Phone (phonetics)

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In phonetics and linguistics a phone is a unit of speech sound (Crystal 1971, p. 178).

The word phone may refer to any speech sound or gesture considered as a physical event without regard to its place in the phonology of a language: an unanalyzed sound of a language (Loos et al. 1997). In contrast, a phoneme is a set of phones or a set of sound features that are thought of as the same element within the phonology of a particular language (Crystal 1971, p. 180).

A phone is a speech segment that possesses distinct physical or perceptual properties, and serves as the basic unit of phonetic speech analysis.

A phonetic transcription is enclosed within square brackets ([ ]), rather than the slashes (/ /) of a phonemic transcription.

See also[edit]


  • Crystal, David (1971). Linguistics. Baltimore: Penguin. 
  • Eugene E. Loos, general editor (Page content last modified: 18 September 1997). "What is a phone?". LinguaLinks: Glossary of linguistic terms. SIL International. Retrieved 16 December 2013.  Check date values in: |date= (help)