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 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.
  • 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.
  • The numbers _1 to _6 are reserved diacritics as shorthand for language-specific tone numbers.

Lower case symbols

X-SAMPAIPAIPA imageDescriptionExamples
aaopen front unrounded vowelFrench dame [dam]
bbvoiced bilabial plosiveEnglish bed [bEd], French bon [bO~]
b_<ɓvoiced bilabial implosiveSindhi ɓarʊ [b_<arU]
ccvoiceless palatal plosiveHungarian latyak ["lQcQk]
ddvoiced alveolar plosiveEnglish dig [dIg], French doigt [dwa]
d`ɖvoiced retroflex plosiveSwedish hord [hu:d`]
d_<ɗvoiced alveolar implosiveSindhi ɗarʊ [d_<arU]
eeclose-mid front unrounded vowelFrench ses [se]
ffvoiceless labiodental fricativeEnglish five [faIv], French femme [fam]
gɡvoiced velar plosiveEnglish game [geIm], French longue [lO~g]
g_<ɠvoiced velar implosiveSindhi ɠəro [g_<@ro]
hhvoiceless glottal fricativeEnglish house [haUs]
h\ɦvoiced glottal fricativeCzech hrad [h\rat]
iiclose front unrounded vowelEnglish be [bi:], French oui [wi], Spanish si [si]
jjpalatal approximantEnglish yes [jEs], French yeux [j2]
j\ʝvoiced palatal fricativeGreek γειά [j\a]
kkvoiceless velar plosiveEnglish scat [sk{t], Spanish carro ["karo]
llalveolar lateral approximantEnglish lay [leI], French mal [mal]
l`ɭretroflex lateral approximantSvealand Swedish sorl [so:l`]
l\ɺalveolar lateral flapWayuu püülükü [pM:l\MkM]
mmbilabial nasalEnglish mouse [maUs], French homme [Om]
nnalveolar nasalEnglish nap [n{p], French non [nO~]
n`ɳretroflex nasalSwedish hörn [h2:n`]
ooclose-mid back rounded vowelFrench gros [gRo]
ppvoiceless bilabial plosiveEnglish speak [spik], French pose [poz], Spanish perro ["pero]
p\ɸvoiceless bilabial fricativeJapanese fuku [p\M_0kM]
qqvoiceless uvular plosiveArabic qasbah ["qQs_Gba]
rralveolar trillSpanish perro ["pero]
r`ɽretroflex flapBengali gari [gar`i:]
r\ɹalveolar approximantEnglish red [r\Ed]
r\`ɻretroflex approximantMalayalam വഴി ["v@r\`i]
ssvoiceless alveolar fricativeEnglish seem [si:m], French session [se"sjO~]
s`ʂvoiceless retroflex fricativeSwedish mars [mas`]
s\ɕvoiceless alveolo-palatal fricativePolish świerszcz [s\v'erStS]
ttvoiceless alveolar plosiveEnglish stew [stju:], French raté [Ra"te]
t`ʈvoiceless retroflex plosiveSwedish mört [m2t`]
uuclose back rounded vowelEnglish boom [bu:m], Spanish su [su]
vvvoiced labiodental fricativeEnglish vest [vEst], French voix [vwa]
v\ (or P)ʋlabiodental approximantDutch west [v\Est]/[PEst]
wwlabial-velar approximantEnglish west [wEst], French oui [wi]
xxvoiceless velar fricativeScots loch [lOx] or [5Ox]; German Buch, Dach; Spanish caja, gestión
x\ɧvoiceless palatal-velar fricativeSwedish sjal [x\A:l]
yyclose front rounded vowelFrench tu [ty] German über ["y:b6]
zzvoiced alveolar fricativeEnglish zoo [zu:], French azote [a"zOt]
z`ʐvoiced retroflex fricativeMandarin Chinese rang [z`aN]
z\ʑvoiced alveolo-palatal fricativePolish źrebak ["z\rEbak]

Capital symbols

X-SAMPAIPAIPA imageDescriptionExample
Aɑopen back unrounded vowelEnglish father ["fA:D@(r\)] (RP and Gen.Am.)
Bβvoiced bilabial fricativeSpanish lavar [la"Ba4]
B\ʙbilabial trillReminiscent of shivering ("brrr")
Cçvoiceless palatal fricativeGerman ich [IC], English human ["Cjum@n] (broad transcription uses [hj-])
Dðvoiced dental fricativeEnglish then [DEn]
Eɛopen-mid front unrounded vowelFrench même [mEm], English met [mEt] (RP and Gen.Am.)
Fɱlabiodental nasalEnglish emphasis ["EFf@sIs] (spoken quickly, otherwise uses [Emf-])
Gɣvoiced velar fricativeGreek γωνία [Go"nia]
G\ɢvoiced uvular plosiveInuktitut nirivvik [niG\ivvik]
G\_<ʛvoiced uvular implosiveMam ʛa [G\_<a]
Hɥlabial-palatal approximantFrench huit [Hit]
H\ʜvoiceless epiglottal fricative 
Iɪnear-close front unrounded vowelEnglish kit [kIt]
I\ near-close central unrounded vowel (non-IPA)Polish ryba [rI\bA] 
Jɲpalatal nasalSpanish año ["aJo], English canyon ["k{J@n] (broad transcription uses [-nj-])
J\ɟvoiced palatal plosiveHungarian egy [EJ\]
J\_<ʄvoiced palatal implosiveSindhi ʄaro [J\_<aro]
Kɬvoiceless alveolar lateral fricativeWelsh llaw [KaU]
K\ɮvoiced alveolar lateral fricativeMongolian долоо [tOK\O:]
Lʎpalatal lateral approximantItalian famiglia [fa"miLLa], Castilian llamar [La"mar]
L\ʟvelar lateral approximant
Mɯclose back unrounded vowelKorean [M:ms\_hik_}]
M\ɰvelar approximantSpanish fuego ["fweM\o]
Nŋvelar nasalEnglish thing [TIN]
N\ɴuvular nasalJapanese san [saN\]
Oɔopen-mid back rounded vowelAmerican English off [O:f]
O\ʘbilabial click 
P (or v\)ʋlabiodental approximantDutch west [PEst]/[v\Est], allophone of English phoneme /r\/
Qɒopen back rounded vowelRP lot [lQt]
Rʁvoiced uvular fricativeGerman rein [RaIn]
R\ʀuvular trillFrench roi [R\wa]
Sʃvoiceless postalveolar fricativeEnglish ship [SIp]
Tθvoiceless dental fricativeEnglish thin [TIn]
Uʊnear-close back rounded vowelEnglish foot [fUt]
U\ᵿnear-close central rounded vowel (non-IPA)English euphoria [jU\"fO@r\i@]
Vʌopen-mid back unrounded vowelScottish English strut [str\Vt]
Wʍvoiceless labial-velar fricativeScots when [WEn]
Xχvoiceless uvular fricativeKlallam sχaʔqʷaʔ [sXa?q_wa?]
X\ħvoiceless pharyngeal fricativeArabic <ح>ha’ [X\A:]
Yʏnear-close front rounded vowelGerman hübsch [hYpS]
Zʒvoiced postalveolar fricativeEnglish vision ["vIZ@n]

Other symbols

X-SAMPAIPAIPA imageDescriptionExample
..syllable break 
"ˈprimary stress 
%ˌsecondary stress 
' (or _j)ʲpalatalized 
:\ˑhalf longEstonian differentiates three vowel lengths
- separatorPolish trzy [t-S1] vs. czy [tS1] (affricate)
@əschwaEnglish arena [@"r\i:n@]
@\ɘclose-mid central unrounded vowelPaicĩ kɘ̄ɾɘ [k@\_M4@\_M]
@`ɚr-coloured schwaAmerican English color ["kVl@`]
{ænear-open front unrounded vowelEnglish trap [tr\{p]
}ʉclose central rounded vowelSwedish sju [x\}:]; AuE/NZE boot [b}:t]
1ɨclose central unrounded vowelWelsh tu [t1], American English rose's ["r\oUz1z]
2øclose-mid front rounded vowelDanish købe ["k2:b@], French deux [d2]
3ɜopen-mid central unrounded vowelEnglish nurse [n3:s] (RP) or [n3`s] (Gen.Am.)
3\ɞopen-mid central rounded vowelIrish tomhail [t3\:l']
4ɾalveolar flapSpanish pero ["pe4o], American English better ["bE4@`]
5ɫvelarized alveolar lateral approximant; also see _eEnglish milk [mI5k], Portuguese livro ["5iv4u]
6ɐnear-open central vowelGerman besser ["bEs6], Australian English mud [m6d]
7ɤclose-mid back unrounded vowelEstonian kõik [k7ik], Vietnamese mơ [m7_M]
8ɵclose-mid central rounded vowelSwedish buss [b8s]
9œopen-mid front rounded vowelFrench neuf [n9f], Danish drømme [dR9m@]
&ɶopen front rounded vowelSwedish skörd [x\&d`]
?ʔglottal stopCockney English bottle ["bQ?o]
?\ʕvoiced pharyngeal fricativeArabic ع (`ayn) [?\Ajn]
* undefined escape character, SAMPA's "conjunctor" 
/ indeterminacy in French vowels 
< begin nonsegmental notation (e.g., SAMPROSA) 
<\ʢvoiced epiglottal fricative 
> end nonsegmental notation 
>\ʡepiglottal plosive 
!\ǃpostalveolar click 
||minor (foot) group 
|\ǀdental click 
||major (intonation) group 
|\|\ǁalveolar lateral click 
=\ǂpalatal click 
-\linking mark 


X-SAMPAIPAIPA imageDescription
_"  ̈centralized
_+  ̟advanced
_-  ̠retracted
_/ ̌rising tone
_0  ̥voiceless
_< implosive (IPA uses separate symbols for implosives)
= (or _=)  ̩syllabic
_\ ̂ 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
_H  ́high tone
_H_T high rising tone
_j (or ')ʲpalatalized
_k  ̰creaky voice
_L  ̀low tone
_lˡlateral release
_M  ̄mid tone
_m  ̻laminal
_N  ̼linguolabial
_nnasal 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
_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 dedicated symbol 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
ǃ\ 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\
e  2
@\  8
7  o
e_o  2_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.
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