These days we can usually listen to the actual sounds, but it is often
useful to know these symbols
and what sounds they refer to.
If you know these symbols and sounds, you can understand more about how words are pronounced.
These sounds are not absolutelyfixed,
as each regionalaccent will shift
these sounds to a certain degree.
For example the short -i- sound of FISH shifts
towards the sound of EGG for Scottish speakers.
See the section on Mergers.