Phoneme

A phoneme is a basic unit of a language's phonology, which is combined with other phonemes to form meaningful units such as words or morphemes. The phoneme can be described as "the smallest segmental unit of sound employed to form meaningful contrasts between utterances". In this way the difference in meaning between the English words kill and kiss is a result of the exchange of the phoneme /l/ for the phoneme /s/. Two words that differ in meaning through a contrast of a single phoneme are called minimal pairs.

Within linguistics there are differing views as to exactly what phonemes are and how a given language should be analyzed in phonemic terms. However, a phoneme is generally regarded as an abstraction of a set (or equivalence class) of speech sounds (phones) which are perceived as equivalent to each other in a given language. For example, in English, the "k" sounds in the words kit and skill are not identical (as described below), but they are distributional variants of a single phoneme, /k/. Different speech sounds representing the same phoneme are known as allophones, and such variation may be conditioned, in which case a certain phoneme is realized as a certain allophone in particular phonological environments, or it may be free in which case it may vary randomly. In this way, phonemes are often considered to constitute an abstract underlying representation for words, while speech sounds make up the corresponding phonetic realization, or surface form.

Read more about Phoneme:  Notation, Assignment of Speech Sounds To Phonemes, Other Features With Phonemic Status, Distribution of Allophones, Background and Related Ideas, Restrictions On Occurrence, Biuniqueness, Neutralization and Archiphonemes, Morphophonemes, Numbers of Phonemes in Different Languages, Correspondence Between Letters and Phonemes, Phonemes in Sign Languages

Other articles related to "phoneme, phonemes":

Allotone - Complementary and Free-variant Allophones
... Every time a speech sound is produced for a given phoneme, it will be slightly different from other utterances, even for the same speaker ... This has led to some debate over how real, and how universal, phonemes really are (see phoneme for details) ... There are two types of allophones, based on whether a phoneme must be pronounced using a specific allophone in a specific situation, or whether the speaker has freedom to (unconsciousl ...
Allotone
... possible spoken sounds (or phones) used to pronounce a single phoneme ... in pin) and (as in spin) are allophones for the phoneme /p/ in the English language ... Although a phoneme's allophones are all alternative pronunciations for a phoneme, the specific allophone selected in a given situation is often predictable ...
Allotone - Representing A Phoneme With An Allophone
... Since phonemes are abstractions of speech sounds, not the sounds themselves, they have no direct phonetic transcription ... However, when there are complementary allophones of a phoneme, so that the allophony is significant, things become more complicated ... then that representation is chosen for the phoneme ...
Analytical Phonics
... Analytical Phonics refers to an approach to the teaching of reading in which the phonemes associated with particular graphemes are not pronounced in ... Children identify (analyse) the common phoneme in a set of words in which each word contains the phoneme under study ... learning realising that the initial phoneme in /p i g/ is the same as that in /p æ t, p a k, p u ƒ/ and /p e n/, children deduce that they must write that phoneme with grapheme ...
Phonemes in Sign Languages
... called cheremes or cheiremes but they are now generally referred to as phonemes, as with oral languages ... Sign language phonemes may be classified as tab (elements of location, from Latin tabula), dez (the hand shape, from designator), sig (the motion, from signation), and with some researchers ... Stokoe notation is used by researchers to denote the phonemes of sign languages ...