Key to pronunciation: Indian English

View the pronunciation model for Indian English here

The pronunciations given are those in use among educated urban speakers of standard English in India. While avoiding strongly regionally or socially marked forms, they are intended to include the most common variants for each word. The keywords given in this key are to be understood as pronounced in such speech.

Words associated with India are given British and American pronunciations alongside the Indian pronunciation(s). Where a word is associated with an additional part of the English-speaking world, further pronunciations in the appropriate global variety of English are also given.

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Where a symbol is indicated as being ‘ELSI’, this symbol is reserved for special use, an Extension of the base symbol set only for where the root language is one of the Languages Spoken in India. In these cases, speakers familiar with that language are more likely to use a sound nearer that of the root language than to fully anglicize.


Indian EnglishAs in…
ɜː, ərnurse
ɑːbath, palm
ɔlot, cloth
joː(r), jɔː(r)cure
ELSI (see below)
aːrELSI (see below)
eELSI (see below)
ʊrELSI (see below)
uːrELSI (see below)

ELSI vowels – These vowels are reserved for words whose root language is spoken in India; they are similar in nature to the standard symbols above but vary in length or rhoticity. Vowels may also be nasalised, as in káns /kãs/. Vowels including /ə/, /ʊ/, /aɪ/, /aʊ/ are also used to reflect a broader range of vowel qualities than in some varieties of English.

/ᵻ/ represents free variation between /ɪ/ and /ə/

/aʊ/ before another vowel-initial syllable becomes /aːʋ/


Indian EnglishAs in…
bbig /bɪɡ/
ɖdig /ɖɪɡ/
jet /dʒɛʈ/, pleasure /ˈpleːdʒə(r)/
ðthen /ðɛn/
ffig /fɪɡ/
ɡget /ɡɛʈ/
hhut /həʈ/
jyes /jɛs/
kkit /kɪʈ/
llɛg /lɛɡ/
mmud /məɖ/
nnet /nɛʈ/
ŋthing /θɪŋɡ/
ppit /pɪʈ/
rred /rɛɖ/
ssit /sɪʈ/
ʃship /ʃɪp/
ʈtip /ʈɪp/
θthin /θɪn/
chip /tʃɪp/
ʋwin /ʋɪn/, vet /ʋɛʈ/
zzip /zɪp/
ʂ – ELSImasha /ˈmaːʂa/
ɳ – ELSIprana /ˈpraːɳa/
ɽ – ELSIkankar /ˈkəŋ.kəɽ/
ɭ – ELSIone option for bhelpuri /ˈbheɭpʊri/
q – ELSIqila /ˈqɪ.la/
x – ELSIone option for khalasi /xəˈlːaːsi/
ɣ – ELSImurgh /mʊrɣ/
ʒ – ELSISee below

ELSI consonant use – Only for words whose root language is spoken in India, /h/ is also used to indicate salient aspiration, as in kheer /khiːr/. Other consonants including /r/, /tʃ/, /dʒ/, /ʃ/ are used to reflect a broader range of qualities than in some varieties of English, while /nj/ reflects a voiced palatal nasal quality as in jnana /ˈnjaːna/. In words whose root is a language spoken in India, consonants can be followed by length marks where geminated, e.g. tappal /ʈəˈpːaːl/.

In Indian English, words which would have /ʒ/ in British or American Englishes (e.g. leisure) are transcribed with /dʒ/ instead. Where /ʒ/ does occur, it is as an ELSI symbol as an option for words transliterated zh in Urdu. British and American English /v/ is merged with /w/ (reflected as /ʋ/ in OED, combininɡ features of both sounds). The pronunciation of /f/ may also vary.

Indian English has sounds known as ‘dental plosives’, similar to Irish English, which sound like /t/ and /d/ but with the tongue touching the teeth. These are represented here as /θ/ and /ð/ as they remain distinct from /t/ and /d/.

Unlike in British and U.S. Englishes, consonants are never regarded as being able to take on the function of a vowel.

Indian English optionally retains /r/ after vowels wherever it occurs, reflected with bracketed /(r)/ e.g. mar /mɑː(r)/, unlike British /mɑː/ or U.S. /mɑr/.


The symbol ˈ at the beginning of a syllable indicates that that syllable is pronounced with primary stress. The symbol ˌ at the beginning of a syllable indicates that that syllable is pronounced with secondary stress. The symbol ˈˌ at the beginning of a syllable indicates that that syllable may be pronounced with either primary or secondary stress.