A phoneme is a term used to describe a perceptually distinct unit of sound (Zsiga, 2013, p. 204) and are the smallest units of speech which can distinguish one word from another. The term phoneme is also used to refer to the set of sounds within a “family,” also called allophones, which are not perceptually distinct.


Hul’q’umi’num’: The following example provides a list of phonemes in Hul’qumi’num. that is, they are all separate and unique speech sounds.

Suttles (2004) provides a list of consonants found in Hul’qumi’num which can be classified as phonemes. The segments in square brackets, braces, and parentheses have a uncertain phonemic status (p. 3). It should also be noted that vowels sounds are also possible phonemes.


Gibson (1973) provides a list of consonants in Secwepemctsin which are therefor phonemes of the language. Sounds enclosed in parentheses only occur rarely (p. 2).


Dyck (2004) provides an overview of the sound inventory of Skwxwú7mesh for both vowels and consonants. Each can be classified as a phoneme (p. 6).