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Phonetics Terms: phone, phoneme, allophone

Phonetics Terms: phone, phoneme, allophone


Today we are going to look again at one of your questions, this time about some terms that are used in phonetics. Lilian says: It was fun but please tell me the difference between phone, phoneme and allophone. Well a lot of people think I am an Expert in phonetics but the truth is I’m not, I just know a little bit that I think is helpful
for people learning English as a foreign language. And this question goes a little beyond my knowledge and I don’t think people really need to worry about it, if their goal is to speak better English. But as I understand it a ‘phone’ is very specific sound and there are hundreds. ‘Phonemes’ are the actual symbols that you see on the phonetic chart, the IPA phonetic chart and ‘allophones’ are the groups of phones that are represented by the same phoneme. So there may be multiple ‘phones’ for the same ‘phoneme’. For example, the different pronunciations of the letter “t” in the words: tub, stub, but, butter, and button, they are all very similar but slightly different so they are allophones of the phoneme /t/. I hope that clears things up, like I said
I don’t think English learners need to worry too much about this unless you are studying phonetics specifically in which case you are watching the wrong videos. So everyone, do you find phonetics helpful, or does it over complicate things for you? Let me know in the comments below. Well, If you haven’t already, you should check out some of my other videos and subscribe to my YouTube channel and mailing list via the website, to keep up to date with new videos and features from me and The English Language Club. It would also be really helpful if you “Like” and ‘share’ this video on the social media. Thanks for watching and I’ll see you next time.

29 thoughts on “Phonetics Terms: phone, phoneme, allophone”

  1. sir,have you uploaded videos about Odepus The king, sons and lovers,To the Lighthouse, keats,s.t.colleridge etc?

  2. sir. i have seen ur videos again and again , very impressive teaching style. Alas; i would see you face to face.

  3. This was brilliant. It was easy and simple but really explained things to me. I am studying phonetics and this was a crystal clear explanation to me. I think that others may need more info perhaps if they haven't already read about phones/phonemes, but for me it was very useful because it was simple and concise.

  4. Thank you! I have added this video to my resource list for my studies. Thanks. I will share it for others too. 🙂

  5. These are the basis for the so-called segmental phonology and are part of The Phonology not Phonetics. The phonetics deals with the physical properties of the sounds in language in isolation, regardless of their relations within the language system. Phonology aims to describe the functions of the sound in relation with the meaning they obtain withing the language system. Phone is a physical realization of a phoneme. The phones of the same phoneme are not identical as they depend on the surrounding phones. The different speech sounds are realizations of the same phoneme because the speaker can use one or another word without changing the meaning of the word – they are called allophones.

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