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(2) Articulatory Phonetics

The Vocal Organs

- the respiratory system pushes air out of the lungs > the windpipe (= trachea) > the larynx > the vocal tract

- the vocal tract: the vocal cords > the oral tract within the mouth and pharynx > the nasal tract within the nose

Articulators = the parts of the vocal tract used to form sounds

- the upper lip and the upper teeth

- the alveolar ridge

- the hard palate

- the soft palate (= velum)

- the uvula

- the tongue: the tip, the blade, the front (beneath the hard palate), the centre, the back (beneath the soft palate), the root (opposite the back wall of the pharynx; the epiglottis attached to its lower part)

- two-dimensional diagrams of the vocal organs (= a mid-sagittal view)

The Phonetic Description of Speech

- the stages of a speech sound: the production stage, the transmission s., the reception s.

- consonant sounds: most easily described mainly in terms of their articulation

- vowel sounds: described mainly in terms of their auditory impressions

- phonological definition: consonants as those segments occurring at the edges of syllables, vowels as segments occurring at the centre of syllables

- x /j, w, r/: consonants phonologically, vowels phonetically (the approximants [j, w] pronounced as short versions of vowels in the [i, u] regions) => semi-vowels

The Articulation of Consonants

- factors describing the articulation of consonant sounds

(a) source of the airstream (lungs for pulmonic articulation x elsewhere for non-pulmonic a.)

(b) direction of the airstream (outwards for egressive articulation [all E sounds] x inwards for ingressive a.)

(c) state of the vocal cords (close together and vibrating for voiced sounds x apart for voiceless s.)

(d) state of the soft palate (raised for oral sounds x lowered for nasal s.)

(e) place of articulation

(f) manner of a.

(g) + central or lateral a.

- [z] in ‘easy’: pulmonic, egressive, voiced, oral, alveolar, fricative, central (= ‘voiced alveolar fricative’, the oth. points assumed unless indicated otherwise)

- the oro-nasal process: the velum separates the nasal tract from the oral tract

(a) when raised against the back wall of the pharynx = a velic closure

(b) when lowered + an obstruction in the mouth created = a nasal consonant

- classification of speech sounds accord. to their noise component

(a) obstruents = their production causes noise (stops, fricatives, affricates)

(b) sonorants = no noise (voiced nasals, approximants, and vowels)

Place of Articulation

(a) labial articulations (the lips)

- bilabial: the two lips ([p, b, m] in ‘pie, buy, my’)

- labiodental: the lower lip and the upper front teeth ([f, v] in ‘fee, vie’)

(b) coronal a. (the tongue tip or blade)

- dental: the tongue tip and the upper front teeth ([θ, ð] in ‘think, then’); + interdental: the tongue protrudes btw the teeth

- alveolar: the tongue tip or blade and the alveolar ridge ([t, d, n, s, z, l] in ‘tie, die, nigh, sigh, zeal, lie’)

- post-alveolar: the tongue tip and the back of the alveolar ridge ([ɹ] in ‘red’)

- retroflex: the tongue tip and the part of the hard palate immediately behind the alveolar ridge ([ɻ] in ‘rye, row, raw’), not used by many speakers at all

- palato-alveolar: the tongue blade and the back of the alveolar ridge ([ʃ, ʒ, tʃ, dʒ] in ‘sheep, measure, cheap, jump’)

(c) dorsal a. (the back of the tongue)

- palatal: the front of the tongue and the hard palate ([j] in ‘you’); coronal or dorsal a.

- velar: the back of the tongue and the soft palate ([k, g, ŋ] in ‘hack, hag, hang’)

- glottal: an obstruction or a narrowing causing friction but not vibration ([h] in ‘house’)

- a secondary place of articulation in addition to the primary: e.g. the raising of the back of the tongue twd the velum in addition to the alveolar contact in the velarized [ł]

Manner of Articulation

(a) complete closure

- stop, or, plosive [p, b, t, d, k, g, m, n, ŋ]

= complete closure of the articulators preventing the airflow to escape through the mouth

- oral stop = ‘stop’: the velum raised, the nasal tract blocked off (‘pie, buy’ [bilabial closure]; ‘tie, dye’ [alveolar c.]; ‘key, guy’ [velar c.])

- nasal s. = ‘nasal’: the velum lowered, the nasal tract free (‘my’ [bilabial closure], ‘nigh’ [alveolar c.], ‘sang’ [velar c.])

- affricate [tʃ, dʒ]

= a stop immediately followed by a fricative (‘cheap, judge’)

(b) intermittent closure

- trill, or, roll [r]

= a series of rapid intermittent closures made by a flexible organ on a firmer surface

- e.g. the trill of the tongue tip against the alveolar ridge (Scott. E: ‘rye, raw’)

- tap, or, flap [ɾ]

= a single tap of made by a flexible organ on a firmer surface

- e.g. the tap of the tongue against the alveolar ridge (GA: ‘letter’)

(c) partial closure

- lateral (= lateral approximant) [l]

= incomplete closure btw one or both sides of the tongue and the roof of the mouth (‘lie’ [alveolar lateral])

(d) narrowing

- fricative [f, v, θ, ð, s, z, ʃ, ʒ, x, h]

= close approximation producing a turbulent airflow (‘fee, vie’ [labiodental]; ‘thigh, thy’ [dental]; ‘sigh, zoo’ [alveolar]; ‘shy’ [palato-alveolar])

- sibilants: the higher-pitched fricatives with a more obvious hiss (‘sigh, shy’)

(e) narrowing without friction

- approximant [j, w]

= approximation producing no turbulent airflow (‘yacht’ [the front of the tongue + the palatal area], ‘we’ [lips + the velar area])

The Articulation of Vowels

- factors describing the articulation of vowel sounds

(a) the position of the soft palate

- raised for oral vowels x lowered for nasalized v.

(b) the degree of spreading or rounding of the lips

- rounded vowels [æ, o, ɒ, ɔ, u, ʊ] x unrounded v. [i, ɪ, e, ε, з, a, ʌ, ɑ, ə]

(c) the height of the body of the tongue

- high vowels [i, u] in ‘heed, food’ x mid-high v. [ɪ, ʊ] in ‘hid, good’ x mid-low v. [ε] in ‘head’ x low v. [æ, ɑ] in ‘had, father’

(d) the front-back position of the tongue

- front vowels [i, ɪ, e, ε, a, æ] x back v. [ɔ, ʊ, o, u]

(e) relatively pure vs. gliding vowels

- relatively pure vowels: unchanging, e.g. the vowel in ‘learn’

- gliding vowels: diphthongal, e.g. the vowel in ‘line’

Základní údaje

  • Předmět

  • Semestr

    Zimní semestr 2002/03.
  • Vyučující

    Šárka Šimáčková.
  • Status

    Povinný seminář a přednáška.


Cruttenden, Alan, ed. Gimson's Pronunciation of English. London: Edward Arnold, 1998.

Ladefoged, Peter. A Course in Phonetics. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College Publishers, 1993.


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