The Unique Sounds Made in Different Languages

Joshua Rudder of the linguistic channel NativLang looks at phonemes, the unique sounds and vocal combinations that comprise various languages, including English.

Kissing, clicking, sputtering… these are just some of the odd sounds that people around the world actually use to speak! Come hear these unusual phonemes, try them out yourself and find out which one of them is something you say every day in English.

This includes such linguistic terms as bilabial trill, bilabial trilled affricate, dental fricative, and pharyngeal consonants. These indicate how the mouth, vocal cords, and lips coordinate to make the indicated sound. Dental fricative, for example, is a fancy word for voicing the “th” sound in English (thin, this, that).

Prepare your tongue for “dental fricatives”! You won’t really need much practice though, because English has them: ?, ð. Putting the tongue up against the teeth and pushing a stream of airflow around it THis way is only done in somewhat over 7% of that world language sample. Alright, English!

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails.