List of words that comprise a single sound

Languages may or may not allow words that consist of a single phoneme. Of those that do, these are generally vowels that serve as function words(grammar words, like prepositions and pronouns), such as English a and I;interjections, such as English ah! and sh!; or onomatopoeia, such as zzz…for sleeping. However, there are a smaller number of cases of content words that also consist of a single vowel sound. These are especially common in monosyllabic tonal languages such as those of East Asia. Words that consist of a single consonant sound are rarer.
This is a list of content words in various languages that comprise a single sound, in the sense that they can be written with a single letter of the International Phonetic Alphabet not counting diacritics, and that stand on their own. Only national or official languages with more than ten million speakers are included.
Notes:
  • Function words, interjections and onomatopoeia, proper names, and words which cannot stand on their own (like French a ‘(s/he) has’) are excluded from the list. With such words, contrived vowel-only sentences can be made, such as dialectal Swedish Å i åa ä e ö “And in the stream there is an island”.
  • The entries roughly follow the alphabetical order of the IPA letters, based on graphic similarity.

Vowels[edit]

Sound
(IPA)
Written
form
Meaning Language Notes
/a/ muteness Japanese obscure
/aː/ aa stream, river Dutch rare
/aː/ आ, آ come on! Hindi,[1]Persian[2] used with younger than ego
/ɐ̃ː/ big sister Vietnamese dialectical
/ɑ̃/ an year French
/ɒ̜̽/ a the Hungarian the variant used before consonants (vs. azbefore vowels)
/e/ handle, stem Japanese
/eꜜ/
1. painting, drawing
2. feed, bait
Japanese
/ē/ ê to be numb, ashamed Vietnamese
/ê/ let’s go! Vietnamese
/ě/ ế not saleable, unmarried Vietnamese
/eː/ air
ere
eyre
heir
English Australian and Irish accents
(hay, hair, hare as well in h-dropping accents)
/ɛ/ haie
ais
hedge
plank
French
/ɛ/ e this Hungarian obsolete
/ɛ̄/ e to be afraid Vietnamese
/ɛː/ child Korean
/ɝː/ err to make a mistake English
/ɤ́/ ē to defecate and urinate Mandarin colloquial
/ɤ̌/ é 1. chant a poem
2. a goose
3. a moth
4. to blackmail; erroneous
Mandarin
/ɤ̂/ è 1. hungry, to starve
2. evil; fierce; to dislike
3. to hiccup
4. to grip, control
5. harness
6. palate
7. fish hawk
8. calyx
Mandarin
/ɤ̄ː/ ơ clay pot, be indifferent Vietnamese
/ɤ̃ː/ to reside, to stay Vietnamese
/ɤ̂ˀː/ to belch Vietnamese
/i/ hie
y
hie (tool)
there, to it
French
/i/ 胃  stomach Japanese Also ‘boar’ below.
/i/ 이  1. tooth
2. louse
3. two
4. cog
Korean (Sino-Korean)
/iꜜ/





藺 
1. greatness
2. feelings, meaning
3. medicine
4. a well
5. boar
6. sleep
7. a rush
Japanese ‘boar’ is /iꜜ/ or /i/.
/î/ 1. a unit of weight
2. a line in a dancing group
3. meaning
Mandarin
/î/ ì be inert, sluggish Vietnamese
/îˀ/ defecate Vietnamese
/ī/ y to conform Vietnamese
/ĩ/ to depend on, Idesia, niche for ancestral tablets Vietnamese
/ǐ/ ý an idea, intention, circumspection Vietnamese
/o/ eau
haut
os
water
high
bones (pl)
French
/oꜜ/

1. tail, ridge
2. a male
3. cord, thread
Japanese
/ō/ ô suburb, betel box, umbrella, square Vietnamese
/ô/ to rush Vietnamese
/õ/ nest, bed Vietnamese
/ǒ/ spotted, dirty Vietnamese
/oː/ ó old Hungarian used mostly in compounds
/oː/ five Korean (Sino-Korean)
/oː/ å stream Swedish, Norwegian
/oː/ owe English Irish accent
/ø/ œufs eggs French
/øː/ ö isle Swedish
/øː/ outside Korean pronounced [weː] by many[in compounds only?]
/øː/ öö night Estonian
/øː/ ő he, she Hungarian
/øˀ/ ø island Danish
/ɔˀ/ å (small) river Danish
/ɔ̄/ o to flirt, paternal aunt/young girl, pork larynx Vietnamese
/ɔ̌/ ó eagle Vietnamese
/ɔː/ awe
haw
haw
haw
hoar
whore
oar
ore
ore
fearful respect
hawthorn berry
nictitating membrane
for a horse to turn to the left
greyish
prostitute
paddle
metal-bearing mineral
seaweed
English h- words in aitch-dropping accents,
-r words in non-rhotic accents
/œ̃/ un one French
/u/ août
houe
houx
August
hoe
holly
French août is also pronounced /ut/
/u/ 1. suddenly
2. top
Korean top is pronounced /u/ in North Korea
/u/ The Hare, in the Chinese zodiac Japanese
/uꜜ/

1. cormorant
2. get, obtain
3. bhava
Japanese (2) is an inflection of eru
/ú/ 1. house, room
2. filth, filthy, to defile
3. tungsten
4. a crow, black
5. shaman, wizard
Mandarin
/ǔ/ 1. there is not; nothing Mandarin
/ù/ 1. five
2. a dance, to dance, to flourish
3. to seal, to muffle
4.martial, valiant
5. ranks
Mandarin
/û/ 1. a thing, matter
2. mist, fog
3. an error, to miss, to harm
4. to realize
5. business, to strive for, to devote
6. to hate
7. to meet face to face
8. to warm up
Mandarin
/ū/ u mother, swollen, tumour, to swell Vietnamese
/û/ ù quickly Vietnamese
/ũ/ to keep covered for warmth, sullen Vietnamese
/ûˀ/ a mound, basin Vietnamese
/ɯ̌/ to climb, to accumulate, to exude Vietnamese
/y/ u you (polite) Dutch
/y/ eu, eue had French past participle of avoir (have)
/y/ top Korean pronounced [wi] by many
/ý/ 1. doctrinaire, abstruse
2. silt, to silt up
Mandarin
/y̌/ 1. a fish
2. the surplus
3. foolish
4. yu (a wind instrument)
5. to catch fish, usurp
6. to exceed
7. nook
Mandarin
/ỳ/ 1. to give, support
2. rain
3. language
4. feather, wing
Mandarin
/ŷ/ 1. to encounter, to treat; treatment
2. wish, desire
3. prison, lawsuit
4. recover
5. jade
6. residence; to reside
7. ravine
8. reputation; to praise
9. give birth to, raise
10. to drive a vehicle, to ward off; imperial
11. in advance; to get ready
12. taro
13. region
14. sandpiper
Mandarin

Consonants[edit]

Single consonants are much less common as words. Slavic languages have consonantal prepositions, such as Russian к/k/ ‘to’, с /s/ ‘with’, and в /v/ ‘in’, but these cannot stand on their own and so are not phonetic words.
Sound Written form Meaning Language

1. not; to hold in the mouth
2. unclear
Cantonese
ŋ̏



1. I, us
2. Firmiana simplex; support
3. centipede
4. giant flying squirrel
5. sword
Cantonese
ŋ̗

啎, 忤
1. five
2. noon
3. disobedient
5. army; associate with
Cantonese
ŋ̀


1. err, error, interfere
2. scarce
3. interview, meet
4. realize
Cantonese
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