We like to claim that all phonemes are equal, but does this stand up to scrutiny? Sadly, even in modern English, many phonemes find themselves increasingly marginalised. Consider the following:
/ŋ/ is restricted to codas, and cannot syllabify like its fellow sonorants. It’s often replaced by /n/, and some people deny that it’s a phoneme at all. In some places it still has to be accompanied by a stop at all times.
/ə/ can’t take stress, and is constantly finding itself replaced by /ʊ/, /ʌ/, /ɪ/ and even syllabic consonants.
/ð/ is restricted to medial positions, apart from a few function words. It has to share its grapheme (a digraph at that!) with /θ/, and hasn’t appeared in a new word for centuries. It lives in fear that it may one day suffer the same fate as /ʍ/.
/ʒ/ doesn’t even have a grapheme to call its own. It’s restricted to medial positions, and gets called hurtful names like “yod-
/h/ is restricted to onsets, and even there is frequently ignored. Its grapheme is constantly being taken for use in digraphs.
/x/ is generally thought of as “foreign” and can only find work in loanwords. Even then it is constantly being replaced by /k/, /h/ and even /t͡ʃ/.
Join the Campaign for Phonemic Equality, and help us fight for justice for these phonemes, as well as all those unstressed vowels that find themselves in reduced circumstances.