This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Nuts and Bolts: phonemes

You have to be careful with junk mail. I got something the other day entitled phoneme.

A phoneme is a single speech sound, especially one that distinguishes one word from another, like, for instance, the final sounds of hip, hit, hill and hid.

Academics quibble a bit about phonemes because sometimes sounds that people think are the same aren't actually identical (like, if you're a native English speaker, the k sounds in cool and keep). 

It follows that sound that's a phoneme in one person's language might split into two or more phonemes in another: small children, for example, often go through a stage of not distinguishing between r and w, or y and l.

Because of this, a phoneme is defined as the smallest unit of sound that can make a difference to meaning in a particular language.

But anyway, what about the phoneme email in my junk folder?

Well, luckily, just before I opened it I realised it should really have read phone me...

Thing To Consider Today: phoneme. This word comes from the Greek phōnēma, sound or speech.

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