The Language Sounds That Could Exist, But Don't

Tom Scott
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The International Phonetic Alphabet: one sound for each symbol, and one symbol for each sound. Except for the sounds we can't make. Pull down the description for the references! MORE LANGUAGE FILES: ruvid.net/group/PL96C35uN7xGLDEnHuhD7CTZES3KXFnwm0
Written with Gretchen McCulloch and Molly Ruhl. Gretchen's new book, BECAUSE INTERNET, is available now:
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Gretchen can be found at lingthusiasm.com/
Harbeck, J. (2009). Presented at the 30th annual Editors’ Association of Canada conference, Toronto, June 6, 2009.
Algeo, J., & Pyles, T. (2004). The origins and development of the English language (5th ed.). Boston, Mass.: Thomson/Wadsworth.
Nicolaidis, Katerina (2005). "Approval of new IPA sound: the labiodental flap". Journal of the International Phonetic Association. 35 (2): 261.
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Published on


Sep 2, 2019




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Comments 80
Tom Scott
Tom Scott 11 months ago
And that's it for this run of the Language Files! Thanks to co-authors Gretchen McCulloch and Molly Ruhl, and animator Stephen Houston-Moore. And to answer the question that'll get asked ten times in response to this, these videos and comments get scheduled weeks in advance so I don't have to worry about actually being online when they launch.
waptek 23 days ago
6:09 , cZZlhalenge accepted
Amal Month ago
Not every sound got its own IPA symbol, they are written with other IPA characters with some diacritics like the Dental plosives /t̪ d̪/ Dental Nasal /n̪/ or the Voiceless alveolar trill /r̥/
Yabinn2704 Month ago
@Lu a
Amal Month ago
And how tf are you going to make a L-dental trill or a Pharyngeal Plosive
Amal Month ago
Dont most of the non native speakers pronounce /x/ as a Trill?
Alpem_Warrior 2 hours ago
"rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr" - Tom Scott, 2019
André Renault
André Renault 16 hours ago
"the IPA" time to put a beer in the fridge
julia Day ago
Anyone else just sat here making sounds at 1:38am. No just me ok
clickednebula3 2 days ago
The Vedar Trill one is the letter غ From Arabic
Michael McLane
Michael McLane 2 days ago
It'd be interesting to discover why the sounds that can be made but haven't been, haven't been made...
JB 2 days ago
Don't try saying what's in the blacked out boxes because you'll get into trouble and probably die.
an ne
an ne 3 days ago
I wish I had seen your videos when I learned for my bachelor seminars back then ^^ love your linguist videos, they are very well explained
Orion D. Hunter
Orion D. Hunter 3 days ago
and ough
Logan Snyder
Logan Snyder 4 days ago
i can do what feels like a Velar Trill (allegedly not possible) but not an Alveolar trill, how does that work?
Sonichu the Animated Series
So what do the other sounds we can make sound like though?
Max Dixon
Max Dixon 5 days ago
I wonder where beatboxers/impressionists fit in the chart??
Robert Kolesar
Robert Kolesar 5 days ago
I sounded like the dilophosaur trying to mimic the shadow areas.
Trouble Breathing
I learnt v in firstschool in 2000. Mandela effect, must be
Lizzy Delva
Lizzy Delva 6 days ago
Pizza ridge 😂 I'm going to start saying that!
bob dole
bob dole 6 days ago
i madea trill velar sound. sounds like a gargling growl.
Jackenbeast 6 days ago
4:00 Did you just... hiss at me?
apaltos 6 days ago
i got a hangnail
godbeforeme 6 days ago
Velar trills are just Wookiee speech. Tell my I’m wrong.
Arturo Ochoa
Arturo Ochoa 7 days ago
Limitations of being human. 現実: reality (genjitsu)
Malte 7 days ago
4:37 I think I can make that sound
José Rojas
José Rojas 7 days ago
I did a retroflex uvular trill, beat me.
JollyGamer 7 days ago
Still love Loughborough for having two ough sets pronounced differently
HUNT's Gaming
HUNT's Gaming 7 days ago
If you use that flappy bitt of tissue at the back of your mouth you can make the trill velar sound
Muhammad Uneeb
Muhammad Uneeb 8 days ago
3:29 ROFL
its selixio
its selixio 8 days ago
where is the dutch G i dont know where it is.
Generic Idiot
Generic Idiot 8 days ago
Secret sounds that are too spicy for English
Paris Cloud
Paris Cloud 8 days ago
5:00: doesn't Chewbacca make this sound?
Roy mercer
Roy mercer 6 days ago
what sound
runforitman 8 days ago
4:45 I can do that I think it sounds a bit like trying to cough something up
runforitman 8 days ago
actually I got it even better so it's in the exact same spot as my k
Sen Kensu
Sen Kensu 8 days ago
tf is a hiccough
Boom Kill
Boom Kill 8 days ago
mom: "why are you making such wired noises?" me:
TeaCub 2 days ago
*W i r e d*
Euan Mangan
Euan Mangan 8 days ago
I looked like such a twat trying to pull off a velar trill for like 5 minutes straight
Elkibelki 8 days ago
I do believe some beatboxer would be able to produce some of the theorized impossible sounds
edgarhons 8 days ago
Video: Here's a bunch of sounds you could make. Me: Hmm Video: Now here are sounds you'll never make Me: ƒ∂√∫∑Ω߇Ç4
Quadro 8 days ago
4:54 Perry the Platypus noises
Gian Paolo Uccelletti
3:00 didn't know the word "integral of" was a fricative
OPDestroyer 93
OPDestroyer 93 8 days ago
The shaded areas can not be spoken because it is sith language
Blayne Littleford
Vowel shift? No. I prefer Vowel Movement.
Michael Holt
Michael Holt 9 days ago
Wouldn't a Velar Trill sound something like a growl?
JesusJuenger 9 days ago
Does anyone know where on the chart the sort of "clicking" noise that you get in Zulu and some other African languages is?
Awry Media
Awry Media 9 days ago
i could do the velar trill, wasn't that crazy
Dean Anderson
Dean Anderson 9 days ago
Bro i feel like i absolutely nailed that velar trill i sound like a freaking lawn mower up in here
Dean Anderson
Dean Anderson 9 days ago
It may just be a uvular trill who knows im no expert
Ezra Ortiz
Ezra Ortiz 9 days ago
i beatbox ill make all the sounds they think arent possible
OD1N 9 days ago
K trills are possible I swear
SilentOnion 9 days ago
English is a really stupid language
Eddie 2P
Eddie 2P 9 days ago
i can do the trill g
ItzOkay__ 9 days ago
I read the title as: The language that cloud sound exist...
Yurko Pavlyuk
Yurko Pavlyuk 9 days ago
No one: Minecraft Villagers: 5:23
aoibh k
aoibh k 9 days ago
Im wondering when i make a trill sound at the back of my mouth with my uvula,, is that a glottal trill?
Clara Oswald
Clara Oswald 10 days ago
If yall wnna hear some weird sound that’s actually a letter ina language search how ř sounds
R3V3RB 10 days ago
Attempt velar trill Swallows tongue
liz d
liz d 10 days ago
me trying to pronounce all the gray boxes 👁👄👁
prodigalretrod 10 days ago
0:07 + through
The Executive Chairman Of Smart Water
You english are crazy, you say hiccough, and not hiccup
Trobanko 10 days ago
Hey I wanna die
Theo Cooper
Theo Cooper 10 days ago
Does hocking a loogie count as a Velar Trill?
John Foley
John Foley 10 days ago
I just tried a glottal lateral, now i need a fresh shirt.
Copper Jaguar
Copper Jaguar 11 days ago
Surely I'm not the only one who can make a velar trill in my throat. 5:02 btw it's not the same as gargling I'm literally trilling a G. It's possible.
Elliott Hill
Elliott Hill 11 days ago
You probably can make half the "forbidden sounds" while using the toilet.
Roy mercer
Roy mercer 9 days ago
how can you do that
Mr peterson Jefferson hugeassman
Is that the thing that pops up under words that you search up on google like definitions
Scratch-O 12 days ago
"Hiccough" will never make sense to me. Are there any other English words in which "ough" could possibly be pronounced /əp/ or /ʌp/?
Hero of Twilight
Hero of Twilight 14 days ago
I've literally pronounced every single sound the IPA said was impossible.
Roy mercer
Roy mercer 9 days ago
wait wtf
FissionLT 14 days ago
tom scott saying bu'err is the best thing ive seen all day
Brig B
Brig B 15 days ago
"Try and make a velar trill" Well i would if i knew what velar or trill meant
2Pixelated 15 days ago
You can do a Velar Trill, you don’t use skin, you use Mucas. Although I will leave all of you to judge wether or not this counts
Greg 15 days ago
Those gray areas form the synthetic alphabet that our AI overlords use to communicate to each other when the WiFi goes out.
cyan10101 15 days ago
how about British spelling vs US spelling? Aluminium and honour/colour, etc.?
Josh Combs
Josh Combs 15 days ago
I'm not sure when my vowels shifted, but I know when my bowels shifted.
ClarinoI 16 days ago
I reckon I can do a glottal lateral.
djstr0b3 17 days ago
Sinhalese language has a similar categorisation. And the alphabet contain 60 letters for different sounds.
AmberAmbitions 17 days ago
Gonna learn robotics, specialize in robotic prothesis, and build a hyper-flexible robot tongue, just to spite the IPA.
yxjgkxdwpqln 17 days ago
Dominic Hines
Dominic Hines 17 days ago
I can make a velar trill but it sounds more like an automatic firearm than anything else
N The One
N The One 18 days ago
Okay so there's these people who've made a human vocal immitation machine that is basically a functioning silicon model of a human's mouth, throat and nasal cavity. I'm now wondering if they could alter the model to make it capable of producing all the sounds deemed impossible. It could be a great way to design an alien language for a show!
Jupiter Rowe
Jupiter Rowe 18 days ago
couldnt the crusty "r" sound in french (ie, Rien, cRoissant, you know the "ckr" sound) be a velar trill?
Aidan Bishop
Aidan Bishop 4 days ago
I'm saying "cwasaunt" at 1 in the morning and the back of my throat made a trilling sound. Am I doing the impossible things?
Joseph Stoolings
Joseph Stoolings 18 days ago
A velar trill just sounds like coughing lmao
brutalnyas 18 days ago
Sentauri 18 days ago
why is it the letter c is even a thing? it makes the sounds of s and k. the only unique thing i think it does is combine with h to much the ch sound, which u could combine with another letter.
TerribleTonyShow 21 day ago
3:29 Airplane
KARRIER 21 day ago
What about beatboxers they make more noises than these
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