A phoneme is any sound that is used in a meaningful way by a specific language. The International Phonetic Alphabet lists all possible phonemes in human language and all humans are capable of making all phonemes. However, each language has a set number of phonemes. Therefore, people studying a new language can struggle to produce sounds that are not phonemic in their first language. For example, /i/ is the vowel in the English word beet and /ɪ/ is the vowel in bit. Both of these vowels are phonemes in English because they make a meaningful difference in a word. However, in Spanish, these sounds are not both phonemic because replacing one with the other does not change the meaning. In Spanish, they are regarded as slight variations of the same sound.
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