) mark sounds that do not have X-SAMPA symbols. Daggers (†) mark IPA symbols that have recently been added to Unicode. Since April 2008, the latter is the case of the labiodental flap, symbolized by a right-hook v in the IPA: . A convention 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
!\ Apical (post-) alveolar ("retroflex") J\_< Palatal t_> Alveolar
=\ Laminal postalveolar ("palatal") g_< Velar k_> Velar
|\|\ Lateral coronal ("lateral") G\_< Uvular s_> Alveolar fricative


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

See also


  1. ^ Wells, J.C. "Computer-coding the IPA: a proposed extension of SAMPA" (PDF). UCL Phonetics and Linguistics. University College London. Retrieved 16 March 2016.
  2. ^ "Language Subtag Registry" (text). IETF. 2022-08-08. Retrieved 12 November 2022.
  3. ^ For a summary of SAMPROSA, see Wells, J.C. (19 September 1995). "SAMPROSA (SAM Prosodic Transcription)". UCL Phonetics and Linguistics. University College London. Retrieved 23 October 2021.
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