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  1. #1
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    Question English Sounds & Phonetics ???

    Being deeply involved in sounds of English language & its phonetics, I wonder if people around could enlighten me bit further by answering the following questions ???

    Would anyone care firstly confirming that there are 47 different sounds within British English ??? (as can be seen here http://dictionary.cambridge.org/help/phonetics.htm). Contrary to that, English language, as far as I'm aware has 12 different vowel sounds (regardless of having ONLY 5 vowels) along with 24 different consonants. Can anyone confirm which statement is more appropriate ......... 47 sounds in English OR 12 + 24 = 36 sounds ???

    Secondly, any idea about the sounds within American English ???

    Any idea, as how many sounds are there in other languages, as few widely spoken languages by millions around the world such as French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Hindi, Gujarati, etc. ???

    Lastly, which language has the MOST sounds within it (such as British English has around 47 different sounds) & which language has the LEAST sounds within it ???

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: English Sounds & Phonetics ???

    Japanese gets by on five vowel sounds, I believe. There are some sounds not included- the Scottish 'ch' , for instance.

  3. #3
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    Exclamation Re: English Sounds & Phonetics ???

    Quote Originally Posted by tdol
    Japanese gets by on five vowel sounds, I believe. There are some sounds not included- the Scottish 'ch' , for instance.
    Does that mean that there's NO sound in British English which is EXACTLY same as Scottish "ch" as in Loch, which we pronounce as "Lock".

  4. #4
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: English Sounds & Phonetics ???

    They cover the basic sounds- there are variations of those sounds, found in dialects, etc. It covers the basic building blocks, but not all the smaller variations.
    In English English, I know of no sound like 'loch' in Scottish English. We used to have a similar sound ('knight' was pronounced with a sound like that 'ch'), but it seems to have vanished.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: English Sounds & Phonetics ???

    English has more than those 47 sounds that you mention. Those 47 are the basic "units" that can define meaning, and are usually called phonemes. For example, /i:/ and /ɪ/ are different phonemes because they help us tell apart words such as "sheep" and "ship". But within those phonemes there are many more actual sounds. For example, the "k" sound in "bank" is usually different from the "k" sound in "cream".
    For ESL purposes, a command at the phonemic level is more than acceptable.
    As far as other languages are concerned, Spanish (which happens to be my mother tongue) has fewer vowel phonemes (only 5) but more diphthongs than English (13 as opposed to 3 "real" diphthongs in GA and 8 in RP).

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