Contemporary Linguistics By: William O’Grady Essential Linguistics By: David E. Freeman & Yvonne S. Freeman Essential Linguistics Chapter 3 – “English Phonology” Graphic Organizer Part II Contemporary Linguistics Chapter 2 – “Phonetics: The Sounds of Language” Andrea Derr
Phonetics & the IPA!
Phonetics is a branch of linguistics.
The definition of phonetics is the study of the sounds of human language.
The human language is made up of a large variety of sounds, which are also know as “phones”.
The International Phonetic Alphabet is widely used to transcribe the sounds of the human language. It has been evolving since 1888. It attempts to represent each sound of human speech with a single symbol.
The symbols of the IPA are found enclosed in brackets, [ ]
Sounds of language…
The sounds of language fall into two major groups :
If the sound is voiceless, the vocal folds are spread. If it is voiced, the vocal folds are closed.
You can determine this by holding your hand up to your throat while saying a specific sound. If vibrations are felt, it is voiced. If nothing is felt, it is voiceless.
Sounds can also be categorized as oral or nasal.
Consonants! -Consonants are produced at various “places of articulation”.
These include: labial, dental, alveolar, alveopalatal, palatal, velar, uvular, glottal, and pharyngeal.
Labial * Bilabial * Labiodental
Labial = any sound made with closure or near-closure of the lips.
If both lips are involved it is considered bilabial, such as the beginning sounds in ‘peer’ or ‘month’.
Sounds including the lower lip and the upper teeth are called labiodentals, such as the beginning sounds in ‘fever’ or ‘vow’.
Consonants that fall under the category of one of these points of articulation are: [p], [b], ]m], [f], [v]
Dental * Interdental
Dental = produced with the tongue placed against or near the teeth.
Interdental occurs when the tongue is placed between the teeth, like in the beginning sounds in ‘thing’ or ‘then’.
Consonants that fall under this category of points of articulation are: [θ], [ð]
The alveolar ridge is located just behind the upper front teeth.
When the tongue touches or is brought near this ridge, the alveolar sounds are heard.
For example, the words ‘deer’, ‘neck’, and ‘soap’ all start with alveolar consonants.
Consonants that fall into the alveolar category are: [t], [d], [n], [s], [z]
Alveopalatal * Palatal
Just behind the alveolar ridge, the roof of your mouth rises up sharply. This is known as the alveopalatal area.
These alveopalatalsounds can be heard in words such as ‘ship’, ‘judge’, and ‘chip’.
The alveopalatalconsonants include: [ʃ], [ʒ], [tʃ], [dʒ]
The highest part of the roof of the mouth is called the palate and sounds produced here or nearby are called palatal.
For example, the word ‘yes’ begins with a palatal sound.
Velar * Uvular * Glottal
The soft area towards the rear of the roof of the mouth is called the velum, and sounds produced with the tongue touching near this position are called velars.
You can hear a velar at the beginning of the words ‘call’ and ‘guy’. A velar sound can also be heard at the end of the word ‘hang’.
Velar consonants include: [k], [g], and [ŋ]
The “ball” hanging in your throat is better known as the uvula.
Sounds made with the tongue touching or near this area are known as uvular.
We have no examples of these sounds in the English language.
Glottal sounds are produced using the vocal folds as primary articulators.
The sound in the beginning of the words ‘heave’ and ‘hog’ are produced in the glottis.
Manners of articulation
There are three different manners of articulation:
1.) Stops (Oral, Glottal, Nasal)
[p], [b], [m], [t], [d], [n], [k], [g], [ŋ], [ʔ]
[f], [v], [s], [z], [h], [θ], [ð], [ʃ], [ʒ]
(O’Grady, 25-29) and (Freeman, 61-64)
Stop, fricatives, and affricatives… oh my!
Stops are made with a complete closure, either in the oral cavity or at the glottis. Many of the phones that are categorized as stops produce a sudden puff of air.
You can test this by placing your hand in front of your mouth while making the sounds: p, t, k, b, d, g. The ‘nasal’ stops are : m, n, and ŋ.
Fricatives are consonants produced with a continuous airflow through the mouth. This is a large group of consonants. The following sounds fall under this category: f, v, s, z, h, ʒ, ʃ, θ, ð.
Affricatives occur when a stop articulation is released, and the tongue moves rapidly away from the point of articulation. For example, the words church and jump contain affricatives. Some examples are: tʃ, dʒ
(O’Grady, 25-26) and (Freeman, 61-64)
On to the vowels…
Vowels are described with reference to the tongue position; either high, low, front, or back.
They are also described based on the tensions, which is either tense or lax.
And finally depending on the lip rounding, either rounded or unrounded. (O’Grady, 34-35)
Diphthongs are vowels that exhibit a change in quality within a single syllable.
These can be realized through change in tongue or lip movement when pronouncing a word.
For example, note the change in your lips when you pronounce the words “boy”, “my”, “say”, “grow” and “now”.
Pitch, loudness, and length! Oh the stress!
“All phone have certain inherent suprasegmental or prosodic properties that form part of their makeup no matter what their place or manner of articulation. These properties are pitch, loudness, and length” (O’Grady, 40)
Stress is a term used to describe the combined effects of pitch, loudness, and length.
In certain words, different syllables get the stress. This is marked in a word by primary stress and secondary stress.
Freeman, D.E., & Freeman, Y.S. (2004). Essential Linguistics: What You Need to Know to Teach. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
O’Grady, W., Dovrolsky. M., & Aronoff, M. (Eds.) (2004). Contemporary Linguistics:
An Introduction (5th Edition). Bedford: St. Martin’s.