Posts Tagged ‘phonemes’

“The smaller the mind the greater the conceit.”

Small has taken a traditional beating on the great world stage. Diminutive people are mocked, small-mindedness is scorned, ants and bacteria shunned. Small creatures are overlooked, small features ridiculed, small amounts and small accounts ill-regarded.

But small can be very good! Think poppy seeds. Consider rain drops. The truth is also fine in small doses, especially the truth about myself.

Small thoughts are powerful; we all love a proverb. I particularly like the miniaturization of meaning. I adore phonemes.

A phoneme is the smallest contrastive, meaning-laden linguistic scrap that carries us through each day. /oʊ/ as in the great “No!” is one of the most powerful phonemes; greater yet is /e/.

Consider the phonemes /s/ and /l/: they alone carry the significant difference between the the words “kill” and “kiss.” I am particularly fond of that difference.

One of the world’s most common phonemes is /i:/. /i:/ is so fun!

“Look at me,” shouts super /iː/ “Whoopee! I’m beep, receipt, feat and belief; I’m ‘Oh, baby!’, superb ‘Very!’, I am the sound of happy /iː/!”

/ i:/ is such a showoff!

I urge you, my great friends, think small, observe minuscule differences, think at the microscopic, subatomic, super-phonemic level. You’ll be entertained — more.

For more of my thoughts on the fun and wonder found in phonemes, visit my modern proverbs blog at where I have written a set of proverbs about phonemes.