I see a lot of word in google translate is not true vs IPA.

For example

teacher /ˈti.tʃɜː/ but in google translate it is /ˈtēCHər/. Is it IPA?

You can see image below.

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What standard sound of google translate has been using?

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    It depends on the region. For example, in the USA, the transcription will be /ˈtiː.tʃɚ/, but in the UK, it'll be /ˈtiː.tʃə/. And about Google translate, I don't know. Maybe the speakers are only Americans?
    – Void
    Nov 25, 2020 at 7:27

1 Answer 1


Google Translate, Google Dictionary use a different phonetic transcription than the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). That is why you get /tēCHər/ instead of /ˈtiː.tʃɚ/ or /ˈtiː.tʃə/ as it would be in the IPA. This is not uncommon for dictionary phonetic markings, as usually this simplified pronunciation respelling is more straightforward, reliant upon fewer symbols, and thus easier for people to understand and memorize.

For example, the IPA uses /i:/ to denote a long close front unrounded vowel, with /i/ marking the vowel and /:/ telling you to elongate that vowel. But this is confusing to people who have never studied the IPA. A lot of native speakers never have to learn the IPA.

Thus it makes sense for dictionaries to avoid the IPA. Mind you, there is nothing wrong with the IPA. On the contrary, it is a highly developed and respected system of phonetic symbols. But it is just too complex for every day lookups, especially by people unfamiliar with the IPA system.

The same long vowel represented by /i:/ thus appears in some dictionaries as /ē/ as in this case, telling you that this vowel is pronounced the same way as the letter E and it is a long vowel. For the same reason, this marking system also avoids /tʃ/ in favor of /ch/ as the transcription for the voiceless postalveolar affricate, because it shows clearly that the sound is the same as how you pronounce the letter combination "ch". This is much more intuitive and simpler. As you can see, Merriam Webster and Lexico, among others, both opt for this simplified system. As noted by @choster, schools and dictionaries in the U.S. use a similar notation.

Keep in mind the IPA was conceived and developed as a universal phonetic transcription system, not just for the English language. It therefore aims to be universally applicable, comprehensive, multi-valent, and constantly adaptable. That is why it is really an overkill for the sole purpose of learning English.

Edit: There seems to be a transatlantic divide here. @rjpond suggests UK dictionaries use the IPA. Judging from Lexico, Cambridge, Longman and many other online dictionaries, the notation system employed by UK dictionaries seems to be a slightly modified version of the IPA.

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    This is much more intuitive and simpler. For whom?
    – Kreiri
    Nov 25, 2020 at 9:01
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    It would be interesting to know whether Google Translate actually uses a different phonetic transcription depending on the location it's called from, e.g., a French-based transcription if called from an IP address in France. Nov 25, 2020 at 12:16
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    The notation used by Google here is similar to the one used in US schools and dictionaries; the relevant wiki article is pronunciation respelling.
    – choster
    Nov 25, 2020 at 15:29
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    Most UK dictionaries use IPA though. I notice that the US version of Lexico gives both versions (non-IPA followed by IPA), but if you switch to Lexico's UK dictionary it gives IPA only
    – rjpond
    Nov 25, 2020 at 17:33
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    @EddieKal: /r/ is a 'phoneme'. [r] (trill r) and [ɹ] (post-alveolar approximant) are it's allophones. So /r/ is fine.
    – Void
    Nov 26, 2020 at 3:22

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