Sunday, June 19, 2016

Number of Sounds and Segments

Many English words differ in the number of segments and letters they contain. In linguistics a segment is a unit of speech. When the number of segments and letters differs, it is usually due to silent letters and this results in more letters than segments. Some words, however, have more segments than letters.

The following words differ in the number of segments and letters:

class cough fox laugh music
scene sing unit wrist yacht

Here are the words with the number of letters and segments:

1) class (5 letters and 4 segments) [klæs]

2) cough (5 letters and 3 segments) [kɑf]

3) fox (3 letters and 4 segments) [fɑks]

4) laugh (5 letters and 3 segments) [læf]

5) music (5 letters and 6 segments) [mjuzIk]

6) scene (5 letters and 3 segments) [sin]

7) sing (4 letters and 3 segments) [sIŋ]

8) unit (4 letters and 5 segments) [junIt}

9) wrist (5 letters and 4 segments) [rIst]

10) yacht (5 letters and 3 segments) [jɑt]


In seven of the ten words from this list, the number of letters is greater than the number of segments. Many English words have silent letters. For example, the word scene has a silent and a word-final silent e. Three words have more segments than letters. This is because the letter represents two segments and in many words the letter also represents two segments. The list shows that English spelling isn't very phonetic.

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