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Aspiration

Aspiration of plosives We have already highlighted how certain phonemes may be produced with an accompanying short puff of air in certain contexts. In particular, we considered the production of the voiceless alveolar plosive /t/ in the words top and stop (see What is an Allophone?) In…

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Nasalization

Vowel nasalization Say the word art /ɑt/ aloud. Now contrast this by saying the word mart /mɑt/. Do you notice any difference in the quality of the /ɑ/ vowel? If you are uncertain, say the words aloud in quick succession: art – mart – art – mart… If…

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Shortening

Vowel shortening We have seen elsewhere (see Table 1 Simple Vowels Summary) that English monophthongs can be categorized according to duration. We noted that there are seven short vowels and five long vowels. To the group of long vowels we can also add all the diphthongs, as…

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Schwa Lowering

What is schwa lowering? We have seen elsewhere (Central Vowels) that one of the two central vowels of English frequently appears in unstressed syllables. This is the schwa vowel /ə/. We have also noted that this phoneme occupies a mid position, being articulated with the mouth open halfway…

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What is an Allophone?

Definition of allophone Just what is an allophone? Elsewhere we have defined a phoneme as a contrastive sound in the speech sound system of a particular world language (see ‘Phones and Phonemes’ in International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). In essence, phonemes are speech sounds…

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ALLOPHONES 101

Overview These themed introductory level articles entitled ALLOPHONES 101 are part of the Human Communication 101 series. The articles that constitute ALLOPHONES 101 clearly focus on allophones. These are variations in the way speech sounds (phonemes) are articulated in particular contexts, i.e. in particular positions in words, either when spoken on their own or as…

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Consonants Summary

Consonants summary chart 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…

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