A completedescription should include: the production,
transmission, and receptionstages.
Themost convenient and brief descriptivetechniquecontinues
to rely on articulatory criteria(consonantsconsonants) or on auditory
judgements(vowelsvowels), or on acombination of both.
Thiscategory of soundsisnormally madewith:
◦ avoiced egressiveairstream
◦ without any closureor narrowing;
◦ theescapeof theair ischaracteristically accomplished in an unimpeded
way over themiddlelineof thetongue.
Movableorgansmainly responsiblefor shaping
- Soft palate
A description of vowel-like sounds must, therefore,
The position of the soft palate (raised)
The kind of aperture formed by the lips (degrees of
spreading or rounding)
The part of the tongue which is raised highest
The degree of raising
(confirmed by X-ray photography)
Devised by Daniel Jones
Know as the Cardinal Vowel system
The complete series includes 16 cardinal vowel values
Quite a useful scale:
(1) the vowel qualities are unrelated to particular values in
language, though they may occur in various languages;
(2) the set is recorded –constant reference to a standard, invariable
Listen to Daniel Jones saying the cardinal vowels here:
Although precise descriptions of vowels are better done auditorily, nevertheless it is
convenient to have available a rough scheme of articulatory classification.
Such a scheme is represented by the vowel diagram on the chart of the IPA.
In the case of consonantal articulations, a description must
provide answers to the following questions:
Is the airstream set in motion by the lungs or by some other means? (pulmonic or
Is the airstream forced outwards or sucked inwards? (egressive or ingressive)
Do the vocal folds vibrate or not? (voiced or voiceless)
Is the soft palate raised, directing the airstream wholly through the mouth, or lowered,
allowing the passage of air through the nose? (oral, or nasal or nasalized)
At what point or points and between what organs does closure or narrowing take
place? (place of articulation)
What is the type of closure or narrowing at the point of articulation? (manner of
EXAMPLE: / /
In the case of this sound, occurring medially in the word easy, the
following answers would be given:
(5) tongue blade – alveolar ridge
These answers provide a concise phonetic label for the sound.
EGRESSIVE PULMONIC CONSONANTS
Most speech sounds are made with egressive lung
(as we are breathing out) .
Virtually all English sounds are so made.
At any place of articulation, a consonantal
articulation may involve the vibration of the vocal
folds, i.e. may be voiced or voiceless.
PLACE OF ARTICULATION
The chief points of articulation for English consonants are the
BILABIAL: the two lips are the primary articulators, e.g.:
/ , , /
LABIODENTAL: the lower lip articulates with the upper teeth, e.g. / , /
DENTAL: the tongue tip and rims articulate with the upper teeth, e.g. / , /
ALVEOLAR: the blade, or tip and blade, of the tongue articulates with the alveolar ridge,
e.g. / , , , , /
POST-ALVEOLAR: the tip of the tongue articulates with the rear part of the alveolar
ridge, e.g. / /
PALATO-ALVEOLAR: the blade, or the tip and blade, of the tongue articulates with the
alveolar ridge and there is at the same time a raising of the front of the tongue
towards the hard palate, e.g. / , , , /
PALATAL: the front of the tongue articulates with the hard palate, e.g. / /
VELAR: the back of the tongue articulates with the soft palate, e.g. / , , /
GLOTTAL: an obstruction, or a narrowing causing friction but not vibration, between the
vocal folds, e.g. / /
For some consonantal sounds there may be a secondary
place of articulation in addition to the primary.
E.g.: dark lateral
MANNER OF ARTICULATION
The obstruction made by the organs may be total, intermittent, parcial, or merely
constitute a narrowing sufficient to cause friction. The chief types of articulation, in
decreasing degrees of closure, are as follows:
(1) COMPLETE CLOSURE:
- PLOSIVE: a complete closure at some point in the vocal tract, behind which the
air pressure builds up and can be released explosively, e.g.
- AFFRICATE: a complete closure at some point in the mouth, behind which the air
pressure builds up; the separation of organs is slow compared with that of a
plosive, so that more extended friction is a characteristic second element of the
- NASAL: a complete closure at some point in the mouth but, the soft palate being
lowered, the air escapes through the nose, e.g.
MANNER OF ARTICULATION (Cont.)
(2) INTERMITTENT CLOSURE:
- TRILL OR ROLL: a series of rapid intermittent closures made by a flexible organ on
a firmer surface, e.g. , where the tongue tip trills against the alveolar ridge as in
- TAP: a single tap made by a flexible organ on a firmer surface, e.g. where the
tongue tip taps once against the teeth ridge, as in many Scottish pronunciations of
MANNER OF ARTICULATION (Cont.)
(3) PARTIAL CLOSURE:
- LATERAL: a partial (but firm) closure is made at some point in the mouth, the
airstream being allowed to escape on one or both sides of the contact. E.g.
- FRICATIVE: two organs approximate to such an extent that the airstream passes
between them with friction, e.g.
(5) NARROWING WITHOUT FRICTION:
- APPROXIMANT (OR FRICTIONLESS CONTINUANT): a narrowing is made in the
mouth but the narrowing is not quite sufficient to cause friction. E.g. in red
FORTIS AND LENIS
A voiceless / voiced pair such as English are distinguished not
only by the presence or absence of voice but also by the degree of
breath and muscular effort involved in the articulation.
Those English consonants which are usually voiced tend to be
articulated with relatively weak energy, whereas those which are
always voiceless are relatively strong.
Indeed, in certain situations the so-called voiced consonants may have
little voicing so that the energy of articulation becomes, then, a
significan factor in distinguishing the voiced and voiceless series.
The chart of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) shows manner of articulation on
the vertical axis, place of articulation on the horizontal axis, and a pairing within each box
thus created shows voiceless consonants on the left and voiced consonants on the right.