Pronunciation

This pronunciation guide explains IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) symbols. It’s based on ‘IPA symbols and speech sounds’ in Essentials of Linguistics, by Catherine Anderson (2018), Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0).

The high-set stress mark ( ˈ ) precedes syllables with primary (strongest) stress. The low-set stress mark ( ˌ ) precedes syllables with secondary (medium) stress. The triangular colon ( ː ) indicates a longer vowel sound.

A diphthong is a speech sound that combines two vowels in one syllable. For example, modE ‘toy’ (one syllable) has a diphthong, but ‘chaos’ (two syllables) does not. When there is no hyphen between a pair of vowels, this indicates a diphthong.

Vowels

  • i see, neat, piece
  • ɪ pin, bit, lick
  • e say, place, rain
  • ɛ ten, said, bread
  • æ mad, cat, fan
  • a far, start
  • u pool, blue
  • o throw, hole, toe
  • ʌ bus, mud, lunch
  • ɔ store, corn
  • ɝ bird, fur
  • ə believe, cinnamon, surround (in an unstressed syllable)

Stops

  • p peach, apple, cap
  • b bill, above, rib
  • t tall, internal, light
  • d dill, adore, kid
  • k cave, ticket, luck
  • g give, baggage, dig

Fricatives

  • f phone, raffle, leaf
  • v lively, love
  • θ thin, author, bath
  • s celery, passing, bus
  • z zebra, deposit
  • ʃ shell, ocean
  • h hill, ahead

Affricates

  • chip, ditch
  • dʒ adjoin, bridge

Nasals

  • m mill, hammer, broom
  • n nickel, sunny, spoon
  • ŋ singer, wrong

Approximants

  • l lamb
  • ɹ robot, furry, star
  • j yellow, royal
  • w winter, flower

If you want to learn more about how to pronounce Old English words, here are some helpful resources:

  • R. Marsden, The Cambridge Old English Reader, 2nd edn (2015)
  • B. Mitchell and F. C. Robinson, A Guide to Old English, 8th edn (2011)
  • P. Baker, Introduction to Old English, 3rd edn (2012)
  • Þæt Eald-Ænglisce Blog