Community Wishlist Survey 2022/Generate Audio for IPA

Hello all, and thanks for coming to read more details about Audio for IPA Notation. This was the #9 wish in the Community Wishlist Survey 2022. This article will outline our approach to building a solution of this wish. We are asking for your feedback and insight so that we may make the best possible improvement.

Wish Objective Summary: Generate the audio for International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) notation for readers of the WMF projects.

Original Wish

Background & Problem Space


What is IPA?


The English Wikipedia page for International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) describes it as an alphabetic system of phonetic notation based primarily on the Latin script. IPA is a standardized representation of the documented possible speech sounds that humans can generate making use of their vocal instruments in written form.

This markup allows for contributors to add IPA to our projects so that others who may not know how to pronounce a word can learn how. However, because only very few people on the planet read this notation, it is practically impossible for folks to discern how to pronounce something purely based on IPA notation. While IPA coverage is strong across the projects in the Wikiverse, this does not necessarily mean that folks will know how to pronounce a word.

Where does IPA Exist in our Projects?


IPA exists in multiple Templates inside the WMF-supported projects. As of today, the associated Wikidata object for Template:IPA lists that there are:

  • Wikipedia: 177 entries
  • Wikibooks: 21 entries
  • Wikinews: 1 entry
  • Wikiquote: 3 entries
  • Wikisource: 5 entries
  • Wikiversity: 4 entries
  • Wikivoyage: 5 entries
  • Wiktionary: 85 entries
  • Multilingual sites: 3 entries

Here are two illustrative instances of IPA in our projects:


Where is the hidden complexity of the work ahead of us?


Given that there are many instances of IPA coverage in the WMF products, a large portion of the complexity will be in understanding what libraries are available to us and have the best coverage across languages.

There is also the pre-existing reality that IPA has some languages that do not have dedicated keys for the speech sounds that a given language can make.

A large portion of the complexity will include:

Scope and Constraints


The focus of this project is around readers’ inability to read IPA markup.

  • The project will NOT address the pre-existing equity concerns associated with IPA. While we may do our best to mitigate the equity shortcomings of IPA, it is not part of scope to tackle this
  • This project will NOT generate new phonetic library, we will use a pre-existing audio library

The project will NOT address the content generation of IPA notation on the wikis, i.e. the Editor experience. This is mitigated by offering the rendered audio for IPA notation with no pre-existing audio associated with it

Data Investigations and Unknowns

  • How many users attempt to listen to the pronunciation of IPA notation?
  • How many instances of all IPA templates exist across the projects?
  • What’s the coverage of human generated pronunciation of IPA on our projects?
  • What content is missing IPA notation that needs it?

Why and how did we accept this wish?


This wish scored high in our prioritization process for 2022. It was very popular in terms of number of votes, impactful in terms of the benefit for the community, and had a relatively lower complexity estimate. Please read about our full process.

Release timeline

Release timeline
Item Owner Status Actual Date Target Date Notes
Confirm all tasks merged and ready
Legal review
Security review of Phonos extension (signoff) KSiebert (WMF)   Done Sep 1 2022 N/A
  • This allowed us to deploy to the beta cluster only.
Deploy Phonos to beta cluster TheresNoTime-WMF   Done Oct 11 2022 N/A
  • Beta, en.wikt and only
  • Unexpected delays due to T317195, T317417
Security review of Phonos extension (approval)   Done 2022-11-25 2022-11-25
Determine pilot projects for Phonos rollout STei (WMF)   Done Nov 15 2022
Announcement in Tech/News
Deploy to testwiki MusikAnimal   Done 2022-11-29 2022-11-30 * Including a simulation of a larger-scale template deployment to test job queuing
Deploy to pilot wikis HMonroy (WMF)   Done 2023-01-17 2023-01-09
Deploy to Group 0 The remaining wikis (outside of test and pilots) may not all be done by Group if we end up slow-rolling this.
Deploy to Group 1
Deploy to Group 2
Announcement on project page & any tool-specific pages
Announcement in #release-announcements Slack channel
Bugs identified and cut
Bugs triaged

Status Updates


Update: Phonos in-line player enabled in some Wikis


Hello all,

Some Wikis can now use inline audio player implemented by the Phonos extension. Your audio links can play on clicks in the Wikis where the inline audio player is enabled.

With the inline audio player, you can add text-to-speech audio snippets to wiki pages by simply using a tag:

<phonos file="audio file">Listen</phonos>

The above tag will show the text next to a speaker icon, and clicking on it will play the audio instantly without taking you to another page. A common example where you can use this feature is in adding pronunciation to words as illustrated on the English Wiktionary below.

{{audio|en|en-uk-English.oga|Audio (UK)}}

Could become:

<phonos file="en-uk-English.oga">Audio (UK)</phonos>

You can read about the feature and give us feedback or ask questions about it in this talk page.

June 2023 Update: IPA transition to Language Team


Hello all,

We have news about IPA Audio Renderer, the 9th most popular wish of the 2022 Community Wishlist Survey.

Community Tech will hand over the project to the Language Team this June. This decision is due to the Language team's expertise in localization, and their focus to create a suite of open language-supporting services such as the MinT machine translation service.

In addition to machine translation, the Language team plans to expand the offering of open language services with Text-to-Speech, creating a stable technological foundation for projects such as the IPA Audio Renderer.

Also, with the need to optimize Wikimedia's 2023-24 annual budget, the above makes them the right team to expand and maintain the IPA since they have resources for this kind of work.

Over the past few months, Community Tech has collaborated with some of you to build and deploy the feature on some pilot wikis. Thank you for working with us.

If you have any questions regarding the deployment of the IPA Audio Renderer, please ask on our talk page.

We hope you collaborate kindly with the Language Team in the subsequent phases of this project.

Update: Open Questions: We want to hear from you!

  • Can you help us build out the corpus of IPA words we will use to test the different libraries?
  • Do you know of any open source libraries that we should consider while we investigate our options?
  • Do you see any risks to introducing the audio files inside the reader experiences?
  • Let us know any other thoughts you may have on the initial problem statement inside the talk page!