Weird Phonemes - pronouncing the world's rarest sounds

  • Published on:  12/30/2016
  • Human languages have some strange sounds. Can you pronounce the world's rarest ones? Join me for some language show-and-tell before we get back to more linguistic tales next year.

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    After saying "velar" in the pharyngeals section, you hear me make a sound that's actually a UVULAR fricative. - Thanks, Carl Bille!

    Redditer languagejones states that my /!/ is wrong, as I pronounced it by doing what some San scholars call "flopping". Take this into account if you're trying to reproduce the sound.

    I'm not sure how far off my pharyngeals were. Arabic speakers commented that they're not quite right. The linguistics gets complicated here, since some argue Arabic does not have "true" pharyngeals, in which case I could be doubly wrong! Best to do a bit more digging if you're trying to master either (1) the Arabic epiglottals or (2) a language with pharyngeals.

    ~ Overview (SPOILER FREE!) ~

    I went looking for the oddest speech sounds. That's what happens when you give language nerds free time. I didn't have to go far, since had a good start with its chapter on uncommon consonants. WALS is a resource many in this community are already familiar with, but I recommend it if you aren't.

    So, what kinds of sounds tend NOT to occur in the world's languages? Which languages have them? Ooh, and although most of them are found in lesser known languages, which ones happen to be used in English? WATCH FOR ALL ANSWERS!

    You can also read the WALS chapter for info and stats. But I've scrounged up even more, some of which are rarer than the consonant places/manners of articulation in their post.

    ~ CREDITS ~
    Art, animation and narration by Josh from NativLang.
    Some of the music, too.

    Sources and full credits for images, sfx, fonts and music: