Phonemes and its explanation in English/with categories


A phoneme represents a set of sounds that convey the same meaning. When several people with different accents pronounce the / p / they make very different sounds, but this variation of the sound does not affect the meaning. Colloquially, phonemes are called “sounds.” Notice that the phonemes are placed between bars //. Phonemes and its explanation

The phoneme is the minimum unit of the sound of the phonological system of a language. The phonological system is the inventory that accounts for all the sounds that a language has in its realization in speech.

The word phoneme comes from the Greek φώνημα (phṓnēma), which means ‘sound of the voice‘.

The phoneme is, therefore, a minimum unit, that is, it cannot be broken down into smaller units, so we say that the phoneme is the minimum articulation of a sound of a tongue.


Pronounce English

 / æ /, / ɑ: /, / ʌ / , / ə / , / ɜ: / ,  / i: / ,  / ɪ / , / ɔ : / ,  / u: / ,  / ʊ / ,   / eɪ / ,   / θ / ,  / ð / , / ʃ / ,   / ʧ / ,  / ʒ / , / ʤ / , / b / , / d / , / f / ,  / g / ,  / h / ,  / j / ,  / k / , / l / ,  / p / ,  / r / ,  / s / ,  / t / ,  / v / ,  / w / ,  / z /

There are different views on what exactly phonemes are and how a given language should be analyzed in terms of phonemics (or phonemics). However, a phoneme is usually viewed as an abstraction of a set (or equivalence class) of speech sounds (telephones) that are perceived to be equivalent to each other in a given language. For example, the English k sounds in kill and skill are not identical (as described below), but they are distribution variants of the same phoneme / k /

Speech sounds that differ but do not cause meaningful changes in the word are known as allophones for the same phoneme. Allophonic variation can be conditioned, in which case a certain phoneme is realized as a certain allophone in certain phonological environments, or else it can be free and can vary depending on the speaker or dialect. Therefore, phonemes are often viewed as an abstract base representation for word segments, while speech sounds constitute a corresponding phonetic realization or surface form. Phonemes and its explanation

Categories of Phonemes

vowel phonemes

referred to the vowel sounds

vowel phonemes can be cataloged according to their degree of opening, while consonant phonemes are classified according to their point of articulation in labial, labiodental, coronal, interdental, dental, alveolar, postalveolar, retroflex, palatal, velar, uvular, pharyngeal phonemes and glottal.

consonant phonemes

typical of consonants.

Consonant phonemes are also distinguished according to the mode of articulation: occlusive, nasal, simple vibrant, multiple vibrant, fricative, lateral fricative, approximate, lateral approximate, ejective, and implosive occlusive.

In addition, consonant sounds can be distinguished from each other if they are loud or deaf. For example, / p / and / b / share point and mode of articulation, but differ in that / p / is deaf and / b / loud. So, it will not be the same to say paw than to say gown.

In this sense, the phonemes also have a distinctive function because they allow us to distinguish words that vary in just one sound, totally changing the meaning. Examples of this would be the minimum saint and song pairs, drama and plottheme, and motto. Phonemes and its explanation

Designation of Phonemes

When transcribing, phonemes are usually placed between slashes, and speech sounds (telephones) are placed in square brackets. Thus, / pʊʃ / is a sequence of three phonemes, / p / , / ʊ / , / ʃ / (the word push in standard English), and [pʰʊʃ] is a phonetic sequence of sounds [pʰ] ( aspiration p ), [ ʊ ] , [ ʃ ] (common pronunciation push ). This should not be confused with the similar condition of using angle brackets to enclose spelling units, graphemes. For example, f represents the written letter (grapheme) f. The characters used for specific phonemes are often taken from the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA)

Assigning speech sounds to phonemes

A simplified procedure for determining whether two sounds represent the same or different phonemes. A phoneme is a sound or a group of different sounds that are perceived by native speakers of a language or dialect as performing the same function.

An example is the English phoneme / k /, which occurs in words such as cat, kit, scat, skit. Although the majority of carriers do not notice the language, in most English dialects “c / k” in these words are not the same: in kit [kʰɪt], the sound breathy, but skills ( help · info )  [skɪl], it’s naturally aspirated. Words thus contain different speech sounds, or telephones, transcribed [kʰ] for aspirated and [k] for breathless. However, these different sounds are considered to belong to the same phoneme, because if the speaker uses one instead of the other, the meaning of the word does not change: the use of the aspirated form [kʰ] in the skill may seem strange, but the word will still be recognized. On the contrary, some other sounds will cause the meaning to change when replaced, for example, replacing the sound [t] will result in another word still, and therefore this sound should be considered as representing another phoneme (phoneme / t / ). It is shown above that in English [k] and [kʰ] are allophones of the same phoneme / k /. However, in some languages [kʰ] and [k] are perceived by native speakers as different sounds, and replacing one with another can change the meaning of the word. Hence, in these languages, the two sounds represent different phonemes. For example, in Icelandic, [K] is the first Katur sound, which means “oars,” but [k] is the first gátur sound, which means “riddle.” Hence, there are two separate phonemes in Icelandic / kʰ / and / k /.

Distribution of allophones

When a phoneme has more than one allophone, the one that is actually heard in a given case of that phoneme may depend on the phonetic environment (ambient sounds) – allophones that usually cannot appear in the same environment are considered to be in an additional distribution. In other cases, the choice of an allophone may depend on the individual speaker or other unpredictable factors – such allophones are said to be in free variation, but allophones are still chosen in a specific phonetic context, and not vice versa.


Both allophones and phonemes are very much important in the study of linguistics. we will discuss both Allophones and Phonemes with an explanation here.

The first meaning that appears in the dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy ( RAE ) of the term allophone refers to that which is expressed in a different language. It is, in this case, an adjective. Phonemes and its explanation

For example: “If from a group of five men, four speak in English and the fifth is allophone, the latter subject will have difficulty understanding the conversations they have in Shakespeare’s language“The team is Dominican but the coach is allophone, that is why he has a translator ”“ I consider myself an allophone Argentine writer since I don’t write in Spanish ”.

The concept of allophone, on the other hand, refers to the different variants that may exist of a certain phoneme, according to the location of the phoneme in question in the syllable or in the word or according to the characteristics that the adjacent phonemes present.

Put more simply, allophones are the different sounds that a phoneme can adapt according to the context, without changing its value. In our language, the letters GD, and B can present different allophones by virtue of the particular use.

Take the case of the letter B. You can acquire an occlusive sound, as in the term “combat” , or a fricative sound, as in the word “alba” The B, therefore, has two allophones. As you can see, the value of the letter does not change, although the pronunciation of it varies. Allophones mark these alterations that depend on the context in which the letter appears. Phonemes and its explanation

Before continuing, it is necessary to briefly define the concepts related to the types of sounds that consonants can produce. An occlusive consonant, in the first place, generates a sound that obstructs the airflow for a fraction of time until it finally releases the passage. If we think again of the letter B in the word “combat”, we will notice that between the end of the M and the beginning of the A there is a small period of time in which the air stops coming out of the mouth.

On the other hand, the concept of allophone is also related to the fricative consonant, which is generated when the articulatory organs narrow or contract, causing an alteration in the passage of air that manifests as friction, which can acquire various degrees of turbulence. Phonemes and its explanation

In the case of the term «dawn», the organs that we narrow to pronounce it are the lips, while to say «seal» we take advantage of the upper teeth and the lower lip to reduce the passage of air and give rise to that characteristic sound of the letter F.

Another case of fricative sound takes place when pronouncing the letter X, and here the soft palate and the back of the tongue come into play; for example, in the word “extra.” Two synonyms for fricative are strident and spicy, although at present they are not so frequent.

Our language has more examples of allophones, although not as many as English or Catalan, for example. However, the fundamental problem in identifying them is not the scarcity but the little force we print in the consonants when speaking Spanish, although this varies according to the accent.

The letter D presents a particular case, in which this difficulty is appreciated: in the term “given”, the pronunciation of the D is not the same in both syllables, although the difference is almost imperceptible. In the first syllable, the consonant is occlusive, while in the second it is approximate fricative since it lets out the air with the friction that can be heard slightly. Phonemes and its explanation

In general, each phoneme corresponds to a letter, however, it should be remembered that the phoneme is the sound representation of the letter, which is the graphic representation or grapheme.

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