A symbol that represents a speech sound and is a unit of an alphabet

Question:A symbol that represents a speech sound and is a unit of an alphabet

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Speech sounds are called ‘phonemes’. In English, there are about 44 phonemes, although this number sometimes varies depending upon a person’s dialect.

In phonetics and linguistics, a phone is any distinct speech sound or gesture, regardless of whether or not the exact sound is critical to the meanings of words. In contrast, a phoneme is a speech sound that, in a given language, if it were swapped with another phoneme, would change the meaning of the word. Phones are absolute, not specific to any language, but phonemes can be discussed only in reference to specific languages.

For example, the English words kid and kit end with two distinct phonemes, and swapping one for the other would change the word’s meaning. However, the difference between the p sounds in pun (pʰ, with a puff of air) and spun (p, no puff of air) never affects the meaning of a word in English so they are phones and not phonemes. By contrast, swapping the same two sounds in Urdu can change one word into another: pʰal means ‘fruit’, and pal means ‘moment’ (CIIL 2008).

In the context of spoken languages, a phone is an unanalyzed sound of a language (Loos 1997). A phone is a speech segment that possesses distinct physical or perceptual properties and serves as the basic unit of phonetic speech analysis. Phones are generally either vowels or consonants.

A phonetic transcription (based on phones) is enclosed within square brackets ([ ]) rather than the slashes (/ /) of a phonemic transcription (based on phonemes). Phones (and often phonemes also) are commonly represented using symbols of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA).

For example, the English word spin consists of four phones, [s], [p], [ɪ] and [n], and thus it has the phonetic representation [spɪn]. The word pin has three phones; in that word, the initial sound is aspirated and so can be represented as [pʰ]; the word’s phonetic representation would then be [pʰɪn]. (Precisely the features shown in a phonetic representation depends on whether a narrow or broad transcription is being used the features that the writer wishes to draw attention in the context.)

When phones are considered to be realizations of the same phoneme, they are called allophones of that phoneme (more information on the methods of making such assignments can be found under phoneme). In English, for example, [p] and [pʰ] are considered allophones of a single phoneme, written as /p/. The phonemic transcriptions of the above two words is consequently /spɪn/ and /pɪn/, aspiration no longer being shown since it is not distinctive.


PhonemeIPA SymbolGraphemesExamples
25æa, ai, aucat, plaid, laugh
26a, ai, eigh, aigh, ay, er, et, ei, au, a_e, ea, eybay, maid, weigh, straight, pay, foyer, filet, eight, gauge, mate, break, they
27ee, ea, u, ie, ai, a, eo, ei, aeend, bread, bury, friend, said, many, leopard, heifer, aesthetic
28i:e, ee, ea, y, ey, oe, ie, i, ei, eo, aybe, bee, meat, lady, key, phoenix, grief, ski, deceive, people, quay
29ɪi, e, o, u, ui, y, ieit, england, women, busy, guild, gym, sieve
30i, y, igh, ie, uy, ye, ai, is, eigh, i_espider, sky, night, pie, guy, stye, aisle, island, height, kite
31ɒa, ho, au, aw, oughswan, honest, maul, slaw, fought
32o, oa, o_e, oe, ow, ough, eau, oo, ewopen, moat, bone, toe, sow, dough, beau, brooch, sew
33ʊo, oo, u,ouwolf, look, bush, would
34ʌu, o, oo, oulug, monkey, blood, double
35u:o, oo, ew, ue, u_e, oe, ough, ui, oew, ouwho, loon, dew, blue, flute, shoe, through, fruit, manoeuvre, group
36ɔɪoi, oy, uoyjoin, boy, buoy
37ow, ou, oughnow, shout, bough
38əa, er, i, ar, our, urabout, ladder, pencil, dollar, honour, augur
39eəʳair, are, ear, ere, eir, ayerchair, dare, pear, where, their, prayer
41ɜ:ʳir, er, ur, ear, or, our, yrbird, term, burn, pearl, word, journey, myrtle
42ɔ:aw, a, or, oor, ore, oar, our, augh, ar, ough, aupaw, ball, fork, poor, fore, board, four, taught, war, bought, sauce
43ɪəʳear, eer, ere, ierear, steer, here, tier
44ʊəʳure, ourcure, tourist


PhonemeIPA SymbolGraphemesExamplesVoiced?
1bb, bbbug, bubbleYes
2dd, dd, eddad, add, milledYes
3ff, ff, ph, gh, lf, ftfat, cliff, phone, enough, half, oftenNo
4gg, gg, gh,gu,guegun, egg, ghost, guest, prologueYes
5hh, whhop, whoNo
6j, ge, g, dge, di, ggjam, wage, giraffe, edge, soldier, exaggerateYes
7kk, c, ch, cc, lk, qu ,q(u), ck, xkit, cat, chris, accent, folk, bouquet, queen, rack, boxNo
8ll, lllive, wellYes
9mm, mm, mb, mn, lmman, summer, comb, column, palmYes
10nn, nn,kn, gn, pnnet, funny, know, gnat, pneumonicYes
11pp, pppin, dippyNo
12rr, rr, wr, rhrun, carrot, wrench, rhymeYes
13ss, ss, c, sc, ps, st, ce, sesit, less, circle, scene, psycho, listen, pace, courseNo
14tt, tt, th, edtip, matter, thomas, rippedNo
15vv, f, ph, vevine, of, stephen, fiveYes
16ww, wh, u, owit, why, quick, choirYes
17zz, zz, s, ss, x, ze, sezed, buzz, his, scissors, xylophone, crazeYes
18ʒs, si, ztreasure, division, azureYes
19ch, tch, tu, ti, techip, watch, future, action, righteousNo
20ʃsh, ce, s, ci, si, ch, sci, tisham, ocean, sure, special, pension, machine, conscience, stationNo
23ŋng, n, nguering, pink, tongueYes
24jy, i, jyou, onion, hallelujahYes

That is still k. The talk sound k is within the alphabet written as k /kei/, but in phonetic alphabet based on the IPA it is k still. Spelling a notice predicated on alphabet and writing it in international phonetic alphabet is often different, but also for k it’s the same.


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