There are two things I've noticed:
- Every language has only finitely many sounds in it
- IPA, which is a notation for representing all possible sounds in all possible languages, has only finitely many symbols in it.
I think I understand why the first is true. I think it's related to the argument that's often made in favour of digital communication over analogue communication. Digital communication is able to correct for noise while analogue is not.
I don't understand why the second point is true though. Why does IPA have only finitely many symbols? Isn't the human voice box capable of making infinitely many different sounds? The shape of the tongue in the mouth can surely be varied continuously, allowing for infinitely many different sounds.
Maybe I'm finding it hard to phrase my question: The question is less about IPA and more about whether what IPA is trying to do is even possible. Is it possible to create a notation for every possible sound in every possible language? Can a language be invented whose sounds cannot be accurately represented using the existing IPA?