Describing consonants

What provides one consonant various from another?

Producing a consonant entails making the vocal tract narrow at some place than it commonly is. We contact thisnarrowing a constriction. Which consonant you"re pronouncing counts on wherein in the vocal tract theconstriction is and how narrow it is. It additionally depends ~ above a few other things, such as whether the vocal foldsare vibrating and whether air is flowing with the nose.

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We divide consonants follow me three significant dimensions: location of coupling manner of coupling voicing

The place of articulation measurement specifies inside the vocal street the constriction is. The voicingparameter mentions whether the vocal folds are vibrating.The manner that articulation dimesion is essentiallyeverything else: just how narrow the constriction is, whetherair is flowing through the nose, and also whether the tongue isdropped down on one side.

For example, because that the sound :Place of articulation = alveolar. (The narrowing ofthe vocal tract entails the tongue tip and the alveolar ridge.)Manner of articulation = oral stop. (The narrowing is finish -- the tongue is fully blocking off airflow through the mouth. Over there is likewise no airflow with the nose.)Voicing = voiced. (The vocal folds space vibrating.)


The vocal folds may be held versus each various other at justthe appropriate tension so that the wait flowing previous them fromthe lung will cause them come vibrate against each other.We speak to this process voicing. Sounds which aremade through vocal fold vibration are stated to it is in voiced.Sounds made there is no vocal fold vibration are said to bevoiceless.

There are several pairs of sound in English which differonly in voicing -- that is, the 2 sounds have actually identicalplaces and also manners that articulation, yet one has vocalfold vibration and the various other doesn"t. The <θ> ofthigh and the <ð> that thyare one such pair. The others are:

voiceless voiced

<θ> <ð>
<ʃ> <ʒ>

The other sounds the English do not come in voiced/voiceless pairs. is voicess, and also has no voiced counterpart.The various other English consonants are all voiced:<ɹ>, , , ,, , and also <ŋ>.This walk not median that it is physically difficult tosay a sound the is exactly like, for example, one except without vocal fold vibration. That is merely thatEnglish has actually chosen not to use such sound in its setof distinctive sounds.(It is possible even in English for one of these sounds tobecome coincidentally under the affect of its neighbours,but this will never change the an interpretation of the word.)

Manners the articulation


A stop consonant fully cuts off the airflow throughthe mouth. In the consonant , , and also , thetongue reminder touches the alveolar ridge and also cuts off theairflow at that point. In and also , this means thatthere is no airflow at every for the expression of the stop.In , there is no airflow with the mouth, however thereis still airflow with the nose. We distinguishbetweennasal stops, like , i beg your pardon involve airflowthrough the nose, andoral stops, favor and also , which execute not.Nasal stop are often simply called nasals. Oralstops room often called plosives. Dental stops canbe one of two people voiced or voiceless. Sleep stops room almostalways voiced. (It is physically feasible to develop avoiceless sleep stop, but English, like most languages,does not usage such sounds.)Fricatives

In the protect against , the tongue guideline touches the alveolar ridgeand cuts off the airflow. In , the tongue tipapproaches the alveolar ridge however doesn"t fairly touch it.There is still enough of an opened for airflow tocontinue, however the opening is narrow enough that it causesthe escaping air to end up being turbulent (hence the hissingsound the the ). In a fricative consonant, thearticulators associated in the constriction technique get closeenough to each other to develop a turbluent airstream.The fricatives that English are,,<θ>,<ð>,,,<ʃ>, and<ʒ>.


In one approximant, the articulators involved in the constriction are additional apart stillthan they room for a fricative. The articulators space stillcloser to each various other than when the vocal street is in itsneutral position, however they room not also close enough tocause the waiting passing between them to end up being turbulent.The approximants that English are,,<ɹ>, and.


An affricate is a single sound written of a stop part and a fricative portion. In English, the air flow is first interuppted through a stop which is verysimilar come (though made a bit further back). Butinstead the finishing the articulation quickly and movingdirectly right into the following sound, the tongue pulls away fromthe protect against slowly, so the there is a duration of time immediatelyafter the stop where the constriction is narrow sufficient tocause a unstable airstream. In ,the period of rough airstream following the stopportion is the exact same as the frame <ʃ>.English is an affricate like, yet voiced.


Pay fist to what you are doing v your tongue when yousay the very first consonant of leaf.Your tongue pointer is emotional your alveolar ridge (or perhapsyour top teeth), but this doesn"t make a stop.Air is tho flowing throughout an since the side of yourtongue has actually dropped down and also left one opening. (Some peopledrop under the right side of your tongue during an ;others drop under the left; a couple of drop under both sides.)Sounds i beg your pardon involve airflow approximately the next of the tongueare called laterals. Sound which are not lateralare called central.

is the only lateral in English. The other sounds ofEnglihs, like many of the sound of the world"s languages,are central.

More specifics is a lateral approximant.The opened left at the next of the tongue is vast enoughthat the air flowing with does not come to be turbulent.

Places that articulation

The place of coupling (or POA) that a consonant specifieswhere in the vocal street the narrowing orwandachamber.orgurs. Native frontto back, the POAs the English supplies are:


In a bilabial consonant, the lower and upper lips approachor touch each other. English

, , and arebilabial stops.

The diagram come the right mirrors the state of the vocal tract during a typical

or . (An would look the same, but with the velum lower to allow out through the sleep passages.)

The sound entails two constrictions of the vocal tractmade simultaneously. Among them is lip rounding, i beg your pardon you have the right to think of together abilabial approximant.


In a labiodental consonant, the lower lip ideologies ortouches the upper teeth. English and space bilabialfricatives.

The diagram to the right shows the state the the vocal tract during a usual or . Dental

In a dental consonant, the guideline or blade of the tongue ideologies or touch the upper teeth. English <θ> and <ð> space dental fricatives. There room actually a couple of various ways of creating these sounds: The tongue pointer can technique the back of the upperteeth, however not press against them so hard that theairflow is fully blocked. The blade of the tongue have the right to touch the bottom that theupper teeth, with the tongue tip protruding between theteeth -- still leaving enough room for a unstable airstreamto escape. This kind of <θ> and<ð> is often dubbed interdental.The diagram to the right reflects a common interdental <θ> or <ð>.


In one alveolar consonant, the tongue reminder (or much less oftenthe tongue blade) philosophies or touches the alveolar ridge,the ridge automatically behind the upper teeth. The Englishstops , , and also are created by fully blockingthe air flow at this location of articulation. The fricatives and also are likewise at this ar of articulation, together is thelateral approximant .

The diagram to the right mirrors the state the the vocal tract throughout plosive or . Postalveolar

In a postalveolar consonant, the constriction is madeimmediately behind the alveolar ridge. The constrictioncan it is in made v either the tip or the blade of the tongue.The English fricatives<ʃ> and<ʒ> aremade at this POA, as room the corresponding affricates and.

The diagram come the right mirrors the state the the vocal tract during the an initial half (the stop half) of one affricate or .


In a retroflex consonant, the tongue reminder is curled backward in the mouth. English<ɹ> is a retroflex approximant -- the tongue guideline is curled up toward thepostalveolar an ar (the area automatically behind the alveolar ridge).

The diagram come the right reflects a typical English retroflex <ɹ>.

Both the sound we"ve dubbed "postalveolar" and also the sounds we"ve referred to as "retroflex" show off the an ar behind the alveolar ridge. In fact, at the very least for English, you have the right to think that retroflexes together being a sub-type of postalveolars, special, the form of postalveolars that you make by curling her tongue reminder backward.

(In fact, the retroflexes and other postalveolars sound so similar that you deserve to usually use either one in English without any type of noticeable impact on her arwandachamber.orgent. A an extensive minority north American English speaker don"t use a retroflex <ɹ>, however rather a "bunched" R -- kind of choose a tongue-blade <ʒ> with an even broader opening. Similarly, a couple of people usage a curled-up tongue guideline rather 보다 their tongue blades in do <ʃ> and <ʒ>.)


In a palatal consonant, the body of the tongue approaches ortouches the difficult palate. English is a palatal approximant-- the tongue body approaches the difficult palate, but closelyenough to produce turbulence in the airstream.


In a velar consonant, the body of the tongue philosophies ortouches the soft palate, or velum. English ,<ɡ>, and also <ŋ> space stopsmade at this POA. The sound made at the finish of theGerman surname Bach or the Scottish indigenous lochis the voiceless fricative made in ~ the velar POA.

The diagram to the right mirrors a typical or <ɡ> -- though where specifically on the velum the tongue human body hits will vary a lot depending upon the neighboring vowels.

As we have seen, one of the 2 constrictions that forma is a bilabial approximant. The other is a velarapproximant: the tongue body ideologies the soft palate,but does not get even as close together it does in an .

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The glottis is the opening between the vocal folds.In one , this opening is narrow enough to create someturbulence in the airstream flowing previous the vocal folds.For this reason, is frequently classified together a glottalfricative.

Summary the English consonants

coincidentally bilabial plosive
voiced bilabial plosive
voiceless alveolar plosive
voiced alveolar plosive
coincidentally membranous plosive
<ɡ> voiced membranous plosive
voiceless postalveolar affricate
voiced postalveolar affricate
voiced bilabial nasal
voiced alveolar nasal
<ŋ> voiced membranous nasal
coincidentally labiodental fricative
voiced labiodental fricative
<θ> by chance dentist fricative
<ð> voiced dental frame
voiceless alveolar frame
voiced alveolar fricative
<ʃ> by chance postalveolar frame
<ʒ> voiced postalveolar fricative
<ɹ> voiced retroflex approximately
voiced palatal approximately
voiced labial + velar approximately
voiced alveolar lateral approximately
coincidentally glottal fricative

Consonant chartsIt is often valuable to display screen the consonants of a languagein the kind of a chart. Over there is a conventional way of doingso: Columns show places that articulation, i ordered it (roughly)from the prior of the vocal tract to the back. Rows display manners of articulation. Within each cell, the symbol because that a by chance sound isshown towards the left the the cell and also the symbol for a voicedsound towards the right.The adhering to is the chart for English consonants:
bilabial labiodental dentist alveolar postalveolar retroflex palatal membranous glottal
plosivepbtdk ɡ
nasalmn ŋ
fricativefv θ ð sz ʃ ʒ h