Monday, June 25, 2018

Type Out IPA Symbols with TypeIt

For those of us in the voice teaching and vocal coaching business, knowing the International Phonetic Alphabet is an essential part of understanding, talking about, and imparting the correct sounds of any language. But when we're at the computer, we often need a much wider set of symbols beyond the standard Mac and Windows shortcuts. Enter TypeIt, a handy site that allows you to quickly type out phonetic symbols in IPA! This is a godsend for those of us who need to type out IPA for class work, research, vocal pedagogy, or examining. Just type out the correct sequence of symbols that you need, cut and paste, and you're in business. On my voice exam routes last month in Alberta, PEI, and Nova Scotia, I always had a browser tab with TypeIt open, and this allowed me to quickly add the correct IPA symbols to my exam commentary for the benefit of students and teachers.

The default TypeIt page goes to the IPA English set. However, in the voice biz we're going to need English, French, Italian, and German at the very least. Therefore, I recommend that you bookmark the full IPA symbol set, with symbols across every language and easily accessible keyboard shortcuts (hover over a symbol to see it).

So the next time you're trying to win an online flame war about the correct German pronunciation of "nicht", you can easily enter either [nɪçt] or [niʃt] and prove your case.*


* The former is correct, in spite of several famous singers utilizing the latter (probably regional) pronunciation, particularly Wunderlich. A more reasonable explanation lies in the fact that idiomatic speakers aren't linguists, and that the pure vowels of the IPA don't always correspond to the exact vowels spoken by people of a specific region. For example, three North American pronouncing "back" will insist that they're saying the purest vowel, even though a Rochesterian will pronounce it [bek], a Hamiltonian the much darker [bɑk], and most other North Americans [bæk] (Southerners will even diphthongize or even triphthongize the vowel). Such are the vagaries of phonetic linguistics in the field of lyric diction.

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