The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is a system of phonetic notation based on the Latin alphabet, devised by the International Phonetic Association as a standardized representation of the sounds of spoken language. The IPA is used by foreign language students and teachers, linguists, speech pathologists and therapists, singers, actors, lexicographers, and translators.
The IPA is designed to represent only those qualities of speech that are distinctive in spoken language: phonemes, intonation, and the separation of words and syllables. To represent additional qualities of speech such as tooth-gnashing, lisping, and sounds made with a cleft palate, an extended set of symbols called the Extensions to the IPA is used.
Occasionally symbols are added, removed, or modified by the International Phonetic Association. As of 2008, there are 107 distinct letters, 52 diacritics, and 4 prosody marks in the IPA proper.
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