Sounds produced by the voice are unlimited. When learning to speak, a child becomes unable to articulate those words that do not belong to his/her linguistic system, thus losing a “natural aptitude” in favor of a “cultural ability”. (Jakobson)
Sounds alone have no linguistic value, that is to say, no meaning. But when they are selected by a language, they acquire a phonetic value and the sound universe becomes phonological.
Phonemes are the smallest units composing a spoken language. French counts 37 phonemes including 19 vowel sounds (16 vowels and 3 semi-vowels).
Letters are units of the alphabet that, alone or combined with other letters, participate in the constitution of the grapheme.
Graphemes are the smallest units of a writing system consisting of all the written symbols or sequences of written symbols that are used to represent a single phoneme.
In poetry, the term “rhyme” is the return of the same sound at the end of a verse or phrase. A “rhyme” consists of the last accentuated vowel followed by a consonant. Silent e does not count.
When the vowel sound is the same, but not the consonant sound that follows, it is not a “rhyme” but an “assonance”.
Here is an example of a nursery rhyme:
- Rain, rain, go away, come again another day!
Little children want to play, rain, rain, go away!
The noun “assonance” comes from the Latin word adsonare: "to respond to sound by another sound", in other words, "to echo").
It is a figure of speech that consists of the repetition of the same vowel sound (phoneme) in several words grouped together to reinforce the meaning of words or to create a mood.
Here is an example of a text with assonances otherwise known as phonics :
- Jimmy is a tiny kid. The mean kids bully him. Little Jimmy wishes to be big!
Web Dictionary Definition: "The commencement of two or more stressed syllables of a word group either with the same consonant sound, or sound group."
Here is an example of an alliteration with consonant c:
- Crabs and crocodiles are creepy crawly creatures.
One of the fun features of alliteration is when it becomes a tongue twister. Here is an example of a tongue twister with consonant b:
- A big black bug bit the blue beetle but the blue beetle bit the big black bug back.
Some tongue twisters combine rhymes, assonances, alliterations and consonances. Here are two examples:
- Pitter patter, pitter patter!
- If two witches were watching two watches, which witch would watch which watch?
Beware, an “assonance” is:
• neither a “consonance” consisting of the repetition of the consonants in words.
• nor an “alliteration”, a special case of consonance, consisting of the repetition of the initial consonant of a word.
Traditionally, rhymes and assonances are very much part of the children's language world under the name of nursery rhymes. But consonance has a specific place. It has been since ancient times to emphasise or imitate a sound in formal poetry and in modern days authors use consonances to give a creative tongue-twister effect.
Sound, Phoneme, Letter & Grapheme
Rhyme, Assonance, Consonance & Alliteration
Phonology, Phonological Awareness
& Phoneme Awareness
Phonology is the study of how speech sounds are used in English and other languages.
Phonological Awareness is a general term describing a person's awareness that spoken words are made up of sounds. These sounds can be rearranged to make other words. This might seem obvious to some children but many of them need to be taught this technique. It is essential for developing reading skills.
Phoneme Awareness is essential in order to comprehend phonics. Hearing the distinct sounds must be done before identifying which sounds belong to the letters which represent the sounds.