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Phonology refers to the sounds used in a language.

One letter doesn't always mean one sound. Think about the difference in the sound of the letter 'a' in the words "father", "bat", and "make".
That's three separate sounds (linguists: I'm counting the dipthong as one sound, don't get picky).

Guides to Pronunciation: No system of indicating pronunciation is self-explanatory. One attempt to standardize the symbols used to indicate pronunciation is the "International Phonetic Alphabet" (IPA). However, as virtually all the symbols used by that method are new to the common reader of English, use of that system requires, essentially, the memorization (and use) of what is an entirely new alphabet. (To put it another way, I find it to be a giant pain in the ass.) Take this for example:

Do you know what that says?

Wouldn't something like this be much better?

in-tur-nah-shun-ahl fuh-neh-tik al-fuh-beht


What's the difference between o and o?

a, ah - 'a' in 'father'<br>
a, á, ã, ä - 'a' in 'bat'<br>
a, ei, ai, ay, ey - 'a' in 'fate'<br>
e, ä, eh, ae - 'e' in 'bet'<br>
i, e, ee - the first 'e' in 'complete'<br>
o, oh, ó - 'o' in 'hole'<br>
o - 'o' in 'pocket'<br>
u, ú, oo - 'u' in 'duke'<br>
u, uh - 'u' in 'but'<br>
ö, oe - as per German 'mögen', sort of like 'u' in 'put'<br>
ü, ue - as per German 'würde' (make an 'oo' sound with your lips pursed)<br>
i, ih, y - 'i' in 'kitten'</p>

b - b in 'boy'<br>
k, c, kh, q - k in 'koala'<br>
d - d in 'dog'<br>
f, ph - f in 'fish'<br>
g, gh - g in 'got'<br>
g, j - g in 'George'<br>
h, j - h in 'hello'<br>
l - l in 'lot'<br>
m - m in 'minute'<br>
n - n in 'nail'<br>
ñ, ny - like ñ in 'piñata'<br>
p - p in 'peanut'<br>
q, qw, qu - qu in 'quota'<br>
r, rh - r in 'rail'<br>
rr - rolled r, as in Spanish 'arroz' (sort of a motor sound)<br>
s, ç, ss - s in 'some'<br>
t - t in 'time'<br>
v - v in 'vitamin'<br>
w, wh - w in 'wail'<br>
x, ks, cs - x in 'box'<br>
ts, tz - ts in 'cats'<br>
y, yh, ll - y in 'you'<br>
z - z in 'zoo'<br>
zh, j - like g in 'montage' (French j, as in 'je')<br>
sh, sch - sh in 'shoot'<br>
th, dh - th in 'them'<br>
th - th in 'throw' (notice, a different sound)<br>
ch - ch in 'chimney'<br>
ch, kh - German, Scottish, Yiddish (etc.) phlegm-clearing sound</p>

Of course there are many sounds I haven't included, like the Hungarian long ö,
the !x used in the !Xhosa language, or the glottal stop used in the Cockney
dialect of English




The International Phonetic Alphabet in Unicode
The American Heritage Dictionary Pronunciation Guide