I just used an important but not commonly understood word in a different post: phonemic. A phoneme is a perceptually distinct unit of speech-sound: b, d, p, k … a, o … One can develop symbols, like the IPA, to record speech sounds with great precision, far greater than the normal speaker hears with. But what’s key is phonemic difference! A difference that spells the difference between whether the sounds are understood, are not understood , or are misunderstood. No just sound: crucial sound.
In English all /k/ sounds can pass for one another; ah, but in Arabic! Not so. The French have a bunch of vowel sounds — an, en, in, on … hard for non-natives to master, but essential for meaning: the difference between vu (saw) and vous (you), for example.