Category Archives: English Speech Sounds 101

CONTENTS (English Speech Sounds 101)

ess101 contents

Contents Introduction What is a Speech Sound? Studying Speech Making Speech Sounds Age of Acquisition of Speech Sounds Transcribing Speech Sounds International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) VOWELS Vowel Variation Parameters for Describing Vowels Charting Vowels Simple Vowels Front Vowels Central Vowels Back Vowels Summary of Simple Vowels Complex Vowels Summary of Complex Vowels Comparing Accents CONSONANTS […]

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Consonants Summary

consonants summary ESS101

From our discussion of the naming convention for consonants, we see that any consonant can be summarized in terms of a tripartite description that indicates its voicing, place of articulation and manner of articulation. For example, /p/ would be described as a voiceless bilabial plosive, /z/ as a voiced alveolar fricative, and /ŋ/ as a […]

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Naming Convention for Consonants

naming convention for consonants ESS101

During your reading of the various descriptions of English consonants you may have noted a pattern in the way each consonant sound is described. By convention each consonant is described in relation to three parameters, in the following order: voicing place of articulation manner of articulation To consolidate our understanding of these important features, we […]

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approximants ESS101

Our description of consonant sounds has highlighted the different ways in which the free passage of air through the vocal apparatus may be impeded. So far we have discussed just two types of closure. The first is complete closure and the second is near closure. Plosives and nasals are both formed through a complete closure. […]

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affricates ESS101

All of the consonant sounds described so far are produced with either a complete obstruction of the airflow (plosives and nasals) or a narrowing of the mouth passage (fricatives). One pair of consonants, however, is produced by a combination of these two methods. This is the affricates. The sounds begin with a complete obstruction formed […]

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fricatives ESS101

Fricative consonants are formed by a narrowing of the mouth passage by two articulators, such as the lips, teeth, tongue or palate, coming into near contact. The air forcing its way through the narrow gap creates turbulence or friction, hence the name fricative. In general, fricatives emerge later than the plosive sounds. The earliest sound […]

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nasals ESS101

As noted, when a person makes any plosive sound, the soft palate is raised so that it touches the back of the throat above the pharynx. This prevents air escaping through the nose. All air is, therefore, directed out through the mouth. We have noted that all consonants produced in this way are referred to […]

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plosives ESS101

Plosive consonants are oral sounds, i.e. the soft palate is raised so that air from the lungs cannot pass upwards into the nasal cavity. The air can, therefore, only escape through the oral cavity. All plosives are produced by a complete obstruction of the airflow at some position in the mouth, for example by the […]

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consonants ESS101

Recall that vowels are described as open sounds because there is no obstruction to the flow of air as it passes out of the mouth. In contrast, consonants are described as closed sounds. This means that there is some type of obstruction to the airflow from the lungs as it passes through the vocal tract […]

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Comparing Accents

comparing accents ESS101

From the foregone discussion of vowels, we see that there are several differences between the realization of vowels in General American (GA) and Standard Southern British English (SSBE). We will highlight a few of these below. First, the vowel differences between the two varieties of English under discussion can lead to the creation of homophones, […]

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