Phonetic transcription software refers to computer programs that are able to translate a sample of text using a phonetic alphabet. There are a number of different phonetic alphabets that can be used, though the most common and universal is the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). Use of phonetic transcription software is especially beneficial for language learners that may have difficulty understanding pronunciation through a different alphabet, while the IPA can be used with just about any language. Business applications for this type of software include its use in conducting business verbally, by allowing easier pronunciation of foreign words and in language education.
The basic purpose of phonetic transcription software is typically to process a sample of language, usually from a written text, and translate that sample into a phonetic alphabet. This is typically done with typed text that is either entered into the software manually or opened from a text document that is generated through other software. While transcription services often render audio information into a text format, this can be quite a bit more difficult for phonetic alphabets. There are some phonetic transcription software programs that can utilize spoken audio to create phonetic text documents, though these may be somewhat imprecise.
A phonetic alphabet, such as the IPA, is a written alphabet in which letters and symbols represent individual sounds. In English, for example, letters and combinations such as “s” and “ce” can create the same sound, while a phonetic alphabet includes only a single symbol that represents this sound. The phonetic transcription software can utilize text input from a standard alphabet and generate that same text translated into a phonetic alphabet, though it remains the same language. Some words may seem fairly similar in a standard alphabet and a phonetic alphabet, like the word “cat” and “cæt,” while other words can seem quite different, such as “fusion” and “fjuʒən.”
Use of phonetic transcription software may be limited to certain specialized needs, though it can help facilitate a number of processes. In business, for example, it may be difficult for someone to accurately read words printed in another language in order to communicate. Understanding of a phonetic alphabet, however, can allow someone to pronounce words properly in just about any language, as long as the phonetic spelling is accurate. Phonetic transcription software can also be advantageous in language studies, and can be used by both teachers and students to make pronunciation of foreign passages easier and more precise.