Let's Revise

Let's Revise - Languages in Danger

The Sounds of Language


1. What is the difference between 'phoneme' and 'phone'?

'Phoneme' is an abstract unit that hypothetically exists in the mind of human, while 'phone' is an actual, concrete sound of language; 'phoneme' is not a sound!

2. How does phonetic transcription works?

Phonetic transcription is a way of exact symbolic notation of sounds of speech using an adequate alphabet (as, e.g., IPA or SAMPA). Sometimes a distinction between the narrow and wide transcription is introduced, the latter being also referred to as phonemic or phonological. The former closely reflects the sound of utterances, while the latter is simpler as it operates on the inventory of phonemes of a given language and it does not account for possible variation in pronunciation as long as it does not implies a change of the phoneme category.

3. What is the number of phonemes in your language? Are there any controversies regarding this number?

The number of phonemes in the languages that have been studied in this respect varies from ten to over one hundred forty. However, in most cases, the number is between 20 and 60. If you are not certain, please verify you answer with at least two or three sources.

4. Where can you find most tonal languages in the world?

Tonal languages are found mostly in the south-eastern part of Asia and in the middle west of Africa. Tonality is also found in some languages of Indians in North America.

5. What are the components of speech prosody?

Prosody consists of suprasegmental features of utterances, i.e. those that are perceived and relevant only at the in stretches of speech longer than a single phonetic segment. They are: rhythm, intonation and loudness. All of them are mutually interrelated. Rhythm is formed not only on the basis of different durations of segments but also due to variation of intensity of segments or syllables.