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The Speech Assessment Methods Phonetic Alphabet (SAMPA) is a computer-readable phonetic script using 7-bit printable ASCII characters, based on the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA).

It was originally developed in the late 1980s for six European languages by the EEC ESPRIT information technology research and development program. As many symbols as possible have been taken over from the IPA; where this is not possible, other signs that are available are used, e.g. [@] for schwa (IPA [ə]), [2] for the vowel sound found in French deux (IPA [ø]), and [9] for the vowel sound found in French neuf (IPA [œ]).

Today, officially, SAMPA has been developed for all the sounds of the following languages:

The characters ["s{[email protected]] represent the pronunciation of the name SAMPA in English, with the initial symbol ["] indicating primary stress. Like IPA, SAMPA is usually enclosed in square brackets or slashes, which are not part of the alphabet proper and merely signify that it is phonetic as opposed to regular text.


SAMPA was developed in the late 1980s in the European Commission-funded ESPRIT project 2589 "Speech Assessment Methods" (SAM)—hence "SAM Phonetic Alphabet"—in order to facilitate email data exchange and computational processing of transcriptions in phonetics and speech technology.

SAMPA is a partial encoding of the IPA. The first version of SAMPA was the union of the sets of phoneme codes for Danish, Dutch, English, French, German and Italian; later versions extended SAMPA to cover other European languages. Since SAMPA is based on phoneme inventories, each SAMPA table is valid only in the language it was created for. In order to make this IPA encoding technique universally applicable, X-SAMPA was created, which provides one single table without language-specific differences.

SAMPA was devised as a hack to work around the inability of text encodings to represent IPA symbols. Consequently, as Unicode support for IPA symbols becomes more widespread, the necessity for a separate, computer-readable system for representing the IPA in ASCII decreases. However, text input relies on specific keyboard encodings or input devices. For this reason, SAMPA and X-SAMPA are still widely used[citation needed] in computational phonetics and in speech technology.

See also


  • Ranchhod, Elisabeth & J. Mamede, Nuno (2002). Advances in Natural Language Processing: Third International Conference, PorTAL 2002, Faro, Portugal, June 23–26, 2002. Proceedings (Lecture Notes in Computer Science). (1st ed.). Springer. ISBN 3-540-43829-7.
  • L. DeMiller, Anna & Rettig, James (2000). Linguistics: A Guide to the Reference Literature (2nd ed.). Libraries Unlimited. ISBN 1-56308-619-0.
  • Lamberts, Koen & Goldstone, Rob (2004). Handbook of Cognition. Sage Publications Ltd. ISBN 0-7619-7277-3.

External links

  • SAMPA computer readable phonetic alphabet
  • Phonemic notation of English in SAMPA
  • SAMPA for Scots
  • Converter from (German) written text to SAMPA and IPA (Ajax-application)
  • IPA-SAMPA Converter and IPA-SAMPA chart
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