Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology

2018 Edition
| Editors: Jeffrey S. Kreutzer, John DeLuca, Bruce Caplan


  • Christina NesslerEmail author
  • Carney Sotto
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-57111-9_908


Phoneme is the smallest speech-sound unit that affects or differentiates meaning in a given language. Sounds examined as part of the language system are phonemes.

A phoneme is recognized as distinct from other sounds. When a phoneme is contrasted with another phoneme, the difference can be distinguished as a different word.


The following illustrates how changing a single phoneme affects word meaning: /k/ cook, /h/ hook, /b/ book, /t/ took. A single phoneme may correspond to one or more graphemes (written letters), as in “true” and “through, ” which differ only in the substitution of the phoneme /θ/for the phoneme “t. ” Another example is the phoneme /t/ distinguishes between “me” and “meat”


References and Readings

  1. Bernthal, J. E., Bankson, N. W., & Flipsen, P. (Eds.). (1998). Articulation and phonological disorders, speech sound disorders in children (7th ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.Google Scholar
  2. Ziegler, W., & Deger, K. (1998). Clinical phonetics and linguistics. London: Whurr.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.VA Salt Lake City Health Care SystemSalt Lake CityUSA
  2. 2.College of Allied Health SciencesUniversity of CincinnatiCincinnatiUSA