American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Phonemic Inventories Across Languages

Phonemic Inventories | How can I use this information? | Additional Resources

Phonemic Inventories

Languages across the world have unique phonemic systems. For individuals learning English as a second language, it is common for the phonemic system of their first language to influence the production of sounds in English.

Please remember that dialectal differences exist for each language and should be considered when using the phonemic charts.

The Speech Accent Archive has a number of phonemic inventories available.

ASHA has compiled resources on the phonemic systems for the following languages:

Amharic

Arabic

Arabic Phonemic Inventory [PDF]

Cultural Profiles and Resources for Service Providers

Bosnian

The Bosnians [PDF, 6.1MB]

Burmese

Burmese Phonemic Inventory

Cultural Profiles and Resources for Service Providers

Refugees from Burma [PDF]

Chinese

Dialects

Cultural Profiles and Resources for Service Providers

English

English Phonemic Inventory [PDF]

Dialect

Cultural Profiles and Resources for Service Providers

An Introduction to Jamaican Culture for Rehabilitation Service Providers

Haitian Creole

Cultural Profiles and Resources for Service Providers

Hindi

Hmong

Dialect

Korean

An Introduction to Korean Culture for Rehabilitation Service Providers

Pashto and Persian

Cultural Profiles and Resources for Service Providers

The Afghans [PDF]

Russian

Spanish

Spanish Phonemic Inventory [PDF]

Dialect

Cultural Profiles and Resources for Service Providers

Somali

Dialect

Af Maay The Somali Bantu [PDF]

Cultural Profiles and Resources for Service Providers

The Somalis [PDF, 9.1MB]

Tagalog

Cultural Profiles and Resources for Service Providers

Understanding People of Philippine Origin: A Primer for Rehabilitation Service Providers[PDF]

Turkish

Dialect

Eastern Anatolian dialect of Turkish The Meskhetian Turks

Vietnamese

Vietnamese Phonemic Inventory [PDF]

Cultural Profiles and Resources for Service Providers

Refugee Profiles/Information

ASHA's policy documents state that SLPs and audiologists must consider the sound systems of all the languages used by a client in order to provide appropriate assessment and treatment services.

How can I use this information?

Speech-language pathologists can use this information to:

  • Identify sounds in a client's phonological system for languages other than English.
  • Determine phonemic influences of a client's native language on English.
  • Identify sounds from the client's first language that may not exist in English or identify sounds in English that do not exist in someone's native language.
  • Recognize that even if there are similar sounds across two languages, they may not be used the same way. For example, in some languages a sound may only be used at the ends of words and not as a word-initial sound.

Audiologists can use this information to:

  • Correlate the client's audiogram and the sounds of the client's language(s).
  • Recognize and respond to amplification needs.
  • Identify the effect of the individual's phonemic system on speech audiometry assessment.
  • Modify materials and procedures during speech audiometry assessment.

Additional Resources

This is not a comprehensive listing of available resources. The inclusion of specific items in this listing does not represent a qualitative judgment or an endorsement of these items by the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association.

Books

Hua, Z., & Dodd, B. (2006). Phonological development and disorders in children: A multilingual perspective. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

McLeod, S. (2007). The International guide to speech acquisition. San Diego: Delmar Learning.

Websites with Phonemic Inventories

Videos

View these videos for additional information

If you have any questions, please contact ASHA's Office of Multicultural Affairs at multicultural@asha.org.

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