English Pronouncing Dictionary

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The English Pronouncing Dictionary (EPD) was created by the British phonetician Daniel Jones and was first published in 1917. [1] It originally comprised over 50,000 headwords listed in their spelling form, each of which was given one or more pronunciations transcribed using a set of phonemic symbols based on a standard accent. The dictionary is now in its 18th edition. John C. Wells has written of it "EPD has set the standard against which other dictionaries must inevitably be judged". [2]



The precursor to the English Pronouncing Dictionary was A Phonetic Dictionary of the English Language by Hermann Michaelis and Daniel Jones, [3] [4] published in Germany in 1913. In this work, the headwords of the dictionary were listed in phonemic transcription, followed by their spelling form, so the user needed to be aware of the phonemic composition of a word, in order to discover its spelling. A typical entry, given as an example in the preface, was eksplə'neiʃən 'explanation'. The user therefore had to have recognized the phoneme sequence /eksplə'neiʃən/, before they could discover the spelling form of the word. This format did not find favour and a German-British work was in any case not likely to do well at the time of the First World War. [5]

In 2015 an electronic version of the 18th edition appeared: this is an app available for use on Apple's iPhone and iPad, sold through the Apple iStore. [8] An Android version appeared in 2017. [9]

Model accent

All editions have been based on a single accent (or a single American and a single British accent in the case of the 15th to 18th editions). The American accent is named GA (General American), but the British standard accent has been given different names at different times.

Transcription conventions

In all editions the transcription used is essentially phonemic, but the symbols and the conventions for their use have varied from time to time.

Audio material

At the time of the publication of the 16th edition, a CD-ROM disk (compatible with Windows but not with Apple computers) was produced which contains the full contents of the dictionary together with a recording of each headword, in British and American pronunciation. The recorded pronunciations can be played by clicking on a loudspeaker icon. A "sound search" facility is included to enable users to search for a particular phoneme or sequence of phonemes. Most of the recordings were made by actors or editorial staff. The recordings were completely revised for the 18th edition.

See also

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  1. Jones, Daniel (1917). English Pronouncing Dictionary. Dent.
  2. Wells, John (2008). Longman Pronunciation Dictionary (3rd ed.). Longman. p. ix. ISBN   978-1-4058-8118-0.
  3. Michaelis, H. and D. Jones (1913). A Phonetic Dictionary of the English Language. Hanover/Berlin: Carl Meyer.
  4. "Hannover: Carl Meyer; New York: G. E. Stechert & Co., 1913."
  5. Collins, Beverley; Mees, Inger (1999). The Real Professor Higgins . Mouton de Gruyter. pp.  164. ISBN   978-3-11-015124-4.
  6. Wells, John C. (23 December 2000). "My personal history". Archived from the original on 5 December 2008. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  7. Jones, Daniel; Roach, Peter; Setter, Jane; Esling, John (2011). Cambridge English Pronouncing Dictionary (18th ed.). Cambridge University Press. ISBN   978-0-521-15255-6.
  8. Cambridge University Press. "Cambridge English Pronouncing Dictionary on the App Store". Cambridge English Pronouncing Dictionary. Retrieved 30 March 2018.
  9. "Cambridge English Pronouncing Dictionary". Cambridge University Press. Retrieved 30 March 2018.
  10. Wells, J.C. "English Pronunciation and its Dictionary Representation" (PDF). Pergamon/British Council ELT Documents. Pergamon. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 January 2017. Retrieved 11 January 2017.