Home‎ > ‎



SAMPA is a proposal for representing, in ASCII, the sounds which, in the International Phonetic Alphabet, are represented by non-ASCII characters. Capital letters and characters such as @ take the place of IPA-specific characters. All characters (such as lower case letters, e.g. [e]) which have the same form in SAMPA and IPA have the same value as in IPA.

The modified form of SAMPA used on this website was created for ease of database entry, and some characters - the diacritics in particular - are not standard SAMPA. A more complete description of SAMPA can be found at:


I have used vowel characters from the international character set instead of SAMPA where they resemble the IPA equivalents (so e.g. [ø] rather than SAMPA [2].) For consonants, however, I have retained the SAMPA representation (e.g. [D] rather than IPA [ð])

The diacritics I have used are not standard SAMPA. Again, I have preferred international character set equivalents where available - so, whereas I have used a following asterisk in place of IPA superimposed dots where a suitable character with 'Umlaut' does not exist in the international character set (e.g. [Q*] for a centralised open back rounded vowel) I have preferred to use superimposed dots - e.g. [ä] - where available.

On this website, SAMPA is used in two different ways.

1. In my Shetlandic pronunciation script, which is used in the website as a whole, the characters are essentially phonemic, with the addition of diacritics (two superimposed dots) to indicate the allophones which are owing to the phenomenon I have described as 'soft mutation.' (It is important to distinguish this use of the diacritic from its normal IPA indication of centralisation.) In the website as a whole, this script is in square brackets (except in certain tables) and in a green typeface.

2. In certain tables, and in some of the articles, modified SAMPA is used for a representation which is more strictly phonetic. For example, [a:] and [ä] in the pronunciation script would be represented as [A:] and [æ] in the more phonetic script. This notation is also in square brackets and green typeface, but should be easily distinguished from the pronunciation script by context, and by the different characters used. The article Some Characteristics of the Shetlandic Vowel System - which was originally written for publication - uses slightly different conventions which are explained in the article.


script aopen back unrounded, Cardinal 5, Eng. start
{æ æ ligaturenear-open front unrounded, Eng. trap
turned script a open back rounded, Eng. lot
epsilonopen-mid front unrounded, C3, Fr. même
turned eschwa, Eng. banana
rev. epsilonmid central, Eng. nurse
small cap Ilax close front unrounded, Eng. kit
turned copen-mid back rounded, Eng. thought
2ø øclose-mid front rounded, Fr. deux
9œ oe ligatureopen-mid front rounded, Fr. neuf
turned vopen-mid back unrounded, Eng. strut
hornsclose-mid back unrounded
barred oclose-mid central rounded
upsilonlax close back rounded, Eng. foot


ç voiceless palatal fricative, Ger. ich
ð (edh) voiced dental fricative, Eng. then
eng velar nasal, Eng. thing
esh voiceless palatoalveolar fricative, Eng. ship
theta voiceless dental fricative, Eng. thin
ezh (yogh) vd. palatoalveolar fric., Eng. measure
dotless ? glottal stop, Ger. Verein, also Danish stød
turned w voiceless bilabial or labial-dental fricative, Scots whaur
L\L barred lvelarised lateral approximant, or 'dark l' (1).

(1) In standard SAMPA, [L] represents the palatal lateral approximant (IPA turned y); the velarised lateral is represented by [L\]

Diacritics (non-SAMPA)

:length mark long (1)
'(low) vertical stroke (secondary) stress
"vertical stroke primary stress (2)
+raising mark raised
-lowering mark lowered
;half-length mark half-long
^superscript next character is superscript
*two dots above centralised (3)

(1) Also IPA and SAMPA

(2) Where IPA uses a vertical stroke ['] for primary stress and a low vertical stroke for secondary stress, and SAMPA uses ["] for primary stress and [%] for secondary stress, I have used ['] for primary stress in words requiring only one stress mark, and ["] for primary stress and ['] for secondary stress in words requiring two stress marks.

(3) I have used superimposed dots (e.g. [ä]) where available in the international character set. In my pronunciation script, this diacritic does not show centralisation, but the phenomenon which I describe as 'soft mutation' - see: Some Characteristics of the Shetlandic Vowel System.