Phonemic Inventories and Cultural and Linguistic Information Across Languages
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.
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.
Phonemic Inventories and Cultural and Linguistic Information
ASHA has compiled resources on the phonemic systems for the following languages:
English Phonemic Inventory [PDF]
Pashto and Persian
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.
Websites with Phonemic Inventories
If you have any questions, please contact ASHA's Office of Multicultural Affairs at