English Phonetics – A science of pronounciation

English Phonetics – A Science of pronounciation

Phonetics is the analyze of the seems of language.  These seems are identified as phonemes. There are virtually hundreds of them used in different languages.  Even a single language like English needs us to distinguish about 40!  The key word right here is distinguish.  We really make much finer discriminations amongst seems, but English only needs 40.  The other discriminations are what allows us detect the variations in accents and dialects, identify people, and differentiate very small nuances of speech that suggest matters outside of the evident meanings of the phrases.

The Vocal Tract

In purchase to analyze the seems of language, we first have to have to analyze the vocal tract.  Speech begins with the lungs, which thrust air out and pull it in.  The original goal was, of class, to get oxygen and get rid of carbon dioxide.  But it is also critical for speech.  There are phonemes that are little far more than breathing:  the h for instance.

Following, we have the larynx, or voice box.  It sits at the juncture of the trachea or windpipe coming up from the lungs and the esophagous coming up from the abdomen.  In the larynx, we have an opening identified as the glottis, an epiglottis which addresses the glottis when we are swallowing, and the vocal cords.  The vocal cords consist of two flaps of mucous membrane stretched across the glottis, as in this photograph:

The vocal cords can be tightened and loosened and can vibrate when air is pressured previous them, generating audio.  Some phonemes use that audio, and are identified as voiced.  Examples consist of the vowels (a, e, i, o, and u, for instance) and some of the consonants (m, l, and r, for instance).  Other phonemes do not include the vocal cords, such as the consonants h, t, or s, and so are identified as unvoiced.

The place higher than the glottis is identified as the pharynx, or higher throat.  It can be tightened to make phryngeal consonants.  English isn’t going to have any of these, but they audio like when you try to get a piece of meals back up out of your throat.

At the top rated of the throat is the opening to the nasal passages (identified as the nasopharynx, in situation you are intrigued).  When we allow air to go into the nose though speaking, the seems we make are identified as nasal.  Examples consist of m, n, and the ng audio of sing.

Significantly of the motion in the course of speech happens in the mouth, of class, in particular involving the interaction of the tongue with the roof of the mouth.  The roof of the mouth has numerous specific areas:  At the really back, just right before the nasal passage, is that little bag identified as the uvula.  Its important function seems to be moisturizing the air and building selected seems identified as, definitely, uvular.  The best recognised is the type of r pronounced in the back of the mouth by some French and German speakers.  Uvular, pharyngeal, and glottal seems are frequently refered to as gutterals.

Following, we have the comfortable palate, identified as the velum.  If you switch your tongue back as far as it will go and push up, you can come to feel how comfortable it is.  When you say k or g, you are using the velum, so they are identified as velar consonants.

More forward is the really hard palate.  Fairly a couple of consonants are built using the really hard palate, such as s, sh, n, and l, and are identified as palatals.  Just behind the tooth is the dental ridge or alveolus.  Here is where a lot of of us make our t’s and d’s — alveolar consonants.

At the really outer edge of the mouth we have the tooth and the lips.  Dental consonants are built by touching the tongue to the tooth.  In English, we make the two th seems like this.  Take note that a person of these is voiced (the th in the) and a person is unvoiced (the th in slender).

At the lips we can make numerous seems as effectively.  The easiest, perhaps, are the bilabial seems, built by keeping the lips alongside one another and then releasing the audio, such as p and b, or by holding them alongside one another and releasing the air via the nose, building the bilabial nasal m.  We can also use the higher tooth with the reduced lip, for labiodental seems.  This is how we make an f, for instance.

By the way, we also have two names for the areas of the tongue used with these many areas of the mouth:  The front edge is identified as the corona, and the back is identified as the dorsum.  Sounds like t, th, and s are built with the corona, though k, g, and ng are built with the dorsum.


Consonants are seems which include complete or partial blocking of airflow.  In English, the consonants are p, b, t, d, ch, j, k, g, f, v, th, dh, s, z, sh, zh, m, n, ng, l, r, w, and y.  They are labeled in a range of different approaches, relying on the vocal tract facts we just mentioned.

1.  Stops, also recognised as plosives.  The air is blocked for a moment, then launched.  In English, they are p, b, t, d, k, and g.

a.  Bilabial plosives: p (unvoiced) and b (voiced)
b.  Alveolar plosives:  t (unvoiced) and d (voiced)
c.  Velar plosives:  k (unvoiced) and g (voiced)

In other languages, we come across labiodental, palatal, uvular, pharyngeal, and glottal plosives as effectively, and retroflex plosives, which include reaching back to the palate with the corona of the tongue.

In a lot of languages, plosives may possibly be adopted by aspiration, that is, by a breathy audio like an h.  In Chinese, for instance, there is a distinction among a p pronounced crisply and an aspirated p.  We use equally in English (pit vs poo), but it isn’t really a distinction that separates a person meaning from a further.

2.  Fricatives include a a little bit resisted stream of air.  In English, these consist of f, v, th, dh, s, z, sh, zh, and h.

a.  Labiodental fricatives:  f (unvoiced) and v (voiced)
b.  Dental fricatives:  th (as in slender — unvoiced) and dh (as in the — voiced)
c.  Alveolar fricatives:  s (unvoiced) and z (voiced)
d.  Palatal fricatives:  sh (unvoiced) and zh (like the s in eyesight — voiced)
e.  Glottal fricative:  h (unvoiced)

3.  Affricates are seems that include a plosive adopted straight away by a fricative at the exact spot.  In English, we have ch (unvoiced) and j (voiced).  Several consider these as blends:  t-sh and d-zh.

4.  Nasals are seems built with air passing via the nose.  In English, these are m, n, and ng.

a.  Bilabial nasal:  m
b.  Alveolar nasal:  n
c.  Velar nasal:  ng

5.  Liquids are seems with really little air resistance.  In English, we have l and r, which are equally alveolar, but vary in the shape of the tongue.  For l, we touch the suggestion to the ridge of the tooth and let the air go close to equally sides.  For the r, we almost block the air on equally sides and let it via at the top rated.  Take note that there are a lot of variations of l and r in other languages and even in just English alone!

6.  Semivowels are seems that are, as the identify implies, really almost vowels.  In English, we have w and y, which you can see are a good deal like vowels such as oo and ee, but with the lips almost closed for w (a bilabial) and the tongue almost touching the palate for y (a palatal).  They are also identified as glides, because they usually “glide” into or out of vowel positions (as in woo, yeah, ow, and oy).

In a lot of languages, such as Russian, there is a complete set of palatalized consonants, which indicates they are adopted by a y right before the vowel.  This is also identified as an on-glide.


There are about 14 vowels in English.  They are the kinds identified in these phrases:  beet, bit, bait, wager, bat, vehicle, pot (in British English), acquired, boat, reserve, boot, bird, but, and the a in back.  There are also a few diphthongs or double vowels:  bite, cow, and boy.  Diphthongs include off-glides.: You can listen to the y in bite and boy, and the w in cow.  Essentially, the seems in bait and boat are also diphthongs (with y and w off-glides, respectively), but the first areas of the diphthongs are different from the nearby seems in wager and acquired.

Vowels are labeled in a few dimensions:

1.  The top of the tongue in the mouth — low, mid, or significant

significant are beet, bit, boot, and reserve
mid are bait, wager, but, boat, acquired, bird and a in back
low are bat, vehicle, and british pot

2.  How far forward or backward in the mouth the tongue rises — front, center, or back

front are beet, bit, bait, wager, and bat
center are but, bird, and a in back
back are boot, reserve, boat, acquired, and british pot

3.  How rounded or unrounded the lips are

the front vowels are unrounded
the center and back vowels are rounded

The rounding idea may possibly seem to be unnecessary until eventually you recognize that a lot of languages have rounded front vowels — such as the German ü and ö and the French u and eu — and a lot of have unrounded back vowels — such as the Japanese u.  If you took French in significant university, you may possibly don’t forget the teacher telling you to say tea with your lips rounded for French tu.  It isn’t really the best way to train the audio, but it exhibits you where it fits in the plan.

There is a person far more dimension that isn’t going to have much to do with English, but is critical in a lot of languages, and that is vowel size.  Vowels can be short or prolonged, and it is just a subject of how prolonged you continue the audio.  The closest we get in English is that the vowel in beet is for a longer period (as effectively as increased) than the vowel in bit.  The exact goes for boot and reserve, and for caught and the British pot.

In some languages, such as French, there is a further excellent to vowels, and that is nasality.  Some vowels are pronounced with airflow via the nose as effectively as the mouth.  Originally, these were merely vowels adopted by nasal consonants.  But in excess of time, the French blended the vowels and the nasals into a person unit.

Source by M.V.Satyanarayana

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