phoneme

A phoneme is the smallest contrastive segment in a language. In other words, they are the smallest building blocks that make the difference between two different words.

If one swaps the /ppp/ in pin to /bbb/, the word becomes bin This changes the meaning from a pointy metal sewing tool (pin) to a box (bin). Phonemes are the building blocks that allow us to build words.

Phonemes by themselves do not have meaning. The phoneme /bbb/ does not mean anything. 

 

pin

  • /pɪˈn/
  • /piˈn/
  • /pĭˈn/
  • 1t4s

bin

  • /bɪˈn/
  • /biˈn/
  • /bĭˈn/
  • 4t4s