This pronunciation guide explains IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) symbols. To hear examples of how IPA characters sound, visit the Seeing Speech project.

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.


  • i see, neat
  • ɪ pin, lick
  • e say, rain
  • ɛ ten, bread
  • æ mad, cat
  • a far, start
  • u pool, blue
  • o hole, toe
  • ʌ bus, mud
  • ɔ store, corn
  • y French tu, German müde (like u but with pursed lips)
  • ə believe, cinnamon (in an unstressed syllable)


  • p peach, apple
  • b ball, above
  • t tall, light
  • d dill, adore
  • k cave, ticket
  • g give, dig


  • f phone, raffle
  • v lively, love
  • θ thin, author
  • s passing, bus
  • z zebra, deposit
  • ʃ shell, ocean
  • h hill, ahead
  • x loch, challah


  • chip, ditch
  • dʒ adjoin, bridge


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


  • l lamb, ill
  • r rat, furry (but slightly trilled)
  • 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