Consonants

February 5, 2010 at 3:50 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Manner of articulation
In linguistics (articulatory phonetics), manner of articulation describes how the tongue, lips, jaw, and other speech organs are involved in making a sound make contact. Often the concept is only used for the production of consonants. For any place of articulation, there may be several manners, and therefore several homorganic consonants.

Individual manners
Plosive, or oral stop, where there is complete occlusion (blockage) of both the oral and nasal cavities of the vocal tract, and therefore no air flow. Examples include English /p t k/ (voiceless) and /b d g/ (voiced). If the consonant is voiced, the voicing is the only sound made during occlusion; if it is voiceless, a plosive is completely silent. What we hear as a /p/ or /k/ is the effect that the onset of the occlusion has on the preceding vowel, and well as the release burst and its effect on the following vowel. The shape and position of the tongue (the place of articulation) determine the resonant cavity that gives different plosives their characteristic sounds. All languages have plosives.
Nasal stop, usually shortened to nasal, where there is complete occlusion of the oral cavity, and the air passes instead through the nose. The shape and position of the tongue determine the resonant cavity that gives different nasal stops their characteristic sounds. Examples include English /m, n/. Nearly all languages have nasals, the only exceptions being in the area of Puget Sound and a single language on Bougainville Island.
Fricative, sometimes called spirant, where there is continuous frication (turbulent and noisy airflow) at the place of articulation. Examples include English /f, s/ (voiceless), /v, z/ (voiced), etc. Most languages have fricatives, though many have only an /s/. However, the Indigenous Australian languages are almost completely devoid of fricatives of any kind.
Sibilants are a type of fricative where the airflow is guided by a groove in the tongue toward the teeth, creating a high-pitched and very distinctive sound. These are by far the most common fricatives. Fricatives at coronal (front of tongue) places of articulation are usually, though not always, sibilants. English sibilants include /s/ and /z/.
Lateral fricatives are a rare type of fricative, where the frication occurs on one or both sides of the edge of the tongue. The “ll” of Welsh and the “hl” of Zulu are lateral fricatives.
Affricate, which begins like a plosive, but this releases into a fricative rather than having a separate release of its own. The English letters “ch” and “j” represent affricates. Affricates are quite common around the world, though less common than fricatives.
Flap, often called a tap, is a momentary closure of the oral cavity. The “tt” of “utter” and the “dd” of “udder” are pronounced as a flap in North American English. Many linguists distinguish taps from flaps, but there is no consensus on what the difference might be. No language relies on such a difference. There are also lateral flaps.
Trill, in which the articulator (usually the tip of the tongue) is held in place, and the airstream causes it to vibrate. The double “r” of Spanish “perro” is a trill. Trills and flaps, where there are one or more brief occlusions, constitute a class of consonant called rhotics.
Approximant, where there is very little obstruction. Examples include English /w/ and /r/. In some languages, such as Spanish, there are sounds which seem to fall between fricative and approximant.
One use of the word semivowel, sometimes called a glide, is a type of approximant, pronounced like a vowel but with the tongue closer to the roof of the mouth, so that there is slight turbulence. In English, /w/ is the semivowel equivalent of the vowel /u/, and /j/ (spelled “y”) is the semivowel equivalent of the vowel /i/ in this usage. Other descriptions use semivowel for vowel-like sounds that are not syllabic, but do not have the increased stricture of approximants. These are found as elements in diphthongs. The word may also be used to cover both concepts.
Lateral approximants, usually shortened to lateral, are a type of approximant pronounced with the side of the tongue. English /l/ is a lateral. Together with the rhotics, which have similar behavior in many languages, these form a class of consonant called liquids.

Place of articulation
In articulatory phonetics, the place of articulation (also point of articulation) of a consonant is the point of contact, where an obstruction occurs in the vocal tract between an active (moving) articulator (typically some part of the tongue) and a passive (stationary) articulator (typically some part of the roof of the mouth). Along with the manner of articulation and phonation, this gives the consonant its distinctive sound.

A place of articulation is defined as both the active and passive articulators. For instance, the active lower lip may contact either a passive upper lip (bilabial, like [m]) or the upper teeth (labiodental, like [f]). The hard palate may be contacted by either the front or the back of the tongue. If the front of the tongue is used, the place is called retroflex; if back of the tongue (“dorsum”) is used, the place is called “dorsal-palatal”, or more commonly, just palatal.

There are five basic active articulators: the lip (“labial consonants”), the flexible front of the tongue (“coronal consonants”), the middle/back of the tongue (“dorsal consonants”), the root of the tongue together with the epiglottis (“radical consonants”), and the larynx (“laryngeal consonants”). These articulators can act independently of each other, and two or more may work together in what is called coarticulation (see below).

The passive articulation, on the other hand, is a continuum without many clear-cut boundaries. The places linguolabial and interdental, interdental and dental, dental and alveolar, alveolar and palatal, palatal and velar, velar and uvular merge into one another, and a consonant may be pronounced somewhere between the named places.

In addition, when the front of the tongue is used, it may be the upper surface or blade of the tongue that makes contact (“laminal consonants”), the tip of the tongue (“apical consonants”), or the under surface (“sub-apical consonants”). These articulations also merge into one another without clear boundaries.

Consonants that have the same place of articulation, such as the alveolar sounds — n, t, d, s, z, l — in English, are said to be homorganic.

A homorganic nasal rule is a case where the point of articulation of the initial sound is assimilated by the last sound in a prefix. An example of this rule is found in language Yoruba, where ba, “hide”, becomes mba, “is hiding”, while sun, “sleep”, becomes nsun, “is sleeping”.

List of places where the obstruction may occur
Bilabial: between the lips
Labiodental: between the lower lip and the upper teeth
Dentolabial: between the upper lip and the lower teeth
Linguolabial: between the front of the tongue and the upper lip
Dental: between the front of the tongue and the top teeth
Alveolar: between the front of the tongue and the ridge behind the gums (the alveolus)
Postalveolar: between the front of the tongue and the space behind the alveolar ridge
Retroflex: in “true” retroflexes, the tongue curls back so the underside touches the palate
Palatal: between the middle of the tongue and the hard palate
Velar: between the back of the tongue and the soft palate (the velum)
Uvular: between the back of the tongue and the uvula (which hangs down in the back of the mouth)

(All of the above may be nasalized, and most may be lateralized.)
Pharyngeal: between the root of the tongue and the back of the throat (the pharynx)
Epiglotto-pharyngeal: between the epiglottis and the back of the throat
Epiglottal: between the aryepiglottic folds and the epiglottis (see larynx)
Glottal: at the glottis (see larynx)

Nasals and laterals
In nasals, the velum is lowered to allow air to pass through the nose (technically a place, but generally considered as a manner of articulation[citation needed])
In laterals, the air is released past the tongue sides and teeth rather than over the tip of the tongue. English has only one lateral, /l/, but many languages have more than one, e.g. Spanish written “l” vs. “ll”; Hindi with dental, palatal, and retroflex laterals; and numerous Native American languages with not only lateral approximants, but also lateral fricatives and affricates. Some Northeast Caucasian languages have five, six, or even seven lateral consonants.

VPM
VOICE-PLACE-MANNER of articulation

In the International Phonetic Alphabet consonant (pulmonic) chart you will see that eleven places of articulation are displayed: bilabial (consonants made with both lips in contact); labiodental (consonants made with contact between the lower lip and upper teeth); and so on.

These places of articulation are cross referenced with the way, or manner in which the sounds are produced. There are eight manners of articulation: plosive (or stop) consonants in which the air-flow is stopped abruptly by the articulators; nasals, in which the air flows down the nose; fricatives in which friction is created by the air passing through lightly touching articulators; and so on.

The chart also indicates which consonants are voiced (like b, d, g, v, z, etc.) and which are voiceless (like p, t, k, f, s, etc.). Where you see pairs of sounds (or voiced and voiceless cognates) the voiceless sound is on the left, and the voiced one on the right. When a voiced sound is produced the vocal cords in the larynx (voice box) vibrate. When a voiceless sound is produced the vocal cords do not vibrate.

All the consonants of English can be classified in terms of “VPM” (voice-place-manner). For instance, /f/ is a voiceless labiodental fricative, and /b/ is a voiced bilabial plosive (stop).

Some authorities claim one or two fewer consonants than I have shown above, regarding those with double symbols (/tʃ/ and /dʒ/) as “diphthong consonants” in Potter’s phrase. The list omits one sound that is not strictly a consonant but works like one. The full IPA list of phonetic symbols includes some for non-pulmonic consonants (not made with air coming from the lungs), click and glottal sounds. In some varieties of English, especially in the south of Britain (but the sound has migrated north) we find the glottal plosive or glottal stop, shown by the symbol /ʔ/ (essentially a question mark without the dot at the tail). This sound occurs in place of /t/ for some speakers – so /botəl/ or /botl/ (bottle) become /boʔəl/ or /boʔl/.

We form consonants by controlling or impeding the egressive (outward) flow of air. We do this with the articulators – from the glottis, past the velum, the hard palate and alveolar ridge and the tongue, to the teeth and lips. The sound results from three things:
voicing – causing the vocal cords to vibrate
where the articulation happens
how the articulation happens – how the airflow is controlled

Voicing

All vowels must be voiced – they are caused by vibration in the vocal cords. But consonants may be voiced or not. Some of the consonant sounds of English come in pairs that differ in being voiced or not – in which case they are described as voiceless or unvoiced. So /b/ is voiced and /p/ is the unvoiced consonant in one pair, while voiced /g/ and voiceless /k/ form another pair.

We can explain the consonant sounds by the place where the articulation principally occurs or by the kinds of articulation that occurs there. The first scheme gives us this arrangement:

Articulation described by region
Glottal articulation – articulation by the glottis. We use this for one consonant in English. This is /h/ in initial position in house or hope.
Velar articulation – we do this with the back of the tongue against the velum. We use it for initial hard /g/ (as in golf) and for final /ŋ/ (as in gong).
Palatal articulation – we do this with the front of the tongue on the hard palate. We use it for /dʒ/ (as in jam) and for /ʃ/ (as in sheep or sugar).
Alveolar articulation – we do this with the tongue blade on the alveolar ridge. We use it for /t/ (as in teeth), /d/ (as in dodo) /z/ (as in zebra) /n/ (as in no) and /l/ (as in light).
Dental articulation – we do this with the tip of the tongue on the back of the upper front teeth. We use it for /θ/ (as in think) and /ð/ (as in that). This is one form of articulation that we can observe and feel ourselves doing.
Labio-dental articulation – we do this with the lower lip and upper front teeth. We use it for /v/ (as in vampire).
Labial articulation – we do this with the lips for /b/ (as in boat) and /m/ (as in most). Where we use two lips (as in English) this is bilabial articulation.

Articulation described by manner
This scheme gives us a different arrangement into stop(or plosive) consonants, affricates, fricatives, nasal consonants, laterals and approximants.
Stop consonants (so-called because the airflow is stopped) or plosive consonants (because it is subsequently released, causing an outrush of air and a burst of sound) are:
Bilabial voiced /b/ (as in boat) and voiceless /p/ (as in post)
Alveolar voiced /d/ (as in dad) and voiceless /t/ (as in tap)
Velar voiced /g/ (as in golf) and voiceless /k/ (as in cow)
Affricates are a kind of stop consonant, where the expelled air causes friction rather than plosion. They are palatal /tʃ/ (as in cheat) and palatal /dʒ/ (as in jam)
Fricatives come from restricting, but not completely stopping, the airflow. The air passes through a narrow space and the sound arises from the friction this produces. They come in voiced and unvoiced pairs:
Labio-dental voiced /v/ (as in vole) and unvoiced /f/ (as in foal)
Dental voiced /ð/ (as in those) and unvoiced /θ/ (as in thick)
Alveolar voiced /z/ (as in zest) and unvoiced /s/ (as in sent)
Palatal voiced /ʒ/ (as in the middle of leisure) and unvoiced /ʃ/ (as at the end of trash)
Nasal consonants involve closing the articulators but lowering the uvula, which normally closes off the route to the nose, through which the air escapes. There are three nasal consonants in English:
Bilabial /m/ (as in mine)
Alveolar /n/ (as in nine)
Velar /ŋ/ (as at the end of gong)
Lateral consonants allow the air to escape at the sides of the tongue. In English there is only one such sound, which is alveolar /l/ (as at the start of lamp)
Approximants do not impede the flow of air. They are all voiced but are counted as consonants chiefly because of how they function in syllables. They are:
Bilabial /w/ (as in water)
Alveolar /r/ (as in road)
Palatal /j/ (as in yet)

/p/ voiceless bilabial stop /sʌpər/ supper
/b/ voiced bilabial stop /bai/ by /klʌb/ club
/t/ voiceless alveolar stop /betər/ better
/d/ voiced alveolar stop /ædiŋ/ adding
/k/ voiceless velar stop /lukiŋ/ looking
/g/ voiced velar stop /gein/ gain
/tʃ/ voiceless alveo-palatal affricate /tʃu:z/ choose
/dჳ/ voiced alveo-palatal affricate /dჳʌdჳ/ judge
/f/ voiceless labio-dental fricative /flai/ fly
/v/ voiced labio-dental fricative /lʌv/ love
/θ/ voiceless inter-dental fricative /θiŋ/ thing
/ð/ voiced inter-dental fricative /ðen/ then
/s/ voiceless alveolar fricative /lisən/ listen
/z/ voiced alveolar fricative /bizi:/ busy
// voiceless alveo-palatal fricative /fi/ fish
/ჳ/ voiced alveo-palatal fricative /meჳər/ measure
/m/ voiced bilabial nasal /neim/ name
/n/ voiced alveolar nasal /nʌn/ none
/ŋ/ voiced velar nasal /siŋiŋ/ singing
/l/ voiced alveolar lateral /bɔl/ ball
/r/ voiced retroflex vibrant /mæri:/ marry
/h/ voiceless glottal fricative /hænd/ hand
/w/ voiced bilabial semi-vowel /louər/ lower
/j/ voiced palatal semi-vowel /jes/ yes

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