The charts below show the way in which the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) represents Japanese language and Okinawan pronunciations in Wikipedia articles. Sounds occurring only as allophones are included for narrow transcription.
See Japanese phonology for a more thorough discussion of the sounds of Japanese.
Examples in the charts are Japanese words transliterated according to the Hepburn romanization system.
- The fricative [z]~[ʑ] is in free variation with the affricate [dz]~[dʑ]. Usually, this is represented phonemically as /z/.
- The Japanese r varies between a postalveolar flap [ɽ] and an alveolar lateral flap [ɺ].
- The Japanese w is not equivalent to a typical IPA [w] since it is pronounced with lip compression rather than rounding. The labial spreading diacritic is an extended IPA character.
- The Japanese /e/ doesn't quite line up with any English vowel, though the nearest equivalents are the vowel of pay (for most English dialects) and the vowel of met; the Japanese vowel is usually articulated at a point between the two.
- There is no simple symbol in the IPA for Japanese u, which is neither rounded [u] nor unrounded [ɯ], but compressed [ɯ͡β̞]. The labial spreading diacritic is an extended IPA character.
- The position of this downstep, which does not occur in all words, varies between dialects, and frequently is not indicated. The downstep is a drop in pitch; the word rises in pitch before the ꜜ. When ꜜ occurs after the final syllable of a word, any attached grammatical particles will have low tone.