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May I ask a question?

How am I supposed to read acronyms? As an indepent word altogether or as separate letters. I know most of them are pronounceable but what about this particular one?

I'm still studying the Phonetic topics for the public examinations and facing the IPA. How do native English speakers pronounce IPA? /'aipə/? or is it "i-p-a"?

Thanks in advance.

Views: 15

Comment by Ellen Pham on March 28, 2010 at 2:02pm
If no one knows for sure, Rosa, I would ask the secretary of the International Phonetics Assoc.

Comment by Roselink on March 28, 2010 at 2:47pm
I will, rather, I am currently writing an email. Thanks.

Comment by Ellen Pham on March 28, 2010 at 3:33pm
Ok, now that you will be getting an offical response, I am going to put my guess out there.. I-P-A

Reading acronyms seems to be more of a feel than a science. There might be specific rules, but I'm not aware of them. Sometimes it's simply which way feels better in the mouth (for a native speaker, of course).

Though it seems to me that if an acronym gets beyond 4 letters, it's got to be pronounced as a word, or just use the phrase that the acronym stands for.

I'm not sure, thought!

Comment by ddeubel on March 28, 2010 at 11:43pm

Acronyms are almost always pronounced by letter. Just say the letter's name and you have it. But sometimes an acronym can be pronounced if it forms a word (usually means it must have some vowels). Like "SNAFU" - situation normal all f****** up. Or OPEC (pronounced O-peck) . so you just have to take each one as it comes and decide.

However abbreviations are different beasts and are almost always pronounced as half words but usually are only used in the written form. ie. unspoken.

Comment by Roselink on March 29, 2010 at 9:17am
Thanks to both of you. My guess was that it should be pronunced as separate letters. In Spanish we say IPA as an independent word, or as Alfabeto Fonético Internacional. Anyway, the email has already been sent so let's see what the Phonetic Authorities have to say about it: Isn't it exciting?
I'll let you know as soon as I get the reply, if any.

Best regards.

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