A proposal for Catalan SAMPA

Llisterri, J. (1995). A proposal for Catalan SAMPA. Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Departament de Filologia Espanyola, Grup de Fonètica. https://joaquimllisterri.cat/language_resources/SAMPA_Catalan.html

SAMPA Symbol Description Word Transcription
p voiceless bilabial stop pala "pal@
b voiced bilabial stop bala "bal@
t voiceless dental stop tela "tEl@
d voiced dental stop donar du"na
k voiceless velar stop cala "kal@
g voiced velar stop gala "gal@
f voiceless labiodental fricative fals "fals
s voiceless alveolar fricative sala "sal@
z voiced alveolar fricative des de "dezD@
S voiceless palatal fricative caixa "kaS@
Z voiced palatal fricative màgic "maZik
m voiced bilabial nasal mena "mEn@
n voiced alveolar nasal nena "nEn@
J voiced palatal nasal any "aJ
l voiced alveolar lateral líquid "likit
L voiced palatal lateral llamp "Lam
rr voiced alveolar trill carro "karru
r voiced alveolar flap cara "kar@
j voiced palatal approximant iaia "jaj@
w voiced labiovelar approximant veuen "bEw@n
i close front unrounded ric "rik
e close-mid front unrounded cec "sek
E open-mid front unrounded sec "sEk
a open central unrounded sac "sak
O open-mid back rounded soc "sOk
o Close-mid back rounded sóc "sok
u close back rounded suc "suk
ts voiceless alveolar affricate tots "tots
dz voiced alveolar affricate dotze "dodz@
tS voiceless palatal affricate cotxe "kotS@
dZ voiced palatal affricate metge "medZ@
B voiced bilabial fricative acaba @"kaB@
D voiced dental fricative cada "kaD@
G voiced velar fricative amagar @m@"Ga
v voiced labiodental fricative afgà @v"Ga
F voiced labiodental nasal àmfora "aFfur@
N voiced velar nasal fang "faN
@ central (schwa) unrounded amor @"mor


The schwa [@] is not usually considered phonemic, since it its the result of a vowel reduction process (Alarcos 1983; Recasens 1993; Bonet & Lloret, 1998; Wheeler, 1997). Badia (1988) provides some examples of minimal pairs.

The phonemic nature of /j/ and /w/ is supported by Badia (1988), Carbonell & Llisterri (1992) Recasens (1993), Wheeler (1997); however, Alarcos (1983) argues for their non phonemic character.

Carbonell & Llisterri (1992) include /tS/ and /dZ/ in the phonemic inventory. Affricates are not considered phonemic in Catalan by Alarcos (1983) Recasens (1993), Wheeler (1997). On the other hand, Badia (1988) supports the phonemic status of /dz/, /tS/ and /dZ/ but considers /ts/ to be a bi-phonematic combination.

Although some mininal pairs can be found contrasting /n/ and [N] in final-word position, the allophonic nature of [N] is usually accepted (Badia, 1988, among others).

[v] is phonemic in certain geographic variants, but it is considered a result of a voicing assimilation in Standard Catalan (Carbonell & Llisterri, 1992; Recasens, 1993).

The symbol [M] has been used in several projects for the transcription of the labiodental nasal; [F] is used here taking into account the X-SAMPA extended proposal.


Alarcos, E. (1983). Estudis de lingüística catalana. Barcelona: Ariel.

Badia i Margarit, A. M. (1998). Sons i fonemes de la llengua catalana. Barcelona: Publicacions de la Universitat de Barcelona.

Bonet, E., & Lloret, M.-R. (1998). Fonologia catalana. Barcelona: Ariel. Retrieved from https://ddd.uab.cat/record/132995

Carbonell, J. F., & Llisterri, J. (1992). Catalan. Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 22(1-2), 53-56. Retrieved from https://joaquimllisterri.cat/publicacions/Carbonell_Llisterri_92_Catalan_IPA.pdf

Carbonell, J. F., & Llisterri, J. (1999). Catalan. In Handbook of the International Phonetic Association. A guide to the use of the International Phonetic Alphabet. (pp. 61-5). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (Original work published 1992) Retrieved from https://joaquimllisterri.cat/publicacions/Carbonell_Llisterri_99_Catalan_IPA.pdf

Recasens, D. (1993). Fonètica i fonologia. Barcelona: Enciclopèdia Catalana.

Wheeler, M. W. (1977). Els fonemes catalans. Alguns problemes. Els Marges, 9, 7-22.

Wells, J. (2005). SAMPA computer readable phonetic alphabet [Web page]. London: Division of Psychology and Language Sciences, University College London. Retrieved from http://www.phon.ucl.ac.uk/home/sampa/index.html

Wells, J. (2000). Computer-coding the IPA: A proposed extension of SAMPA [Web page]. London: Division of Psychology and Language Sciences, University College London. Retrieved from http://www.phon.ucl.ac.uk/home/sampa/x-sampa.htm

For the transcription of Catalan with the International Phonetic Alphabet see:

Institut d’Estudis Catalans. Secció Filològica. (1999). Aplicació al català dels principis de transcripció de l’Associació Fonètica Internacional (J. Rafel, Ed.). Institut d’Estudis Catalans. https://publicacions.iec.cat/repository/pdf/00000042/00000071.pdf

A proposal for Catalan SAMPA
Joaquim Llisterri, Departament de Filologia Espanyola, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

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