Phonemes are the small units of sound used in speech. They are either vowel or consonant sounds. Linguists use phonetic symbols to represent speech sounds, distinguishing them from variations in spelling. Phonemes are represented by symbols between two slashes.
These are the vowel phonemes of New Zealand English. The keywords in capital letters are the agreed way of describing particular phonemes. The descriptive words under 'tongue' and 'lips' show where the tongue is placed in the mouth when saying these vowel phonemes and how the lips are shaped. 'Length' refers to the length of the vowel sounds. Examples of words including each vowel phoneme are given at the end of the table.
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Source: Jennifer Hay, Margaret Maclagan and Elizabeth Gordon, New Zealand English. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2008, p. 22.