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Consonants and vowels

John Goldsmith

Kinds of phonetics
Transcribing: descriptive phonetics? transcriptional phonetics? No standard name. Articulatory phonetics Acoustic phonetics Perceptual phonetics (Psychology) Computational phonetics (CS)

Articulatory apparatus

Some (not so happy) assumptions generally made to do transcriptions


There is a (1-dimensional) sequence of units that define or characterize the utterance rather than 2 or more parallel streams. We think of the articulators as being a single instrument rather than as an orchestra. We can slice the utterances into pieces vertically, in time, and ignore most differences in duration. Sounds follow one another, and thats it: there is no packing of them into groups.

Sounds of English
Consonants: first, the stops: b as in bat, sob, cubby d as in date, hid, ado g as in gas, lag, ragged p as in pet, tap, repeat t as in tap, pet, attack k as in king, pick, picking
When we need to emphasize that we are using a phonetic transcription, we put square brackets [b] around the symbols.

More consonants: fricatives


f as in fail, life v as in veil, live as in thin, wrath as in this, bathe s as in soft, miss z as in zoo, as (American) or (IPA) as in shame, mash (American) or (IPA)as in triage, garage, azure, h as in help, vehicular

affricates
(American) or t (IPA) as in cheap, hatch (American) or (IPA) as in jump, hedge

nasal consonants
m as in map, him n as in knot, tin (alveolar POA) as in canyon

as in sing, gingham, dinghy

Liquids
l as in large, gull r as in red, jar

glides and semi-consonants


y (American) or j (IPA) as in boy, yellow w as in wall, cow

6 stops 2 affricates 9 fricatives 4 nasals 2 liquids 2 glides

Short vowels
Front:
I

schwa as in about

as in bat Back as in put as in putt as in bought a or as in Mott, ma, spot

as in bit as in bet

Long vowels
iy or i as in beet ey or ej as in bait ay as in bite oy as in boy uw or u as in boot ow as in boat aw as how

Review where weve been


Weve listened to the sounds of our English, and assigned a set of symbols to them. We abstracted away from pitch, loudness, and duration. We hope to better understanding our languages sounds by analyzing them as being composed of a sequence of identifiable sounds, each of which occurs frequently in words of the language.

Frequently? If a sound occurs in just 2 or 3 words, we dont take it seriously (glottal stop, velar fricative) We do this against the background knowledge that the inventory of sounds in English is not necessary as human languages go: they are what they are against a much wider backdrop of possible linguistic sounds.

We also attempt to physically characterize these sounds: acoustically and articulatorily. Consonants are easier to characterize articulatorily, vowels acoustically. We are particularly interested in those ways in which the English of Speaker 1 is different from the English of Speaker 2: again, working against the background knowledge of variation.

We also characterize differences of sounds across sound contexts: we say, notice the different sound that occurs in front of a voiceless consonant in height. Looking ahead to phonology, we will attempt to get a handle on variation in sounds in two ways:
Two sounds are similar if (roughly) we can characterize one of them as a variant of the other used in a particular context (under the influence of that context, so to speak) Two sounds are distinct (hence, different) if two distinct words differ only with regard to these two sounds, in otherwise identical positions

We try to characterize the inventory of sounds in a language, knowing that that language chose one set of sounds when a vast range of other possibilities might have been chosen.

Symbols
We assign symbols to these sounds; in addition, we want to characterize them as best we can articulatorily and acoustically. Sounds can be divided into two major groups, consonants and vowels; or set along a continuum known as the sonority hierarchy:

Sonority hierarchy
Vowels Glides Liquids Nasals Obstruents:
Fricatives Affricates Stops

Consonants
Consonants = obstruents + sonorants
Obstruents: (oral) stops, affricates, and fricatives Sonorants: nasals and liquids (l,r)

Consonants have a point of articulation


The crucial points of articulation for English consonants are: Labial Labio-dental Dental Alveolar: at the alveolar ridge, behind the teeth Post-alveolar/palato-alveolar/alveopalatal: multiple names for the same thing Retroflex (r only) Palatal (y, ) Velar Laryngeal

Obstruents: 6 stops 9 fricatives 2 affricates Nasals (4) 2 other sonorants (what are they?) 2 glides

Vowels
Vowels are harder to characterize articulatorily, but we try! The fact that its harder is reflected in the fact that there is more than one way in which its done. IPA is one way; American is another.

IPA

Two systems side by side

A phonetic chart based on the first two formants

From: http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/music/vocres.html

/i/ green

/ae/ hat

/u/ boot
graphics thanks to Kevin Russell, Univ of Manitoba

Hi /haj/

we were away a year ago

FORMANTS