Received Pronunciation Phonology
The Consonant Sounds of RP
The table below lists all 24 consonants as pronounced in an RP accent. Every English accent contains these same 24 consonants, but not all speakers pronounce them in the same way. Click on a sound file to listen to an RP speaker using the target consonant.
The left-hand column lists the consonants using a simple orthographic representation with all the possible spellings in column two. The symbol used in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is in column three. You will find these IPA symbols in a dictionary where pronunciations of words are included. Use the right-hand column and return to the home map to hear recordings of speakers whose pronunciation differs.
Some speakers in Scotland and Northern Ireland have two additional consonants - the <hw> sound used in words like whisper and when and the guttural sound used for the final consonant in the Scots word loch. The IPA symbol for <hw> is /Ê?/. Speakers in Scotland and Northern Ireland may well, therefore, distinguish between words such as which and witch or whine and wine. The IPA symbol for the consonant in loch is /x/. This sound is used very rarely - most commonly on the exclamation, och, or on place names, such as Auchtermuchty and occasionally on local dialect words or on words of Gaelic origin. Many speakers in Wales on the other hand use 25 consonants - the same inventory as RP but with an additional <hl> sound. This sound is restricted to place names such as Llanelli. The IPA symbol for this consonant is /ɬ/ and many speakers in England have great difficulty pronouncing it.
|consonant||spelling alternatives||IPA symbol||Sound File||Recordings where pronunciation differs|
note also the <p> sound in hiccough
cut, kiss, lucky, occur, stomach, cheque, Iraq, pukka
note also the <kw> sound in words such as queen & acquire and the <ks> sound in words like six
gut, buggy, ghost, guitar
gut, buggy, ghost, guitar note also the <gz> sound in words like exit
tip, matter, thyme
note also the <t> sound in past tenses such as jumped
see also T-tapping, T-voicing and T-glottaling connected speech processes
fast, phrase, office, cough, sapphire
vast, savvy, of
note also the <v> sound in conservative pronunciations of the word nephew
sip, science, cease, class, psychology
note also the <ks> sound in words like six
zip, rose, fizz, scissors
note also the <gz> sound in words like exit
shed, machine, mission, station, tension, species, ocean, conscience, sugar, fascist, schedule
also the <ksh> sound in luxury and the <sh> sound in contemporary pronunciations of words such as tissue
genre, pleasure, montage, seizure
note also the <zh> sound in contemporary pronunciations of words such as casual
chat, match, nature, righteous
also the <ch> sound in contemporary pronunciations of words such as tune, in Italian loan words such as concerto and cappuccino and in most pronunciations of words beginning orthographically with <tr-> such as tree and truck
job, gin, bridge, suggest, adjective
note also the <j> sound in contemporary pronunciations of words such as soldier and dune and in most pronunciations of words beginning orthographically with <dr-> such as drink and drug
mat, summer, climb, autumn
net, funny, knife, gnat, pneumonia
right, write, hurry, rhyme
note also the linking <r> sound in phrases such as car insurance, burglar alarm etc.
also the <y> sound in words such as few, new, music, tune and in some pronunciations of words like onion, brilliant etc.
note also the <kw> sound in words such as queen and choir, the <gw> sound in words like penguin, the <sw> sound in words like persuade, the initial <w> sound in one and once and the <w> sound in French loan words such as reservoir and memoir