when i try on google search the meaning for a word, i.e calcium meaning and i click the pronunciation icon. it sounds like khalcium. also i have heard ppl pronouncing could as khudd or khould.

shouldn't calcium be pronounced as kalcium, and could as kudd like puddings pudd with k instead of p.

pudd <-> kudd <-> could with l kind of silent.

also i have heard, cool as khool. does c have kh like sound instead of k?

same goes for p, i have heard people say power as pha-ver or phawer/phower

please guide.

1 Answer 1


What you have heard is exactly correct. The difference is not reflected in spelling, however, because native speakers of English do not hear the difference. To our ears /p/ and /ph/ are the same sound.

You hear these as different sounds because your language (or one you are familiar with—Urdu, perhaps?) distinguishes aspirated stops ph,dh,th,dh,kh,gh, which have a little puff of air when the consonant is 'released', from unaspirated versions of the same sounds which do not have the puff of air—p,b,t,b,d,g.

In your language these aspirated stops are distinct phonemes—sounds which distinguish one word from another. In English, however, they are not phonemes but merely allophones—variant versions of a phoneme which occur in specific phonetic environments.

Specifically, in English the voiceless stop phonemes ( /p/,/t/,/k/ ) are pronounced as aspirate phones ( [ph],[th],[kh] ) only at the beginning of a word or stressed syllable, and then only if they are not preceded by /s/. But in these contexts the phonemes /p/, /t/, /k/ are always aspirated.

The voiced stop phonemes /b/, /d/, /g/ are not aspirated.

  • 2
    @Bsienn Was my guess at your language right? Apr 10, 2014 at 0:41
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    Yes absolutely. i was amazed. My language is Urdu. The language spoken in Pakistan is Urdu(official) at majority (a local version of same language with different accent is called Punjabi which is spoken only in Punjab province out of 5 province) Punjabi is also spoken in India's province punjab. some inner regions of Pakistan do have their own set of local language. 2nd Official language is English which is used in documents, business and education. Apr 10, 2014 at 0:51
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    I saw you were from Pakistan - I looked up that and saw that Urdu is the official language and has phonemic aspiration, as do most Indo-Aryan languages. It was a pretty easy guess that an educated Pakistani would know Urdu! Apr 10, 2014 at 1:06
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    @Bsienn Ha ha! .. I haven't drummed in 35 years - my son does that now. Apr 10, 2014 at 1:21
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    boy o boy, there is no bigger joy then when your child follow your foot steps. Well glad to know that. P.S. (i don't have a child hehe) Apr 10, 2014 at 1:30

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