I remember hearing a few years ago that English had 8,000 different sounds, and it's something that has stuck with me this entire time. I've started to question this knowledge, since googling various search terms yields only a single non-academic result:


There seem to only be '44 key sounds' in English, based on search results. This seems more correct.

There is at least one other person who seems to think that there are 8,000 sounds in the English language? If this assertion is hopelessly incorrect, where do you think this assertion comes from?

It seems to be something akin to the myth that humans only use 10% of their brain.


  • 1
    Maybe the number of syllables? Here is a site which quotes somebody as saying that there are 8000 syllables in English. – Peter Shor Mar 24 '17 at 12:09
  • Perhaps. This is the website where I originally got the idea, I believe: blog.zerocalvin.com/easy-peasy-japanese-pronunciation-guide In the context of Japanese, which consists of syllabaries, then this is most likely what is meant. – ILoveWindows10 Mar 24 '17 at 12:36
  • It had 8000 until just now. I added another. – Drew Mar 24 '17 at 17:03

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.