Frequently Asked Questions

I can’t play the sound files.

The following steps have not yet failed to resolve all audio play issues:

1.  Update your internet browsers to the newest versions.

2.  Clear the cache on your browsers.

3.  Use a different browser.  We’ve had some reports praising the performance of CHROME on the site, others have preferred the newest INTERNET EXPLORER, some use FIREFOX.  Also,  OPERA, SAFARI, etc.


May I download or make copies of the IDEA files? Downloading is not possible.  For all questions to do with permissions and copyright, please see Copyright and Credit Information.


I believe that some of the phonetics are incorrect.  Have these been checked?  Does it matter? 

In short, yes, it does matter. Please first consider if this is a rendering error due to fonts displaying incorrectly.  Are there simply blank boxes appearing, or diacritical markings that have migrated left slightly?  This would be a display issue rather than a phonetic error.

IDEA is an increasingly utilized phonetic and dialect resource.  We do, however, rely upon our individual editors to supply correct information with meticulous attention to detail.  Human error, not to mention computer error in the transliteration of fonts, is easily introduced and can result in phonetic work that appears to be, or is, inaccurate.  IDEA has adopted a peer-review process to ensure the continued legitimacy of the archive.  Please report all errors to


I don’t think the phonetics are displaying accurately.  What fonts are you using, and why?

This site was designed to maximize usability.  It is a free resource, but we also hope to make it the best resource for dialects of English.  As such, we have elected to use justified text in a darker grey font color to fit with a clean, modern aesthetic.  Fonts that compliment this aesthetic and are widely supported by browsers include the sans serif font “Arial”, our primary font.

Keeping with the sans-serif motif, we next carefully examined several IPA fonts.  It was our hope to find a single, unifying “body” font that would be sans-serif and have excellent accuracy and legibility in the area of phonetics, as well as pleasantly flowing in a justified alignment for readers focusing on orthographic and biographic sections.

We found that most IPA unicode fonts (Charis SIL, Doulos SIL, Lucida Sans, etc) were less pleasant for the general text body, were less legible for our transcriptions, or both.

As such, IDEA employs Arial for its primary body source, keeping with a clean and modern aesthetic. However, if you are using Windows-XP, arial does not support phonetics. IDEA is best viewed with an operating system that is post Windows-XP.

Our site attempts to use the following, preferential order:  Arial Unicode MS, Lucida Grande, Lucida Sans Unicode, Arial. This list is based on balancing various operating systems, browsers, aesthetics, and support of the full IPA, including diacritics and suprasegmentals.

In some cases, PDFs of the original transcriptions are embedded to minimize error, but because PDFs are not easily searched, we attempt to include the transcription, in a Unicode font, in all samples.  The transliteration from various antiquated IPA fonts to unicode-compatible fonts that have cross-browser and multi OS platform support is challenging.  Please report errors to the staff of IDEA.

More about phonetic fonts for use on the internet can be found in this article by John Wells.

Another excellent resource can be found here.