Confusing Linguistic Terminology: English

  When I started learning languages (being British) I had never heard so much as a single mention of IPA or other such linguistic terminology like Place/Manner of Articulation in my language classes. Figuring that there might be a lot of you out there in the same position as I was, I thought I’d do a simple guide to these words and what they mean on our blog.

As promised, here is the second part of the way we create consonant sounds in English. In this post I will explain manner of articulation, the second step vital to creating consonant sounds in English.

  So, what is Manner of Articulation?

Well I’m glad you asked! You might remember from our last post that place of articulation is where we obstruct air flowing when we create a consonant (e.g. by bringing both of our lips together/by bringing our tongue to the roof of our mouth etc.). Well manner of articulation is quite simply how much air we obstruct when we make a sound.

In English there are 6 manners of articulation.
These are: Nasal
Plosive/Stop
Fricative
Affricate
Approximant
Lateral

MannerofArticulation  Once again I really encourage you to say these sounds as you learn about them to help you understand what I’m talking about. And with that, let’s get started! 🙂

1) Nasal
Nasal consonants occur when you completely block airflow through your mouth (by bringing both your lips together and using the bilabial place of articulation) and let the air flow through your nose.
These sounds are:
[m] (as in moist)
[n]  (as in noodle)
[ŋ]  (as in minger)

2) Plosive/Stop
Plosive (also known as stop) sounds are created when airflow is completely blocked  for a moment, building up pressure behind the articulators, before the air is then released in one quick burst.
These sounds are:
[b]  (as in bobble)
[p]  (as in pebble)
[d]  (as in doddle)
[t]   (as in toddler)
[k]  (as in sock)
[g]  (as in gaggle)

3) Fricative
Fricative sounds are made when air is only partially obstructed on its way through the vocal tract. This then forces air to flow down a much more restricted channel, causing a sound created in part by friction (hence fricative).
These sounds are:
[f]  (as in kerfuffle)
[v]  (as in vulcanodon)
[s]  (as in slobber)
[z]  (as in zesty)
[ʃ]   (as in shingle)
[ʒ]   (as in measure)
[θ]   (as in Thor)
[ð]   (as in rather)

4) Affricate
Affricate consonants happen when there’s basically a mash-up of stop and fricative consonants.
These sounds are:
[tʃ]   (as in chunder)
[dʒ]  (as in bodge tape)

5) Approximant
Approximant sounds are a bit of a grey area. You may quite rightly have noticed in my last post that the Standard English [ɹ] as in ‘run’ sound was not included and that [w] as in ‘water’ was placed as a velar sound despite also using your lips. Furthermore [j] as in ‘yes’ was considered palatal despite the fact that your tongue never really touches your hard palate when creating that sound, just comes very close.
Well these are all approximant sounds, meaning that two articulators will come close together, but not close enough to touch, and not close enough to create turbulent air like a fricative.
These sounds are:
[ɹ]   (as in rambunctious)
[w]  (as in dweeb)
[j]    (as in yodel)

6) Lateral
Lastly, lateral sounds are created when your tongue obstructs air from passing through the centre of your mouth, causing it to go around the sides.
The only sound like this in English is:
[ɫ] or [l] (as in lobular)

 

So that is manner of articulation for consonants in English. In next week’s post I will cover voicing, place/point of articulation for vowels and a few loose odds and ends (such as why ‘h’ isn’t included on this post) as well. That post will conclude the set of Confusing Linguist Terminology: English posts and then we will move onto a new language. See you then! 🙂

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Confusing Linguistic Terminology: English

  When I started learning languages (being British) I had never heard so much as a single mention of IPA or other such linguistic terminology like Place/Manner of Articulation in my language classes. Figuring that there might be a lot of you out there in the same position as I was, I thought I’d do a simple guide to these words and what they mean on our blog.

I’ll start by looking at the linguistic terminology needed for English, however we’ll be making this a little weekly series on here, in which we will eventually cover all the languages we study/have an interest in so that we can make our posts a little more in-depth and interesting. These posts will be a lot more concise in the future, as the basic underlying principles of articulation (such as what a passive/active articulator are and what labial means) will already have been covered here.

 So, what is Place/Point of Articulation?

Well it’s one thing for vowels and one thing for consonants, so let’s focus on point of articulation for consonants on this post. In order to make sound Manner of Articulation and Voicing is also required, however let’s take this in steps.
640px-Places_of_articulation  The Place of Articulation for consonants is in the “vocal tract” (anywhere between your lips, H and your vocal folds, A).
This is where an obstruction occurs to stop air flowing in a particular way, for example when your lips come together when you say “m” or your tongue touches the roof of your mouth when saying “t”.

In place of articulation there are two parts to making a sound. The first is a passive articulator and the second is an active articulator. The passive articulator doesn’t move when the sound is created, the active articulator does.
For example, when you say “m”, your bottom lip is the active articulator and your top lip is the passive articulator.
Another example is, when saying “v”, your bottom lip is the active articulator and your teeth are the passive articulator.

In English there are 8 Places of Articulation.
These are: Bilabial
Labiodental
Dental
Alveolar
Post-Alveolar
Palatal
Velar
Glottal

This all sounds kind of boring and over-complicated but bear with me, it’s a lot less complex than it sounds and actually pretty quick to explain. Also I would suggest that you say these sounds as I describe them, just so you can get a feel for what I mean.

1) Bilabial
So bilabial consonants are made by both of your lips coming together (located at H on the diagram).
These sounds are:
[p] (as in poo)
[b] (as in blob)
[m] (as in Mum)

2) Labiodental
These consonants are created by bringing your bottom lip up to your teeth to block air flow.
There sounds are:
[f] (as in fornication)
[v] (as in velociraptir)

3) Dental
Dental consonants occur when you place the tip of your tongue against your top teeth.
These sounds are (disappointingly boring word choices):
[θ] (as in thick)
[ð] (as in the)

4) Alveolar
These sounds happen when your tongue touches that ridge just behind your top row of teeth, called the alveolar ridge (F on the diagram).
These sounds are:
[n] (as in nibble)
[t] (as in troll)
[d] (as in dongle)
[s] (as in swivel)
[z] (as in zig-zag)
[ɫ] & [l] (as in floccinaucinihilipilification)

5) Post-Alveolar
These consonants are created when your tongue connects with the point just behind the alveolar ridge.
These sounds are:
[ʃ] (as in ship)
[ʒ] (as in precision)
[tʃ] (as in batch)
[dʒ] (as in fudge)

6) Palatal
Palatal Consonants are made when your tongue touches the roof of your mouth (shown at E on the diagram).
The only such sound in English is:
[j] (as in yo-yo)

7) Velar
Velar consonants occur when you raise the back of the tongue to meet the “velum” (or “soft palate” at the back of your throat, shown at D on the diagram).
These sounds are:
[ŋ] (as in fling)
[k] (as in king)
[g] (as in giggle)
[w] (as in wiggle)

8) Glottal
Glottal consonants are created when you close a sort of “lid” at the top of your windpipe, right at the back of your throat (shown at A on the diagram). The best way to understand where this is, is to hold your breath without closing your mouth. The part you’ll be closing is your glottis.
These sounds are:
[h] (as in Bahamas)
[?] (this is a glottal stop used, for example, if you were to drop the “t” in water)

So, this is what Place of Articulation is when talking about consonants in English. In the next post I will  be covering manner of articulation, which should be up by next Sunday 🙂