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Segment (linguistics)

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In linguistics (specifically, phonetics), the term segment may be defined as “any discrete unit that can be identified, either physically or auditorily, in the stream of speech.

By 'discrete', this means units that are separate and individual, such as consonants and vowels.

When analyzing the inventory of segmental units in any given language, some segments will be found to be marginal, in the sense that they are only found in onomatopoeic words, loan words, or a very limited number of ordinary words, but not throughout the language. Marginal segments, especially in loan words, are often the source of new segments in the general inventory of a language.

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