Phonemic Inventories 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.
Speech Accent Archive has a number of phonemic inventories available.
Phonemic Inventories and Cultural 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.
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.
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 ASHA.
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
View these videos for additional information
If you have any questions, please contact ASHA's Office of Multicultural Affairs at